Another product of E-hippie peer pressure, Make magazine, was finally seen at a newsstand. So I bought it, and it is the first magazine I’ve ever wanted to destroy. Given that I keep all my magazines and have issues dating back to the 1980s in boxes here, things must really be bad.
They are. Make is a well-designed, well-written, Granta-sized quarterly about “hacking” your own “technology.” The production values are high, and ostensibly I should be attracted to the topic. I have “hacked” several “technologies,” from a camouflaged bike (too-elaborate instructions for which are in this issue) to creative reuse of household objects. (My cutlery sits on an Ikea shoe rack on top of the fridge. Shoes sit on car mats.) I should be perfectly situated in the target market.
But I cannot stand the entire ethos involved, nor any of the principals. It reeks of Creative Commons peer pressure: You must be a corporate drone if you buy off the rack. (It used to be only the goyim paid retail. Now it’s you!) The magazine comes from O’Reilly, publisher of computer books so ugly only an autistic could love them. There’s an editorial from capo di tutti usual suspects Cory Doctorow, who is overdue for an outright backlash and is no doubt included because the coeditor of his blog is Make’s editor-in-chief.
But fundamentally, I don’t want an ovoid stereo speaker hanging from the ceiling and above all I don’t want objects in my house with exposed edges or wiring. Apart from the safety issue (I can and will bump into any projecting edge or corner, absolutely none of which exist in my house for that reason), it’s unæsthetic.
Make fills me with the same repugnance I get from Pilgrim’s ideological caterwauling about open platforms. He’d make a great fundamentalist preacher; he’s certainly mean enough. The world that Make documents, and that Pilgrim wishes to foster and nurture, is one in which people half-listened to a documentary on television about the punk era and somehow decided that “DIY” is a guiding principle for everyday living.
I’m sorry, but I suck at building telephones and computers. I spend a lot of time fighting assholes who don’t give a shit about my expertise and qualifications. I’m not about to go around acting like I have expertise and qualifications I do not have. I am not a tinkerer-geek; that’s why I don’t use Windows. I expect the products I use to be adequately designed and tested up front and without a day-long assembly process. Ideally they would be very thoroughly designed and tested.
Make and Pilgrim have forced me to realize I fervently believe in totalitarian design management. Or at least I believe in it fervently if you’re trying to ram some kind of Maker Faire (sic; the name is its own punchline) or Creative Commons or open-source crapola down my throat. Steve Jobs is exactly the right model, or at least the right model for negative taste (knowing what to take out). I want things to work and to work well. I don’t want to have to solder my own circuit boards or maintain my own machine shop. Nor can every household problem be solved by a reused pop bottle.
In honour of the Make æsthetic, I shredded the issue with my own two hands.