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Dec 15, 2012

Who Invented the Elevator?






(Samuel RysdykUsually concealed within the middle of buildings, and hidden behind sliding doors, the elevator is inconspicuous, so simple and comfortable that it can safely be ignored. 

Yet, this mode of vertical transportation is necessary to our modern skyline. The elevator is an invention that was 2000 years in the making. In 236 BC Archimedes used ropes and pulleys to create what we would consider an elevator. Yet, passenger elevators were not broadly installed until the second half of the 19th century. No particular individual invented the elevator. The modern elevator came to exist through a combination of evolutionary innovations. Mere mechanical parts were not enough to create the elevator; social “innovation” was needed as well.


The Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) proposes that social context is important to defining the role of technology. Relevant social groups take technological artifacts and give them meaning.... Technology just doesn’t “arrive”, it is created, manipulated, and enhanced by people to fill a certain desire. Vertical transportation had been around for many years, but it wasn’t good enough until it could be legitimately called safe.
   

 Read the whole thing.

The technology for ebooks has been around, arguably, as long as home computers...certainly as long as the internet. Granted, this isn't 2000 years, but still, for ebooks, as for elevators, there's no single inventor. Before ebooks could transform commerce in literacy, the social system for reading and exchanging them had to exist.

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