Window Washers and antique systems
I was waiting for the bus this morning, watching a window washer working on windows (and actively, if ineptly, alliterating) when it struck me how antique and primitive this system was.
Here's an office building -- no doubt full of computers, fax machines, and cell phones, able to connect in a few moments to nearly any spot on the planet -- and its inhabitants depend on a guy dangling from two ropes fifteen stories above the ground, carrying a squeegee, with a bucket of soapy water tied to his waist, to see out the windows.
I'm going to have to spend some time looking for other examples of this sort of thing -- and defining what "this sort of thing" is. Perhaps there's a photo project hidden in here.
rfkj, on Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 1:00 PM:
Related to window-washing is building-washing. My brother-in-law used to work at his father's building-cleaning company. They do the same sort of thing, hanging off the side of a building to refurbish the concrete and such, but they've got a lot more equipment.
You should find a window-washer to talk to; I imagine they've got some pretty good horror stories about being pushed all over the place when the wind blows. I know my brother-in-law has some doozies.
rfkj, on Thursday, April 3, 2003 at 1:11 PM:
Okay, here's the hidden project: antique systems vs. modern systems. The window washer you saw versus the machines that they use to wash the windows on, say, the Sears Tower. I think the key to making it something other than hackneyed would have to be ensuring that the "primitive" systems are still viable and used: you NEED your windows washed, and soap and water are pretty much to only way to do it. A shot of an old telephone operator console from the 1940's next to a modern PBX wouldn't cut it, for example. Nor would auto-plant assembly-line robots and auto-plant assembly-line humans. A compass vs. a GPS unit, maybe? A spirit level vs. a laser level?
David Adam Edelstein, on Saturday, April 5, 2003 at 9:04 AM:
Interesting idea. I think I'd rather (as if I'm planning to run out and do this) focus on the antique systems in and of themselves, instead of comparing them to modern systems -- too much temptation to apply a John Henry-esque structure to the project, I think.