August 27, 2009

cybersyn

cybersyn.jpg

The control room of Project Cybersyn, via Speedbird. More on Cybersyn from Varnelis here:

In 1970, Dr. Salvador Allende was elected President of Chile... As a doctor, Allende was attracted to scientific methods and when Flores proposed a technocratic means of controlling the industry, he agreed, hiring on his recommendation British management guru/scientist/visionary Stafford Beer to create Project Cybersyn, a system with which to monitor the output of factories, the flow of materials, rates of absenteeism, and other indicators on a daily basis.

[In the Control Room,] seven swivel chairs with buttons in the armrests, themselves influenced by Saarinen's Silla Tulip Chairs, were clustered in a circle as advisors processed data from large projection screens. The armrests of each chair were outfitted with ash trays and spaces for drinks. Although there was no space for writing, which was prohibited, buttons allowed occupants to control the material on the screens and provide feedback. Since the advisors were used to secretaries doing the typing, there was no keyboard interface. Instead, large buttons, fit for pounding on, if necessary, allowed officials to make their decisions. But computer graphics was not yet ready for the job. The displays were not CRTs with computer generated data. Instead, industrial designers would painstakingly produce the diagrams by hand. These would be photographed and projected as slides onto the display screens. As Robert Sumrell mentioned to me, this proves that they had more faith in the computer than if they had actually had machines produce the renderings.

Posted by eatingbark at August 27, 2009 3:20 PM
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