Made by Hand

Mark Frauenfelder, a leading voice of the post-industrial age, has a new book out today.

It's not what you expect, and it provoked quite a few thoughts.

  • The book is about the increasing insulation between modern life and the idea of actually making/growing/fixing things. As Mark chronicles his journey into the world of tinkering, I realized that this is a spiritual journey, not merely a hobby. Tweaking, making and building are human acts, ones that are very easy to forget about as we sign up to become cogs in the giant machinery of consumption and production.
  • Mark has shepherded the world's most popular blog for eons. What do we owe him for that? Even if the book is merely good, shouldn't it sell a million copies, if only as a gratuity? Of course it's not merely good, it's foundation-shaking, at least for me.
  • Is it any surprise that Publisher's Weekly didn't like it? Of course not. The anonymous reviews in this dying trade publication are almost always diametrically opposed to what the book delivers and whether it's interesting enough for a bookstore to sell. Almost all bestselling books are surprise bestsellers, because it's the surprise part that makes them bestsellers in the first place.

This book won't resonate with everyone, but Mark's honest retelling of his repeated failures to be brilliant at all times made me smile, and his relentless and joyous embrace of actually making things was an inspiration.