Night-time as the right time for work
We experience the night as an impressive natural spectacle, as a menacing or inspiring darkness. But isn’t the night also just the dark half of the day which can be filled with work? The development of artificial illumination created new spaces for work and communication. Night employment, once limited to the most essential tasks, could now be expanded to many other areas. Gradually, the border between day and night dissolved – culminating in a constant global exchange. Take a look at a busy night in the service of communication – time to get the coffee on the go!
Shift work – Time is money
With shift work, time becomes more valuable than ever. The workforce remains awake all around the clock, needs to be efficient and cope well with stress. Night shifts dissolve the accustomed work-life rhythms, which have to be newly calibrated. Production times expand to include the night, and people have to adapt to a new reality.
© Museum for Communication Berlin, photo: Philipp Jester
Post and Logistics – From horses to planes
The Pocket Dictionary of Postal Systems tells us: “In postal transport, a fast and uninterrupted service is crucial”. Distance and the delivery speed determine the time each postal item takes to arrive at its destination. The night-time is very valuable for transporting mail. In the fifteenth century, postillions rode through the night; today DHL logistics centres are serviced by long-haul flights from across the world.
© Museum Foundation Post and Telekommunication
Transport – No downtime
Whether on the rails or roads, by air or water, night-time traffic is essential in a globalised world – not just for transporting goods, but also for the regional and long-distance services needed to transport people. For those providing the service, this entails night shifts. For travellers at night, it offers the optimal use of time, arriving– ideally –well-rested at the destination.
24/7 – Always on
The end of the working day – and we are looking forward to a night of restful sleep. But constant internet access and the mass of distractions get in the way. Electronic devices such as tablets or smartphones are no longer just part of our daily life. They also fill our night hours until just before we fall asleep. Increasingly, the absence of any dividing line between online and offline, work and leisure, relaxation and consumption, robs us of our sleep.
Photo: Peter Boesang
Artificial illumination – Let there be light!
Artificial light is a weapon in our fight against darkness and a means of creating extra time for living. Lights gives us control over the night. For a long time, the candle flame was the only light in the darkness. But the spirit of invention and the resulting milestones in illumination enable us to use the night as the ‘other half of the day’.
© Museum for Communication Berlin