Media, Information and Technoculture 2500A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Conveyor Belt, Costco, Ikea

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MIT 2500B: Meaning of Technology
Week 6: Logistics
Feb 8
Maersk Video
“Containerization changed the world”
oEverything put into a box, shipped around the globe
Largest carrier of shipping containers in the world
Conveyor belt running at a constant speed
Changing the way the world thinks about shipping with regards to sustainability
Able to deliver what they promise
Logistics
What is described when we use the word to describe a given system?
Can come to see things like modernity and war in a different way
May perhaps develop a different relationship to our world
The economy is an exercise in logistics
oPreparation, transportation, storage, mobilization (of resources on a planetary scale)
“Today’s supply chains are distinguished not just by their planetary extension and incredible
speed but by their direct integration of manufacture and retail, their harmonization of the
rhythms of production and consumption.” - Jasper Bernes, “Logistics, Counterlogistics, and the
Communist Prospect”
Not just the means by which things and people are moved from one place to another
Becomes a lifestyle
We have come to eschew the necessity of going to smaller retailers, replacing this with big box
warehouses such as Costco and Ikea
Sustained and focused development of planetary systems that comprise logistics have largely
been intensified that they have become a truly nihilistic enterprise
Inflect the whole of contemporary experience
No longer the means by which we collectively manage resources
Life itself has been reorganized to facilitate and accommodate for the continuous flow of
resources
Things are devoured and discarded as quickly as they appear, in a world that is without stable
reference points
Amazon fulfillment centre
oWhat we see from the outside is a massive structure, enclosing the activities that are
not apparent to us
oWe choose not to think about the activities or choose to see them
oFunctional parts of a massive global enterprise serve as nodes in a supply chain where
the state of the inventory is assessed and replenished
oVital to the entire process of moving goods and just-in-time production methods
oNot simply warehouses where over-supplied goods are stored
oOld production process (mass producing then storing left overs) is no longer viable
Maximize the flow of goods going in and out so that they sit in storage for as little time as
possible and remain in circulation for as much time as possible
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Structures like these are constantly being reoriented so that everything is constantly in
circulation
New technologies are being developed constantly to make sure that the process is running most
efficiently
Constant circulation of things is being concretized and all the more productive
Use of automated pick and pack systems is the standard now
oEliminate the use of human labour as much as possible
Creation of one massive interconnected grid whereby people and materials never stop moving
(circulating)
The interiors of this centres are organized on giant computers
oMaximize the amount of goods transported/processed
Technique is employed to ensure that the one best of way of making this happen is used all the
time
Airports are the forerunners of this kind of logistical model
No loops, no unnecessary movements, no wasted spaces, no unnecessary waiting
Things are moved from one step to another in the least amount of moves possible, as fast as
possible
There is no longer a centralized point of production for any given product
Commodities are collected, assembled, modified before they are sent on to their destination
Product is often not even completed by the company it is branded as
oReorganized in the effort for maximum efficiency
Distribution centres are only one part of the story
oMiddle-man between global operations and local operations
Network can be reconfigured to account for changing conditions of the marketplace
Logistical network can be realigned to eliminate any inefficiencies
It is not the way in which workers are affected that is important – it is the way in which this
planetary set up links to other topics we’ve mentioned, as well as qualities that are evident
throughout the system and the world
Global system that coordinates different productive moments across vast international
differences
Must remind ourselves why this global network is the purest expression of enframing
oPlanetary technology that literally reduces everything it touches to a series of steps in a
pre-determined order
Maersk Line and Containerization
In today’s day and age, nearly everything is available all the time
oFresh fruit
oAffordable technology
This is possible as a result of containerization
Modernizing how we handle and transport products
Container that could be moved between trucks, trains, and ships
Late 1960s, cellular container ship was introduced
Trucks and train-lines were modified to fit the new industry standard
Immediate success
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