'Do it yourself' limits creativity

Photo by Trisha Handrich.

Photo by Trisha Handrich.

The Internet is a resource for just about anything – a Wikipedia article on European swallows or instructions for finding free yachts, it’s probably lurking somewhere.

If one is patient enough with a search engine, anything seems possible, and the comparative difficulty of using older reference media precipitates a paradigm shift in the way we find information.

Instead of a cookbook, why not keep bookmarks of several different recipe databases? Instead of calling a neighbor, why not look up a lawnmower repair video? Instead of wandering through malls, why not scour Internet retailers for the perfect gift?

With all this access to information of so many different varieties and the increasing availability through wireless technology, the upswing in do-it-yourself culture has taken a turn for the exponential.

I was reading a Wired article recently when it struck me just how frequently I turn to Web sites such as Instructables and YouTube for project ideas and information. In the past few months I used Instructables articles for bread and cookie recipes and have a platform bed in the works based around another user’s guide. I consulted YouTube videos while learning to bind books and hammer form armor pieces.

Now I am considering contributing my own guides to these communities, which is where the real magic starts.

Not only is all this information available, but everyone is invited to contribute. The call to enjoy five minutes of Internet fame and put out information we feel is important is the foundation of the D.I.Y. community; without the support of its users, the system falls apart. I argue that, unfortunately, many people have lost sight of this creative impulse.

In a culture of social networking and constant conversation through myriad applications and services, there just does not seem to be room to share projects and ideas. What level of complexity is reachable in the one- or two-line blurbs allotted by Twitter and Facebook status updates? Or what about the easily-ignored MySpace bulletins and blogs?

I contend that often, even when possible, the effort simply is not extended to teach and explain – two of the more important parts of human relationships.

So here is my encouragement to all you brilliant people out there: the next time you do something interesting, solve a common problem or create something beautiful, record the experience. Then put it out there for the rest of the world to learn, because knowing is half the battle, and teaching is half the fun.

Orion Blaha is a sophomore English major from Goshen.

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