I believe whole heartedly that technology drives social change. In keeping with the 4 of the 5 letters of my last name, Henry Ford a little over 100 years ago changed the world forever with his technological innovations.
Ford was not the inventor of the horseless carriage; one could argue that the no single person was; what he did do was innovate the manufacturing industry, changed the lives of the average American worker and drove the advancement of ground transport systems everywhere.
As with many great inspirations men have, they are somehow connected to a woman. When Ford was married to Clara Bryant in 1888 she required him to get a better paying in job. This lead to Ford’s Chief Engineer position with Edison Illuminating Company which was where he began experimenting with internal combustion engines. He created a Quadricycle, which was a bicycle with four wheels and an engine. This invention was the basis to the founding of Ford Motor Company.
By 1918, half of all cars in the U.S. were a Model T. To keep up with such demand Ford built a new factory based on a conveyor belt and interchangeable parts that spit out a completed car every 24 seconds. This level of productivity drove prices down, and for the first time the general public could partake in the automobile craze.
Unforeseen to Ford when he set out to produce automobiles was the reform he would have for workers in every industry. Ford was the first to have eight hour work days opposed to nine which was typical at the time. He also paid his workers more than other jobs, upping the value of the “minimum wage”.
Ford’s technology both in manufacturing and the automobile transformed the direction of American society forever. It created urbanization patterns that sparked the development of suburbia, created transcontinental highway systems, effected trade agreements, immigration patterns, the formation of new economies and the list can go on. If The Forde Institute was around at the time, we believe that by assessing the form the technologies were taking that we would have been able to predict these human based changes, and this is what we aim to do moving forward.
Henry Ford was a great representation of the significant impact technological innovation can have on humanity. However, as human consciousness evolves so does the innovation that comes with it and this leads me to my surname. Forde, which for the purpose of this blog entry is the next step in how technological solutions are prescribed. The “e” in my last name is the environmental component of technological innovation. Environmental is sustainability, it transcends specifically natural systems, and encompasses both humanity and mother earth alike.