Opinion | Re-envisioning the idea of industry by shifting away from physical medium
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 00:10
A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in a design competition centered on the revitalization of Cleveland’s Detroit Superior Bridge.
This looked to integrate the growing population and commercial center of downtown with the industrial complexes that lay across the Cuyahoga River, with the goal ultimately being to reinvent the way in which industry is used to facilitate new economic growth. It is the question of “What constitutes industry” that became the center of discussion.
The literal definition of industry, according to Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary, is the part of general economy focused on manufacturing.
For American culture, as well as many worldviews, this is directly associated with the manufacturing of particular goods and infrastructure; such as the industries of steel of automobiles. This perception of industry, one that is based on historical and nostalgic views, is one that is still held and sought by many.
However, in the current climate of global evolution it is becoming clearer that the term industry needs to be rethought. As emergent history has shown us the rise and fall of manufacturing is directly associated with the progress and development of the nation in which it is associated with. Within these developing countries there is often a surplus of under skilled labor, coupled with lower cost living and pay requirements, allowing manufacturing to flourish.
In developed countries the question of what is industry shifts to redefinition of industry.
To start we can begin with the perception of industry within a country. Here I will reference American society and perception, as it is pertinent to the discussion and a topic of discussion in current affairs. As stated earlier, American perception is predicated on the past historical context of growth. America was built on the back of industry; manufacturing built the infrastructure of the country and drove its expansion and unified control.
Contained also is the mantra of manifest destiny which permeates the American culture ever since its inception. Within this principle was the idea of movement and control. Within movement is instilled the idea of freedom, to be able to move and spread over the land as seen fit.
Control allowed the land to become subjugated under the spirit, as divine right dictated that superiority was inherent. Manufacturing thus became the embodiment of this principle, as it was able to drive that need for expansion and create a subdued environment for mastery. This inevitably created an inseparable connection between manufacturing, industry and the American populous since it is a core constitution towards the identity of its people.
It is not in terminating this connection that we can be successful in redefining industry. The destruction of this strong link would only weaken what the goal is, which is to facilitate and sustain new economic and societal growth.
Instead, it is by working within this framework that the redefinition of industry is possible; through the predominate reconstitution of manufacturing through technologies.
Technology is often associated with non-physical elements, or taking place in a non-physical realm. As an example computer software is not a physical thing, but rather contained on a physical medium such as a disk. The disk is manufactured, while the technology is developed, a semantics of words but one that is key.
The term manufacturing always deals in the physical construction of physical material. In this way manufacturing is the creation of physical being, the manifestation of known (and sometimes unknown) elements. It is this physical constitution that enables the concepts of external properties (ideologies, thoughts, etc.) to adhere themselves, as often times they seek representation.
In development, however, we see a different ideology. Development almost always deals with the immaterial, that is to say is either a representation of immaterial things or directly references an immaterial presence.
The phrase “developing country” insinuates a state of being as opposed to a physical location or action is evident of this.
The re-envisioning of manufacturing is centered around the resolution of this division of physical and immaterial. Within technology we already see a symbiosis of the physical process and the metaphysical construction.
The next step is the dissolution of the physical ideology that goes with the manufacturing process all together. Technology, as an immaterial medium, can be treated as a manufactured item as long as the shift away from strict physicality occurs.
The question of what is industry is one that is always a concern among any country or its citizens. As a chief economic proponent the ability to manufacture is a key element of that industry.
However, by utilizing the immateriality of the field of technology and centering the processes of manufacturing around them, the country can establish a new industry to meet the current times.