Visions and Views Editor : Nevenka Dimitrova Philips Research

Abstract

Once upon a time, there was a small republic nestled in the heart of an inaccessible chain of mountains. The country was separated geographically into two regions by a range of towering peaks that ran from north to south. Originally, the citizens were mountain dwellers, but they had long since moved downhill, either to the eastern or western side of the country. Over time, two dialects of the national language had developed that, together with the terrain, provided nearly total regional autonomy. The principal activity of the citizens in each region was producing and consuming bread: whole wheat, long grain, short grain —even rice bread. Hundreds of types of bread were sold in shops, and each town had its own specialty. Although many people were employed in the support tasks of growing wheat, making flour, and transporting raw and finished materials, it was the bakers who were at the top of the social ladder. The citizens were well fed and happy. Life in the republic changed dramatically when experiments in the East with new, more powerful forms of yeast led to the development of the hot-air balloon. It was not long before the balloons were sent to study the western region. Adventurers returned with wondrous tales of life across the mountains. Although presentations on wildlife and natural history always drew polite applause, what the citizens in the East were really hungry for was information on the types of bread available across the national divide. When one insightful adventurer attempted to purchase a cookbook for western bread, a startling discovery was made: the entire population of the West was illiterate! Everything of interest and importance— such as recipes—was recorded in drawings and photographs, on 9-track cassette tape, or film. Where the East had extensive (and mandatory) vocabularies for describing every aspect of bread and bread production, the West had extensive film archives and audio descriptions, all of which were recorded in a proprietary format. All western bread was simply labeled: bread (where and when it was bought differentiated what kind it was). The limited transport capacity of the balloons and the extended duration of the interregional journey made it impossible to import fresh western bread, but this did little to satisfy the appetites of the eastern population. The brightest young bakers were sent out to document every crumb of information available about the size, shape, color, texture, weight, and nutritional benefits of the neighboring breads so that every variety could be located on demand. Instead of learning how to bake bread, they were taught how to describe it. But alas, the ingredients and production methods used in the West were dissimilar enough to keep their bread indescribably delicious. Relations between regions became strained when the West’s bakers and suppliers refused to adopt the East’s naming schemes. Worst of all, given the comfort of their new air-conditioned offices—and the fact that they no longer needed to get up before dawn— those bright young eastern bakers had little interest in returning to the ovens once they got home. The baker’s trade lost its popularity and status. Consolidation took place, and the variety of bread types in the East decreased dramatically. All of this led to local unrest and disenchantment: the easterners felt they were missing out on an optimal experience because they were sure that, somewhere in the West, a better bread was being buttered. Wordsmiths were brought in to restore public confidence in eastern products and soon “E-Bread: The Crust You Can Trust!” billboards sprang up everywhere. To lure even more consumers back, generic bread

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Bulterman2009VisionsAV, title={Visions and Views Editor : Nevenka Dimitrova Philips Research}, author={Dick C . A . Bulterman}, year={2009} }