How Unglamorous Technology Can Change History

from the and-keep-us-cool dept

I’ll admit that I’ve become soft when it comes to climate changes these days. Living in California will do that to you. I’ve discovered that, despite growing up in places with plenty of humidity in the summer and snow in the winter, I have little interest in dealing with either, if I can help it. So, last week, I was thrilled to have air conditioning when it actually hit the 90s around here. I never thought much, though, about the historical implications of the air conditioner. While the article mostly focuses on the 100th anniversary of the air conditioner, it does also raise some interesting questions about how we ignore technology’s role in influencing history. The article also talks about how people often become fascinated with a particular technology just for the sake of that technology when it first comes out – such as people sitting around and staring at some of the first lightbulbs they saw, or watching TV test patterns. Hopefully we’re past the gazing phase of the internet… Update: MSNBC is also running an article on the 100th anniversary of the air conditioner. The “official” anniversary appears to be on Wednesday, when everyone should sit at home and crank up their air conditioners in celebration.

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Comments on “How Unglamorous Technology Can Change History”

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Lee says:

The Day The Universe Changed

Edmund Burke wrote and excellent book, later a TV series, “The Day The Universe Changed”. He looks at a lot seemingly insignificant developments that paved the way for more famous things that changed the world, catch it if you can.

As to A/C. During my Navy days back in the 1970’s I served for a time in Bandar Abbas, Iran. which is on the Persian Gulf. Summer temperatures would reach 125 and higher, the sea water was in the mid ’90s. Summer business hours were from about 5:00 – 8:00 AM then it seems everyone took an all day siesta, shops opened again in the evening.

Carrier Airconditioning had a big presence in the city, they cooled the swimming pool so we wouldn’t cook. Yes, this place would be a tough place to live without A/C.

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