March 07, 2008

'Will DIY geeks save American ingenuity?' via Collision Detection

I've been an avid reader of Clive Thompson for some time. Being a subscriber and a fan of Wired magazine since the late 1990's, his writing always spoke to me and his most recent article is no exception. Thompson recently updated his blog to coincide with the publication of his commentary on 'How DIYers Just Might Revive American Innovation' in the latest 16:03 issue (Wired's 15th Anniversary).

I know it has nothing to do with music nor am I (or John) American, but it speaks to all people who are venturing out on their own to create art, a way of life, a business and a new set of rules to work by. The DIY culture is one we obviously feel close to being the founders of this project, Fotosis, and our various other hobbies. As someone with no formal education, I know that skills are in demand, that there are many who are out there doing things that weren't taught but learned, experienced firsthand, hands dirty and curious. Let's keep this innovation going then and hope the movement avoids being pigeon-holed into a mere trendy past-time and remains a true revolution.

From blog: "Can you fix things that break in your household? Probably not. Our schools systematically stream "smart" people away from working with their hands, and I think that's a huge problem for the US, on pretty much every level -- commercially, globally, intellectually and spiritually, really."

From Wired:

"The decay has been rapid. Only a few decades ago, most serious adults were expected to be fluent in basic mechanics. If your car or stove or radio broke down, you opened it up and fixed it. "Magazines like Popular Mechanics in the '40s and '50s would publish projects like an automated pig-feeding trough, and they assumed you had the tools and skills to make it," says Dale Dougherty, editor and publisher of Make magazine.

But as we migrated to an information economy, those skills began to seem as quaint as, well, mechanical clocks. America's bright future, we were assured, wasn't industrial. It was in the hands of "symbolic analysts" -- folks who sat at desks and thought for a living. In the '90s, the rise of the Internet sent this post-mechanical age into a sort of giddy overdrive. Remember Nicholas Negroponte urging everyone to "move bits, not atoms"?

But when we stop working with our hands, we cease to understand how the world really works."

Read the blog post on Collision Detection.
Read the Wired article.

- C

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