O, Kiosk, How Doth I Differentiate Thou?

Written by Fred J. Aun
November 20th, 2008

We make calls on PCs and surf the Web on our phones. The lines of separation are blurring fast. But in the world of retail technology, the difference between a kiosk and digital signage is one of the more difficult distinctions to make.

Responding to a contest that asked people to do just that, Robert DeVargas, project coordinator and chief financial officer at digital multimedia company Eternal Interactive, pondered the issue. The difference between kiosks and digital signage, he concluded, is "that one is for many eyes to see and one is for an individual to use. Other than that, you can’t really make any differentiation because they are all the same."

DeVargas figured poetry was as good a method as any to make his point for the KioskCom Self Service Expo and The Digital Signage Show contest. His goal was to avoid a dense and jargon-riddled description.

The result was decidedly less Shakespeare, Byron, Keats or Poe and much more Dr. Seuss and Burma-Shave. Even so, his poem is worth reading, if for no other reason than to make yourself feel better about your poem-crafting skill. (A free gift of decidedly little value to the first five readers who can correctly identify the Burma-Shave reference. Extra credit if you can cite an example.)

Is it signage or a kiosk? The answer’s tricky to tell;

For everything a kiosk is, the signage is as well.

There is one trait to ponder, that may put this to rest;

It’s not how each one functions, but how they’re used the best.

For it’s signage at a distance, for many eyes to see;

But when a user’s on it, a kiosk it must be.

"I thought, `What the heck. I’ll have a little fun with it,’" DeVargas said. "The idea was to grasp the essence of this hairsplitting exercise, but do it in way that was somewhat fun. I found out there really wasn’t a difference between the two except in how they are used."


5 Comments | Read O, Kiosk, How Doth I Differentiate Thou?

  1. Adam Blair Says:

    Way back in the 20th century, Burma-Shave signs were placed at strategic intervals alongside roads to make up a readable poem for travelers, each one ending with the product’s name, such as:
    The Bearded Lady
    Read our jingle
    Now she is
    No longer single

  2. Mike Baum Says:

    Adam is of course correct, as those of us who grew up before Interstate highways remember. The Burma-Shave signs were a very effective national “billboard” campaign, though the signs were relatively small. Highways were narrower with less shoulder, so you could read the series as they passed, usually aloud, building to the payoff of the brand tag: “Burma Shave.” The one I remember was a “public service” announcement
    Angels that guard you
    when you drive
    usually retire
    at 65.
    Burma Shave.

  3. TCMakinen Says:

    Grammar quibble: the title should end in “Thee” instead of “Thou” because the word is the object of the sentence, not the subject. The usage is the same as “How do I love thee?”

  4. S Barton Says:

    What about aisle television screens that have an interactive component?
    Makes things even less clear cut, don’t you think?

  5. Evan Schuman Says:

    Editor’s Note: Replying to MCMakinen about the Thee Vs. Thou issue. Checked with our Copy Editor and she replied thusly: “After reading my American Heritage Dictionary, I think it’s okay as is. ‘Thou’ is ‘used to indicate the one being addressed” — in this case, the kiosk. However, ‘thee’ is ‘the objective case of thou’ and “used as the direct object of a verb.” In short, we stand by our phrasing.


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