Billow’s Feeding Machine (Figure 5.1, page 60)

In my book on Experience Design (page 60), I wrote about Billow’s Feeding Machine featured in Chaplin’s Modern Times. Have a look …

The intellectual roots of HCI are work science, work psychology, and ergonomics. All those
disciplines were basically triggered by a more or less economically-driven demand for an improved
workplace (Karwowski,W., 2006). One strategy was to select and train people to increase work performance, the other to adapt workplace design, machines and so forth to the skills and capabilities of workers. In this context, efficiency and effectiveness was clearly an institutional and not a personal goal. Better performance equaled more money. The human was viewed as a necessary, but yet improvable part of the system.  Do you remember Billow’s Feeding Machine in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times? The feeding machine is “a practical device which automatically feeds your men while at work. Don’t stop for lunch: be ahead of your competitor. The Feeding Machine will eliminate the lunch hour, increase your production,and decrease your overhead. Allowus to point out some of the features of this wonderful machine: its beautiful, aerodynamic, streamlined body; its smoothness of action, made silent by our electro-porous metal ball bearings. Let us acquaint you with our automaton soup plate—its compressed-air blower, no breath necessary, no energy required to cool the soup.” Back in 1936, the economic world seemed so obsessed with efficiency and effectiveness that Chaplin could mock it easily.

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