Cubed: A Secret History Of The Workplace

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Cubed: A Secret History Of The Workplace

by Nikil Saval

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | April 22, 2014 | Hardcover

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You mean this place we go to five days a week has a history? Cubed reveals the unexplored yet surprising story of the places where most of the world''s work—our work—gets done. From "Bartleby the Scrivener" to The Office, from the steno pool to the open-plan cubicle farm, Cubed is a fascinating, often funny, and sometimes disturbing anatomy of the white-collar world and how it came to be the way it is—and what it might become.

In the mid-nineteenth century clerks worked in small, dank spaces called “counting-houses.” These were all-male enclaves, where work was just paperwork. Most Americans considered clerks to be questionable dandies, who didn’t do “real work.” But the joke was on them: as the great historical shifts from agricultural to industrial economies took place, and then from industrial to information economies, the organization of the workplace evolved along with them—and the clerks took over. Offices became rationalized, designed for both greater efficiency in the accomplishments of clerical work and the enhancement of worker productivity. Women entered the office by the millions, and revolutionized the social world from within. Skyscrapers filled with office space came to tower over cities everywhere. Cubed opens our eyes to what is a truly "secret history" of changes so obvious and ubiquitous that we''ve hardly noticed them. From the wood-paneled executive suite to the advent of the cubicles where 60% of Americans now work (and 93% of them dislike it) to a not-too-distant future where we might work anywhere at any time (and perhaps all the time), Cubed excavates from popular books, movies, comic strips (Dilbert!), and a vast amount of management literature and business history, the reasons why our workplaces are the way they are—and how they might be better.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.5 × 6.44 × 1.35 in

Published: April 22, 2014

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385536577

ISBN - 13: 9780385536578

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– More About This Product –

Cubed: A Secret History Of The Workplace

by Nikil Saval

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 368 pages, 9.5 × 6.44 × 1.35 in

Published: April 22, 2014

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385536577

ISBN - 13: 9780385536578

From the Publisher

You mean this place we go to five days a week has a history? Cubed reveals the unexplored yet surprising story of the places where most of the world''s work—our work—gets done. From "Bartleby the Scrivener" to The Office, from the steno pool to the open-plan cubicle farm, Cubed is a fascinating, often funny, and sometimes disturbing anatomy of the white-collar world and how it came to be the way it is—and what it might become.

In the mid-nineteenth century clerks worked in small, dank spaces called “counting-houses.” These were all-male enclaves, where work was just paperwork. Most Americans considered clerks to be questionable dandies, who didn’t do “real work.” But the joke was on them: as the great historical shifts from agricultural to industrial economies took place, and then from industrial to information economies, the organization of the workplace evolved along with them—and the clerks took over. Offices became rationalized, designed for both greater efficiency in the accomplishments of clerical work and the enhancement of worker productivity. Women entered the office by the millions, and revolutionized the social world from within. Skyscrapers filled with office space came to tower over cities everywhere. Cubed opens our eyes to what is a truly "secret history" of changes so obvious and ubiquitous that we''ve hardly noticed them. From the wood-paneled executive suite to the advent of the cubicles where 60% of Americans now work (and 93% of them dislike it) to a not-too-distant future where we might work anywhere at any time (and perhaps all the time), Cubed excavates from popular books, movies, comic strips (Dilbert!), and a vast amount of management literature and business history, the reasons why our workplaces are the way they are—and how they might be better.

About the Author

Nikil Saval is an editor of n+1. He lives in Philadelphia. This is his first book. His first two real jobs were as an editorial assistant in publishing companies—in cubicles.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Cubed : "... Excellent ... fresh and intellectually omnivorous ... Saval is a vigorous writer, and a thoughtful one. What puts him above the rank of most nonfiction authors, even some of the better ones, is that he doesn’t merely present information. He turns each new fact over in his mind, right in front of you, holding it to the light." —Dwight Garner, T he New York Times " Cubed is...a pleasure to read: beautifully written and clearly organized. Since many Americans now, women as well as men, spend more than half their waking hours at work, it''s also an important exploration." —Richard Sennett, T he New York Times Book Review "Lush, funny, and unexpectedly fascinating ... [G]enius ...  Cubed  stands as one of those books readers can open to any page and find the kind of insight they’ll want to yank strangers out of their bus or subway seats and repeat ... [A] beautifully written, original, and essential masterpiece." —Jerry Stahl, Bookforum "There are a lot of books about work... but Cubed offers something different: an entertaining look at the history of the modern worker that the modern worker can actually learn from." — Rosecrans Baldwin, NPR "Impressive... Beautifully written... delightfully readable..."  — Martin Filler,  The New York Review of Books "Thorough and diligent...Saval works hard, and effectively, to demonstrate how the evolution of workspaces paralleled social shifts in the wor
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