Category Archives: carriage

horseless carriages

The “horseless carriage” is a metaphor that’s often used when talking about reading in a screen environment. Offhand, I don’t know where this metaphor started (McLuhan probably had a hand in it). The idea is basic but important: thinking about the automobile as a “horseless carriage” blinds one to what an automobile can do that a carriage can’t do. Metaphors carry historical deadweight.

Last year the Noguchi Museum had an exhibition on collaborations between Isamu Noguchi and Buckminster Fuller which featured video of Fuller’s Dymaxion car. Through the wonder of Youtube, you can watch it now:

One of Fuller’s main innovations with the Dymaxion car was to move the steering from the front – as is the case when you’re steering horses from a carriage – to the rear, which mechanically makes more sense. This video of the Dymaxion car is revelatory: we have so much trouble parallel parking because automotive engineers unthinkingly followed old models.