Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A few thoughts on the book Tinkering: Australians reinvent DIY culture by Katherine Wilson

Tinkering: Australians Reinvent DIY CultureTinkering: Australians Reinvent DIY Culture by Katherine Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book explores the concept of tinkering in Australia. It is based on interviews with several tinkerers (mainly from Victoria) and uses aspects of ethnography as the methodology for this research. This interesting book is based on the doctoral research by the author.

There are useful ideas in this book for libraries which have maker spaces or other connections to makers and tinkerers to consider however, libraries are almost invisible in the work. There could be another interesting research project looking at the connection between libraries and making and tinkering.

The discussion of tinkering in this book includes a wide range of formats including electronics, mechanical, building, research, photography, and jam making. Mending is raised as a tinkering area, but it is acknowledged that more research needs to be done into this area.

There are useful perspectives of failure and mistakes presented through this work. Block, one of the people interviewed for the research states, ‘I make mistakes all the time, that’s how you learn about things and get more experienced. You have to think, and you have to be patient’. Hondo, another interviewee states that you ‘never know if what you imagine will turn out’.

The author writes that when ‘policy makers and bureaucrats make decisions about cultural spaces like Men’s Sheds, Hackerspaces, community gardens, manual education and innovation programs, they need to understand that their magic force lives in quests, stories, senses, skills and the plotting of self in he continuity of experience...For all its senseless and supernatural overtones, magic is an important way to understand the everyday transformative, spellbinding power that pulses through Australia’s sheds, paddocks, kitchens, backyards and workshops’. p83. This idea of forces of magic is an interesting description to use.

While there is no index, there is a useful and detailed list of select references.

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