By Hand & Brain: Essays on Making & Culture

Through Rus­sell Davies I found By Hand & Brain, a series of essays by the great and good (not always the same peo­ple) of future think­ing and mak­ing, vague­ly on the sub­ject of “how does it feel to be liv­ing and mak­ing things now”? They’re all worth read­ing in their entire­ty, but here’s a list with a per­son­al high­light of each.

Lau­ra Pot­ter writes about the pow­er of the act of mak­ing, and I think this quote also tang­ien­tal­ly applies to writ­ing:

The abil­i­ty to artic­u­late your thoughts through and with mat­ter, rather than just make it into a shape you have thought of, means that you are more like­ly to find inno­v­a­tive or cre­ative ways to exploit both mate­ri­als and machin­ery.

Alice Tay­lor also writes about mak­ing, and this quote real­ly struck me, because the major­i­ty of things I’ve made are also gone:

Dig­i­tal things are far more tem­po­ral, tran­si­tive; all my dig­i­tal cre­ations from pre 2000 have dis­ap­peared, gone, nev­er to be seen again. That’s a weird feel­ing.

Bruce Ster­ling is a lit­tle more dis­mis­sive of the mak­er move­ment, or rather in its role in chang­ing cul­ture:

I’m unclear on how we’re sup­posed to get by through the almighty pow­er of pecha-kucha hack­er­spaces. I see zil­lions of those and they’re groovy, but they don’t reap wheat or change dia­pers; there’s some­thing creepy and flim­sy about them — “favela chic”.

War­ren Ellis under­lines some­thing I’m real­ly inter­est­ed in, the idea that mod­ern cul­ture is real­ly not that unique, and that we ignore his­tor­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tions of our behav­iour:

Some­times I won­der if (West­ern) cul­ture only works if we have this weird cul­tur­al amne­sia that allows us to believe that we’re doing every­thing right this time. We for­get all the oth­er peri­ods where peo­ple thought the same thing.

And William Gib­son points out that we’re prob­a­bly not the best peo­ple to talk about our cul­ture:

We can’t see our cul­ture very well, because we see with it.

No offence intend­ed to Rod McLaren who also wrote an excel­lent piece, it just didn’t have an emi­nent­ly quotable sen­tence.