Finally watched Ethan Marcotte’s talk from this year’s New Adventures conference. It’s as good as everyone said.
The sewing machine was introduced to the public in the middle of the 19th century. When it was made commercially available, it was advertised as an appliance that would free women from the routine drudgery of hand-sewing.
A few short decades later, this pamphlet said that a female operator could use a Singer sewing machine to produce 3,300 stitches per minute.
That shift in tone is really intriguing to me: as the technology improved, the messaging around sewing machines shifted from personal liberty to technical efficiency.
People are promised that technology will free them; ultimately, as the technology matures, it captures them.
I’d like to propose that what happened with the sewing machine is currently happening with the Web: that the Web is becoming industrialized in the same way that the sewing machine was.