March 26, 2007

Make it Yourself

As a long-distance traveler and somewhat of a 'granola-guy', I am moving more and more in directions away from buying what some corporate marketing analyst has put on the store shelves and instead looking at 'making' what I need with my own skill with my own hands. These 'Projects' are not for show or to brag, but to just show that if you have a problem you can put a little time, effort, and creativity into it to come up with a unique and very personal solution that doesn't have a corporate stamp on it. These are not 'get rich' ideas, just simple 'I should have thought of that' kind of stuff.

We are much more helpless now than our ancestors were. Admit it, it's so much easier to hire someone to fix something or buy what you think you need. Who ever 'makes' anything themselves anymore? So much of what we buy has planned obsolescence built it. It's made to wear out soon, and can't be repaired. So, why do we spend so much money on such items.

In days past, when something broke, you fixed it. If you needed something, you made it with materials on hand. If you think about it, that is what made our civilization what it is, human beings pushing their creativity father and farther. Eventually we reached the moon. But, somewhere along the line, we forgot to pass this on to future generations. Most kids today have incredible dexterity to play video games but have no idea how to use ordinary tools.

Everyday we are being reduced to the lowest common denominator by our corporate benefactors. Individuality is pushed out of the marketplace. Doesn't it seem that all the stores sell the same things. And lately I've noticed that radio stations are playing the same songs 'at exactly the same time!' That old stand by that you've bought for years is being pushed off the shelf not by an improved version, but to give space for some new and different product that someone thinks we 'need'. But I am not like everyone else, and I certainly am not the lowest common denominator of society. [smile]

The only way to become more 'creative' is to practice. Start small but always stay simple. And don't fret if your ideas don't work, or what will be most cases, end up costing you more than the store bought solution. The more you learn, the better your future ideas. And we have a HUGE resource our ancestors didn't have, 'the internet'. How great it is to see how some other guy handled a similar problem across the country, helping me skip the missteps and onto a better idea. Technology is to be used, not worshipped or depended on. Ultimately, the only thing you will always have is your mind, so use it or loose it.

Most of the projects I work on fulfill a need, either too small for corporate world to bother with, or I have more specific requirements that cannot be addressed on a corporate scale. For example, my latest project was a 'pot stand-windscreen' for a backpacking stove. Maybe not something that would get a corporate boardroom a buzz, but to me and those hikers like me, it's important. Total cost about $4 and took me an hour to make. But in the final analysis, I believe what I built with my own hands has the best combination of efficiency, lightweight, low cost and easy to construct when compared to anything that can be bought.

The final idea here is that I'm not 'creating' something to make my fortune. I am creating just to create, just to see something where there was nothing before, just to use my brain and hands to mold ideas into reality. So, what are you waiting for! Build something, paint something, mold something, cook something, sew something, construct something, sing something, write something, play something, MAKE SOMETHING!

Links:
Instructables.com: Step-by-Step Collaboration
MakeZine.com: Technology on Your Time