O, Kiosk, How Doth I Differentiate Thou?

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."