Make Things from Scratch
Making things is a form of learning, probably the best one. We seem to naturally know this when it comes to creative pursuits; classes on writing, podcasting, painting, etc. are all taught as workshops. The process in a workshop-style class is:
- (Maybe) receive a lesson on how to make X.
- Go make X, accept that it may suck a bit at first
- Do some learning in public, sharing your process, partials, and results with classmates
- Receive criticism which you use to make X better
- Repeat, now a little bit better at making X
Making Things Creates Knowledge
If we accept that it’s valuable to know irrelevant things, then there’s also a value in creating physical or digital products that are “inferior” to the products that we could purchase. Whether or not the food (or music, or hats) you make at home competes with store-bought, professionally-made versions, there’s a value in creating something yourself. These activities enrich our lives in qualitative ways, even though the quantitative analysis might say purchasing them is the better option.
Making things online is an excellent way to become more tech literate.
Making Things Means Full Control
There’s a great moment from one of his few interviews where Bill Wurtz is asked what music he likes and says that at times he will cut together moments from songs he enjoys, cutting out the parts he doesn’t like. Not everybody cares about music enough to do that, but what if we all did? You could go the rest of your life choosing to never listen to even a second of a song that you didn’t enjoy. A similar logic holds true for almost everything. The best way to love every part of your kitchen or desk or even music library is to custom-build. This isn’t always feasible due to any number of constraints, but on the whole, more control does mean more enjoyment.
“From Scratch” does not mean “without help”
One of my favorite things I’ve seen online a few times:
Which is pretty equivalent to the Carl Sagan quote:
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Unfinished things still teach you
By 35 you should have at least two abandoned blogs, one dormant podcast or streaming channel, three RPG campaigns prepped but never run, and five unfinished novels (graphic, text, or interactive).— Daniel Solis – New video in Pinned Tweet! (@DanielSolis) May 20, 2018
In the same way that irrelevant things are still valuable to know, unfinished products are still valuable to make.
Bill Wurtz talking about music on a podcast
A post from pluralistic.net about knowledge and app-building
A post from Mental Nodes about consumption and creation