Some jobs don't die. They just morph with technology. Business Insider recently detailed 11 jobs from 1850 that are now supposedly extinct. The criteria for selection by BI was that positions existed in 1850, but are no longer listed among the 31,000 jobs recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Apparently that qualifies them as “totally extinct.” But that ain’t necessarily so, as my 1850 relatives might have said. So, with apologies to Business Insider, here is their list of extinct jobs and my observations on how technology has revived them.
1. Chimney-sweeps: "Someone who inspects and cleans chimneys." Now: Network administrators. They keep pathways clear and clean to avoid fires. By the way, a quick Google check found three or four real chimney-sweeps in my town of 80,000, so extinct is definitely a stretch.
2. Daguerreotypists: “These people were the pioneers of photography using the camera obscura, an optical device that projects an image of its surroundings on a screen.” Now: Camera Module Design Engineers at Apple and other companies. Their work allows me to stream video of my surroundings onto screens around the world from my iPhone.
3. Drover: “Someone who drives cattle or sheep.” Now: IT managers. Modern drovers exist in virtually all tech companies. They are the managers who have to organize engineers and their projects.
4. Hemp dressers: “Someone who worked in the linen industry separating the coarse parts of hemp.” Now: Senior software developers. The task of untangling messy code often falls into their laps.
5. Lapidaries: “An artist who collects precious gemstones and minerals and forms them into decorative items.” Now: Venture capitalists. They are always looking for the diamond in the rough and transforming it into the next "Big Thing" to decorate Wall Street.
6. Lathmaker: “Someone who works to set up, operate, or tend wood sawing.” Now: Lathe engineers. These are modern day, patent-touting lathmakers.
7. Match Makers: “Someone whose job consists of matching two people up, usually for the purpose of marriage.” Now: eHarmony, Match.com and, basically, every other online dating site’s employees.
8. Occultists: “People who study magic, alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, and divination.” Now: Google engineers. What else do we call these inventors of self-driving cars, glasses that show images no one else can see and whatever else comes from Google’s labs?
9. Quarrymen: “A man who works in or manages a quarry, which is a type of open pit mine for extracting rocks and minerals.” Now: Open Source site operators. These operators manage sites where users extract code to serve as the rocks, minerals and foundation for their projects.
10. Shoe peg maker: “This is a traditional form of shoe-making using pegged construction.” Now: Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh. The obvious successor to a shoe peg maker may not be making pegged shoes, but certainly has selling shoes online pegged.
11. Salaeratus makers: “A person who makes baking soda. “ Now: Skyonic. This startup's SkyMine technology extracts and mineralizes carbon dioxide from industrial flue gas and turns it into baking soda and other products.
Image: Wikimedia Commons