This is one of those questions that I’m having a hard time quantifying, but I’m thinking of asking it something like this:
What technology used to facilitate a major human activity has reduced the percentage of time that the average person spends engaged in that activity?
For example, I thought early on of cars, given how much less time it takes a person to travel a given distance in a car compared to on foot. However, it seems likely to me that we spend at least as much time traveling today as people did 500 years ago–we just travel much further than we used to.
And it might be that card shufflers reduce the time it takes to shuffle cards, but that’s not really a major human activity.
I have a guess:
The sewing machine
but I really don’t know if that’s correct.
Any thoughts? Better yet, any cites?