Some Winter Reading for Humanist Makers
In December 2004, I bought a copy of Joe Martin's Tabletop Machining to see what would be involved in learning how to make clockwork mechanisms and automata. It was pretty obvious that I had many years of study ahead of me, but I had just finished my PhD and knew that publishing that would take a few years more. So I didn't mind beginning something else that might take ten or fifteen years to master. Since then, I've been reading steadily about making things, but it wasn't until this past fall that I actually had the chance to set up a small Lab for Humanistic Fabrication and begin making stuff in earnest. Since it's December again, I thought I'd put together a small list of books to help other would-be humanist makers.
- Alexander, Christopher. Notes on the Synthesis of Form (Harvard, 1964).
- Ball, Philip. Made to Measure: New Materials for the 21st Century (Princeton, 1999).
- Barrett, William. The Illusion of Technique (Anchor, 1979).
- Basalla, George. The Evolution of Technology (Cambridge, 1989).
- Bryant, John and Chris Sangwin. How Round is Your Circle? Where Engineering and Mathematics Meet (Princeton, 2008).
- Dourish, Paul. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction (MIT, 2004).
- Edgerton, David. The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900 (Oxford, 2006).
- Frauenfelder, Mark and Gareth Branwyn. The Best of MAKE (O'Reilly, 2007).
- Gershenfeld, Neil. Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication (Basic, 2007).
- Gordon, J. E. Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down (Da Capo, 2003).
- Gordon, J. E. The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don't Fall through the Floor (Princeton, 2006).
- Harper, Douglas. Working Knowledge: Skill and Community in a Small Shop (Chicago, 1987).
- Igoe, Tom. Making things Talk: Practical Methods for Connecting Physical Objects (Make Books, 2007).
- Ingold, Tim. The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill (Routledge, 2000).
- Marlow, Frank M. Machine Shop Essentials (Metal Arts, 2004).
- Martin, Joe. Tabletop Machining (Sherline, 1998).
- McDonough, William and Michael Braungart. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things (North Point, 2002).
- Molotch, Harvey. Where Stuff Comes From: How Toasters, Toilets, Cars, Computers and Many Other Things Come to Be As They Are (Routledge, 2005).
- Mims, Forrest M., III. Electronic Sensor Circuits and Projects (Master Publishing, 2004).
- Mims, Forrest M., III. Science and Communication Circuits and Projects (Master Publishing, 2004).
- Napier, John. Hands (Princeton, 1993).
- Oberg, Erik, et al. Machinery's Handbook, 28th ed. (Industrial Press, 2008).
- O'Sullivan, Dan and Tom Igoe. Physical Computing: Sensing and Controlling the Physical World with Computers (Thomson, 2004).
- Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge (Chicago, 1974).
- Powell, John. The Survival of the Fitter (Practical Action, 1995).
- Pye, David. The Nature and Art of Workmanship (A&C Black, 2008).
- Rathje, William and Cullen Murphy. Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage (University of Arizona, 2001).
- Schon, Donald A. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action (Basic, 1984).
- Sennett, Richard. The Craftsman (Yale, 2008).
- Slade, Giles. Made to Break: Technology and Obsolescence in America (Harvard, 2007).
- Sterling, Bruce. Shaping Things (MIT, 2005).
- Suchman, Lucy. Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Action (Cambridge, 2006).
- Thackara, John. In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World (MIT, 2006).
- Thompson, Rob. Manufacturing Processes for Design Professionals (Thames & Hudson, 2007).
- Woodbury, Robert S. Studies in the History of Machine Tools (MIT, 1973).
Tags: bricolage | critical technical practice | DIY | fabrication | humanism
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William J Turkel - 12/10/2008
R.J., thanks for the link to your wonderful essay. Mandatory reading for pragmatists!
R.J. O’Hara - 12/10/2008
What a fascinating list of readings, now bookmarked. For some tangentially related thoughts on manu-facture and its role in liberal education (to counter what's been called "the extinction of experience"), readers might enjoy my post "Every college a farm, every college a manufactory."
Jonathan Dresner - 12/9/2008
I was quite unsure what this was about, or how it related to history until I went to Digital History Hacks and looked at the post preceding this one, which explicitly talks about the historic and historical place of home-based fabrication technology. I'd highly recommend that people read that first.
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