BREA, California – This third installment of the History Corner on obsolescence concerns itself with people in the oil and gas industry who have been rendered redundant by the advance of technology, or should have been.
Seismic Data Processor
Before the computers got smarter than everybody, corrections to raw seismic data such as migration had to be done by hand. This was extremely labor intensive and required armies of people to do the job. They’re all gone now. The whole process of interpreting seismic data is so automated that nobody knows what’s being done to the data and it’s impossible to double-check. Remember how 3-D seismic was supposed to make everything else obsolete? It didn’t.
Yes, a few log analysts are still around, but when was the last time you actually saw one or talked to one? I was a member of the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts but these days it’s Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts. So what was the point of that?
People in middle management have never actually done anything useful since time immemorial. Their function was to kiss the asses of senior management and put themselves in the running for promotion. Oil companies are finally catching on to that fact and have started cutting entire layers of middle management. To quote Dèng Xiǎopíng Dòngbīn, CEO of Bendovus, “Those bums were sucking up money that could have gone into my bonus.”
In the early days of the oil business it was the job of draftsmen to take the crude crayon maps drawn by geologists and create something legible and presentable. Now, computer aided design (CAD) programs and large scale printers have mostly supplanted skilled draftsmen. Some have made the transition to CAD but many others haven’t. In the UK the term is draughtsman.
Before the advent of word processers and personal computers, companies employed squads of people (almost exclusively women) to produce typewritten documents from handwritten source material. Also, the art of stenography is dying out. This is using shorthand to record dictation or take notes at a meeting. Gregg Shorthand is no longer taught in public schools. You may run across references to the “typing pool” or the “steno pool,” the common terms for the groups of typists and stenographers. A secondary but important function of the pools was to provide sexual harassment victims.