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January 23, 2005

History of Call Centers

KILKENNY -- I had a contract several years ago that involved promoting Dublin as a destination for people from eastern Europe. The idea was that they would come looking on the internet for cool places to hang out after finishing college and they would parachute into Dublin where they might need to pay the rent. They might be easy targets for call center employment. The concept worked for nearly eight months, then Dublin entered the upper tier of inflationary pressures. It's simply much more difficult to slum around in Dublin than in Berlin, Prague, or Budapest. Irish graduates know that and they're filling airline seats to those destinations where they often find free accommodation at the end of the runway. You can squat with impunity in Berlin. That kind of lifestyle used to work in Temple Bar, before it was sucked into the development plan by the Irish government.

Call centers to back to the Stone Age. The Call Centre Confidential blog explains:
The first Call Centres were created when people in the Stone Age began to live together. Before, when people lived in caves, they used to communicate to their neighbours using smoke signals: “Please can we order one of those sabre toothed tiger skin rugs.”

When they moved away from the comfort of the caves and began to build houses and live in villages, they built beacons on the top of the nearest hill so they could communicate to the next village: “Our rugs have gone bald – can we have a refund?”

These beacons were the first Call Centres.

They were staffed by the local student population, between their ‘Wheel Studies’ they would throw sticks on the fire under the control of a ‘Tribal Leader’ who dreamed of doing something better with his life, such as appearing in Ray Harryhausan films, but working on the beacon was a ‘stop gap’.

More at Call Centre Confidential, the weblog.


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