Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Progress always progress. Even when it's backwards

I’m really keen on the device on a new window in our place. It’s a sort of elongated round-bar at the top of the window. At first, I had no idea what it was for, except that it looked a little like a vent.

Curious device
It turns out that’s exactly what it is.

Why is this interesting?

Well, the history of window technology – there must be a PhD thesis or two out there on the subject – has, I humbly submit, been one of increasing impenetrability. The aim is to keep the weather out. Above all else, that means eliminating draughts.

But it seems that progress has gone too far. Or had unintended consequences. Proving that you really have to be careful what you wish for.

Because windows are so good these days, so airtight, that houses are simply not getting enough air. But the problem engineering created engineering can solve. So we now have a smart little vent to let air back in.

An artificial draught creator, in fact.

Having gone to great lengths to eliminate them, we have gone a little further to reintroduce them.

This all reminds me of A song of reproduction, made famous by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann. It’s about the evolution of music reproduction, and starts:

I had a little gramophone, 
I'd wind it round and round. 
And with a sharpish needle, 
It made a cheerful sound.

And then they amplified it,
It was much louder then.
And used sharpened fibre needles, 
To make it soft again.

We make it loud, we make it soft again. We make it airtight, we make it draughty again. I love technology. 

Oh, and progress too, of course.

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