Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Everybody's talking about: Doing Things


We are human, we have opposable thumbs and we like to do things with them. Maybe it's because so many people have academic qualifications but no tangible skills. Previous generations new how to do things, they had at least a basic level of technical know-how that meant they could fix, say, the lawn mower if it broke. Now, if something breaks we bin it and buy a new one. Maybe it’s also to do with jobs that are all about organising and not about making anything. From project management to call centre working, so much work is service-based or involves being in the middle of a complex chain of operations with no tangible output. How many people do you know who find it difficult to actually explain what it is they do?

This is a big trend that includes elements of craftsmanship, amateur, frugal and the whole gardening/cooking thing. All of those ideas touch upon a desire to get hands dirty, to do something real, practical or difficult.

We see Doing Things materialise in activities like DIY art; knitting; learning an instrument; allotments; specialist sports; teaching holidays; blogging; volunteering or home baking. Through VideoJug people show the world what they can do; the Interesting conferences are a celebration of the knowledge purely for it’s own sake.

Look at the way so many of our own campaigns include an idea you can do, like make a Magic good mood film, experiment with IKEA textiles in an online roomset; take part in Bowtime in your local boozer.

Also see the DIY book covers and coke cans above.

then there is We Are What We Do (who will be speaking at the APG soon):

"We Are What We Do is a new kind of movement inspiring people to change the world one small action at a time.

Our philosophy is simple:
small actions x lots of people = big change

We have the 130 small things that you can do to change really big things. Pick an action, track it here, and see how it all adds up."

5 comments:

emily said...

It's so true. So many friends speak of the deficit they feel because they don't actually produce anything tangible. Nothing they can touch. That's why craft and art are so big at the moment - as a reaction to digital life.

Phil said...

I was talking to some friends and we were describing our jobs to each other. We all had job titles which included phrases like site controller, project manager and account planner but nothing that actually meant anything tangible. "Account planner? You work in finance then?"

Everyone knows what carpenters and electricians produce. Who knows what a quality control advisor makes.

This is the modern alienation - beyond the original sense of the word whereby a job like making a car is broken into component parts and put on a conveyor belt so no-one gets the satisfaction and self-worth that comes with making a whole thing yourself. Nowadays, we often don't even get to make the door, we simply play a role in the process.

so we buy a blank canvas and some paints...

emily said...

yeah, no one knows what I do. Mostly I just say it's something to do with advertising. There was a phase when we used to go out and invent alternative professions for ourselves. For a long time when someone asked me what I did, I said I owned my own lemon waxing business. People were always interested then.

Was much easier when I was a journo.

Frances said...

I'm not a fan of waxed lemons - it makes the rind unusable which is such a waste!

I spend my spare time making stuff. Not necessarily because I feel the need to produce anything tangible, but because I like creating challenges and then solving them (like how on earth do you make an origami butterfly out of something more solid? Answer: you don't, you make it out of thin card and paint it with furniture lacquer - works a treat).

I hate arts and crafts though - they are often so mundane, too twee, and generally not worth the price tag that gets lumped on them just because they're handmade.

neil said...

Sounds like an idea for IKEA