10 January 2007

thoughts from carolina

while sitting around here reading polanyi and trying to figure out just exactly what i need to do in scotland, there's this TV that is on mostly constantly, which is such a change for me. dad and daryl both watch hgtv and the food network and diy stuff. and although i'm fond of diy stuff, i always wonder why these shows irk me so much. i mean... it's refreshing to see a woman with a drill. but, still. and suddenly it dawned on me exactly why i don't like these shows.

+ the tone of the voice gets to me: "what _i_ like to do..." "you could do this..."
+ their projects are usually a little uninspired
+ they seem so smug about how creative they are

but most of all

+ they show you how to do one particular thing, but don't go into the more basic level of how they came up with this to begin with or how to innovate your own.

because what if i don't want to make a foot stool that's held up by cowboy boots? but the method of drilling/attaching legs was useful for me to know. i just shudder to think that there are hundreds of these foot stools now all over the US looking exactly the same and made by people who think this footstool will make them "B-Original". and then i was thinking about instructables, which, yes, tend to also just show how to do one problem. but i think that having the forum/conversation to ask questions is good for building up your own ideas. sure, replicating something you've seen is good to learn techniques... but at some point, if replication is all you're doing, is it really worth it? what really makes it your own? what if i don't care about cowboy boots or tennis rackets? how do i get from these shows things like, how do you know that you need an 11/64" drill bit with those screws to pre-drill? how do you know you need to notch things? how do you know what tools to use? how do you know what screws? etc. and at some point, the only way to get this knowledge is to either ask someone when you're having trouble or to have it dawn on you one day when you're trying to build something of your own design.

or maybe it really just is their smug tones of voice.

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