Well, it's obvious that I can talk. And talk. And talk. I like thinking about this craftsman's life I've chosen (or that chose me). And sometimes -- particularly after hours at the wheel with my mind spinning faster than my Pacifica Glyde Torc, I feel the need to get some words down. I write to help me organize my thoughts.
Lately I've had many conversations that circled around the same subject: Is there a new generation of craftsmen out there? ...or has the world evolved enough that an actual change of values has taken place?
And I've had several permutations of this coincidental conversation lately. One was with a fellow from an engineering firm who said that new hires were great with software, but equally great at designing stuff that couldn't be made. His firm concluded that the new hire's schoolin' didn't involve real-life hands-on experience it might take to realize that the things designed by a computer can't actually be made.
Are hands becoming vestigial? Will they someday evolve into a more keypad-user-friendly shape, or can we count on retaining our opposable thumbs so that we can at least still simultaneously grab and hold drivethru burgers and the steering wheel?
Me being involved in the world of craftsmanship, I couldn't help but think of the parallel questions facing us. It is the talk of the pottery world that there seem to be fewer younger people interested in entering this world. If it can't be done while sitting in front of a computer with earbuds in, they aren't interested (so goes the conversation).
And I fear that we've bought the false notion that technology is some sort of evolutionary step forward. But, well...
1) Evolution doesn't step forward or backwards. It just steps.
2) For every step we DO take forward in technology, we lose skills. Sure, some of the skills may be unnecessary (we aren't all very good with horses ever since we got cars....and we aren't very good at working on cars since they became computerized). Still, every once in a while we stumble on a skill that we wish we hadn't let slip. Like politeness, for example.
And, of course, much of this phenomenon is just simply that it is impossible for most people to keep up with the rapid changes that are occurring in every aspect of our lives. I recently spent several hours trying to learn a simple computer task. I can't imagine having the time it would take me to be truly technically savvy on a computer -- all the while keeping up on the changes I should know when wearing my businessman's hat, my marketing hat, my promoter's hat....
It's just crazy. So we end up needing to specialize. But specializing leads to compartmentalizing -- meaning that the guy you deal with is often not the guy who solved the problem with the new process or product, and therefore can't tell you what you need to know about it in order to do YOUR specialized process to the product.
And I think I changed the subject on myself. Twice. Okay, three times.
Oh well, you weren't doing anything today anyway, right?