The very notion of the Do-it-Yourself (or DiY) ethic is different things to different people, and the definition changes depending on who you ask. To your grandfather, DiY could well mean slapping together a makeshift guide for his router table, rather than paying for one that would cost many times more. Your dad might tell you it’s a way of making do with what you have in order to get by, the way you might if you swapped in a pair of pantyhose for a blown fan belt on a car engine. Someone who came of age in the late 1970s and 1980s will go a little further, describing DiY not as an ethic, but as an anti-consumerist movement that spawned whole genres of new music.
DiY questions the uniqueness of the expert’s expertise, and promotes the ability of the ordinary person to learn to do more than he or she thought was possible. But how does one define Do it Yourself for the 21st century? I mean, weaving the sweaters you wear is great and all, but is there a place for DiY in today’s world of gadgets, computers, and high technology?
You’d better believe it. Now, more than ever. People worldwide are re-purposing old electronics, creating entirely new machines where before there was an old shell. Crafting digital video projectors out of old LCD screens and bright light bulbs. Emulating software that ran on long-dead hardware, and undertaking massive arcade cabinet woodworking projects. Making cannons that shoot entire rolls of toilet paper hundreds of feet. Going green and building power-generating windmills, or performing large scale gasoline-to-electric conversions on their cars. Using sophisticated tools, technology, science, and online collaborative learning to take on projects they may previously have thought impossible. This very specific branch of doing it yourself, of geeking it yourself, continues today more strongly than ever.
Welcome to the GiY movement. Now, let’s have some fun.