Cruft #1: Digital Clay

[Author’s note: I’ve built up quite a backlog of unfinished journal entries – cruft, if you will – that is lingering in my drafts folder. In an effort to “sh*t or get off the pot”, I’m gonna pick one at random each month, clean it up just enough to make it presentable, and throw it to the wolves. I started this one Feb 21, 2005 …]

I was talking to an acquaintance who works for the local cable company last night. He’s a field tech, one of those guys who comes out in a van and installs your cable, or troubleshoots things when you can’t get American Idol on channel seven-thousand-and-whatever. During our conversation he mentioned that he and his wife are moving to Hawaii. When asked what he was going to do there, he replied, “oh, maybe learn glassblowing and build furniture out of bamboo.”

This struck me as completely … arbitrary? cool? something. It made me think about that inner-free-spirit that we all have. The bohemian that wants to just pick up and drop into a new job, a new house, a new life.

For my part, my alter ego is off in a dusty barn somewhere that has been converted to a machine shop. It is full of old lathes and milling machines, all circa 1900-1930 or so, and I while away my time building beautiful handmade bicycles. Kinda like this guy.

If asked why this idea appeals to me so much, I’d probably say something about how our society has been slowly turning away from the basic skills and trades that used to be the backbone of our daily lives. The connection between what we do for a living and what it actually has to do with living grows ever more tenuous. We are losing the skills and pasttimes that fulfill us in fundamental ways. In my line of work, software, it is very hard to leave a tangible legacy. There is nothing to be held in the hand, nothing with an inner spirit that can be sensed simply through a tactile caress of the toolmarks left behind by the maker.

Software is the material in which we work, but our hands leave no marks in the clay, and there is no scent of woodshavings falling to the floor.

[Image from here]

One Reply to “Cruft #1: Digital Clay”

  1. Enjoyed your digital clay fingerprints. Looking forward to seeing the digital anachronistic workshop manifest. I’ve got a few projects for you whenever you’re ready… Tod

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