This makes the process of \”throwing off\” (finishing) the frame easier, as we always know where the next letter will go. Previously, letters were walk-sorted but not walk-sequenced. The letters would arrive in no particular order and the postal worker had to remember where on the frame the letters should go. The skill was in knowing your frame. It would usually take a week or two before you had properly learned your frame and were up to speed.

What the new machines have done is to take away the last element of skill from our job. There\’s no memory involved any more.

That pretty much is the definition of progress. We routinise tasks, take the skilled labour out of them, mechanise them as much as possible.

This makes that skilled labour available to go off and try and solve one of the other infinite human desires and wants.

Good, innit?

7 thoughts on “Progress!”

  1. Our postman exercises additional skill (ie uses his common sense to do his job better). He knows who takes in for whom, those parcels to large to fit the letterbox or that need a signature on delivery. And this is in addition to specific instructions for specific deliveries.

    It’s normal; it helps both him and his customers.

    Doubtless, because he does have common sense, he also appreciates the business efficiencies offered by mechanisation contribute to new work for himself. These include delivering large quantities of advertising and magazines, and delivering Internet orders that would previously have been collected from the shop at the time of purchase.

    Best regards

  2. Brian, follower of Deornoth

    Quite. Remember how the invention of FORTRAN and COBOL was going to put all those programmers out of work?

  3. Without checking I guess that the writer of those words was a union type rather than a proper frontline postie. In my experience the reaction to change exhibited by the two types is frequently quite different.

  4. Brian.. I’m so old that I can remember when the invention of assembler was going to “put skilled machine-code programmers out of a job”! 🙂

  5. Brian,

    Quite. Remember how the invention of FORTRAN and COBOL was going to put all those programmers out of work?

    It didn’t. It just deskilled the job, and reduced the number of hardcore programmers required and changed the requirement to more of an analyst/programmer role.

    The result was that the cost of the skills went down and more companies hired more programmers.

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