Things To Do With Washing Lines

In a list of machines invented by Australians including black box flight recorders, cochlear implants, and the world's first portable battery-powered braille writer, there is a familiar story: the Australian invention of a rotary clothes hoist to dry laundry.

The full story from the BBC, in partnership with Sydney's Powerhouse Museum link

The rotary clothes hoist is familiarly known in Australia as the Hill's Hoist, after the company that made most of them after the Second World War. Recent museum work has attempted to address the problem that the real invention was much earlier; an inventor called Gilbert Toyne had four patents listed before the war, but was unable to raise the money to exploit the patents at commercial scale.

As a result, Lance Hill of Adelaide is famously, repeatedly and wrongly credited with inventing the clothes line that carries his name.

The Hill's Hoist was reproduced in miniature as a child's toy, and features as an object of affection in Australian films, artworks, and oral histories.

The Hill's Hoist prompts reflection on fit for purpose. It works in Australia because of the weather. As a result it is a highly efficient means of drying clothes using wind and solar power, but the drawback is that it takes a good deal of human labour to hang out laundry, relative to transferring a load from washer to dryer.

Relevant to federated wiki: despite the idea of quickness inherent in wiki, federated wiki is an example of Slow Technology, and perhaps even de-automation.

It requires human labour at many points—journalling contributions, for example—where automation or syndication might be expected.

Somewhat perversely this investment of labour may be exactly what causes it to be sustained over time.