Mechanical standardisation

Nearly everything around us today is produced mechanically by duplication, from what we eat to where we live. Handmade, home-made, handpicked, etc, are words of strong, deep resonance that attempt to resist the inextricable effects of the mechanization of our lifestyle. It’s worth remembering though that the first industry to become mechanized was publishing. To duplicate mechanically is to standardise production, to gradually remove human input, the uniqueness of personal involvement. Books were the first to take the hit. There was no coming back. One industry after another suffered the effects of standardisation. Humans used to make copies of items before the age of mechanisation, but those copies were more similar in the sense human siblings, rather than photocopies, are. The deepest effects of standardisation are deeply cultural and affect our worldview fundamentally. We tend to value things more when we know they’ve been the result of direct human effort than if a machine made them.

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