The goal of this specific writing is to consider public works as
though it were extraordinary. Sometimes lazier people are
over-awed by the efforts made by public works workers, and this
reputation is not entirely without meaning.
First, I will illustrate several areas of public works, and then I will
describe general and specific attributes which characterize the
Public works includes mostly recycling and garbage disposal,
street-cleaning, maintaining city sewage systems, and maintaining
electricity (although sometimes these functions are also privately
owned). It can also include water supply regulation and storm
response, as well as a variety of clerical jobs.
Public works workers are known for the amount of work they do
relative to the information involved. There is a small
cross-section of information, and a strong empowerment to act on
the knowledge, usually through equipment such as vehicles and
cleaning tools. Some of the tasks are more technical than others,
but all require considerable commitment, sometimes on a
One of the general properties of many aspects of public works is
the desire to reduce the task to a standard medium. For example,
garbage and recycling bins are standardized, and consumer goods
are standardized to make processing of recycling easier, and to
make most common goods easily disposable. Even furniture is
often easily dismantled, rather than being built of solid metal. In
this way, public works has an influence on the way society works.
In some cases, the standard medium requires more or less
expertise than garbage disposal. For example, control of the city
water supply is over-watched by a few experts, but is otherwise
more easily maintained. Electricity and sewage, however,
requires a larger number of hands-on experts, particularly when
storms or heavy rains threaten the system's functioning.
Municipal staff such as electricians and sewage workers are
carefully watched by city officials to make sure their work is
being done effectively, and in a cost-effective manner. Annual or
monthly reports are sent to office workers who are held
accountable by the city government.
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