Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. And today.

The word of the day in advertising today is a coinage so mean only a technocrat or an HR professional could have devised it.

While this is supposed to be a "human" business, one in which "you matter," the people on my floor of the agency are being "densified."

Yes, "densified."

We are going from sitting four in a row to sitting five in a row. Our space is being decreased by 20% and, I suppose, our distractions and concomitant noise-level will increase 20%.

In a business where we pay almost constant lip-service to the power and efficacy and primacy of creativity, we have a work environment that resembles something out of a pre-International Ladies Garment Workers Union factory.
The Triangle Shirtwaist building, 1911.
On a lark, I looked up the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 25, 1911. 123 women and 23 men died in the fire, many of smoke inhalation, many jumped to their deaths. 

The dead were almost all women. The youngest was 14. The oldest was 43.

A typical floorplan in 1911 and 2016.
The youngest were just 14, Kate Leone and Rosaria Maltese.

The owners of Triangle Shirtwaist, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were indicted on first and second-degree manslaughter charges, primarily because they had locked the exit doors in the factory.

Max Blanck and Issac Harria, owners of the Triangle Shirtwaist company.
They were acquitted.

Two years later, Blanck was arrested for once again locking the exit doors in his factory. He was fined $20.

I am not for even a scintilla of a nano-second claiming that our densified conditions violate any fire codes or laws.

I will say it's a helluva way to work.

I have prodigious powers of concentration, but at times the cacophony is such that I feel my head is in an industrial dryer.

Peter Drucker called those who work with data or information, "knowledge workers." 

There was something exalted about the phrase. We think for a living.

Today, knowledge workers are treated like factory workers.

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