Posts Tagged ‘Story of Stuff’

Like selling refrigerators to Eskimos

July 13, 2011

If the supreme art of salesmanship would be to sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, the supreme art of advertising is in persuading people who have unlimited access to tap water to buy bottled water.

Now it is true that not all water is alike.  When I was a boy, I could tell the difference between “country water,” drawn from the well on my grandfather’s farm, and “city water,” the chlorinated water we drew from the tap at home.  I can tell—or think I can tell—the difference between the sweet filtered Hemlock Lake water that comes out of my tap in Rochester, and the water I drink when I’m traveling.

Bruce Sterling, in his science-fiction novel Holy Fire, imagined that, just as today there are wine snobs who detect minute differences in wines and their vintages, so in the future there will be water snobs.

Daizaburo said, “…We’re taking waters.  Would you like a water?”

“Antarctic glacier water,” offered the [robot] crab.  “A deep core from Pleistocene deposits.  Entirely unpolluted, undisturbed since the dawn of humanity.  Profoundly pure. …

“We have lunar water,” said the crab.  “Very interesting isotopic properties.”