Colin Barry

The Factory System / Slater & Lowell (CMC, Thursday, Week 2)


Raw cotton => Ginned (removes seeds) => Carded (breaks up clumps) => Combed (straighten) => Spun (make yarn) => Weave (make cloth)

If you think today's arguments about IP protection/patent enforcement are new and different, you are totally wrong.
-- Constant tension between jump-starting an industry/diffusion of tech/prosperity for the masses vs. protecting innovation/incentivizing discovery
-- People talking about patenting algorithms (for designing manufacturing set-ups) in the early 19th century
-- Conflict between developed countries (England) and developing (America) over IP rights against backdrop of global competitiveness/nationalism

Close relationship between production and marketing/sales is relatively new.
Prior to Lowell company, manufacturers just produced a ton of cloth without regard for demand.\

Made a mint in good times
Ended up with ridiculous oversupply in bad times
Little ability to foresee/react to exogenous shocks.

US vs. UK in cloth => vertical integration vs. modularity/intermediation
Slater: Centralized spinning, de-centralized weaving.
Lowell: "Put your looms where your mills are, bro."
If handoffs are costly/inefficient (and they were), vertical integration is probably the way to go.