The Joy of Invention for All

The Joy of Invention for All

July 19, 2007 Blog

We are living in an age of far-out inventions coming not from the military and huge corporations, but out of people's backyards. People always have made things on their own — tinkerers, small scale inventors. But after all that's how some of the world's most successful innovations and products have come to market. Even Steve Jobs used his parents' garage to launch the original Mac. The difference today is the role that the Web plays to spread what people are making and sharing.


Inventions and Behaviours


Today there are many social innovations that are not material objects, and instead are new ways to do things or even new behaviours and skills. DIY (do-it-yourself) in general has caught on in a big way especially out on the Web — because it appeals to something liberating inside everyone, perhaps.


Making something for oneself is also becoming a new form of hipness, a cool new behaviour that is overcoming the relative passivity of consumerism and mass production. So, be careful when you unveil your next acquisition or possession at a party — you may be asked, as a matter of fact, whether or not you made it. Making anything with one's own hands is becoming more respected.


It is a reassuring observation to make: resourcefulness and creativity are fast becoming new "memes" (as opposed to the past when buying things for status could seem natural). This also applies to using what one already has in novel, smart ways. Consumerism is sliding (especially during economic downturns) and meanwhile some kind of make-it-yourself-ism, if you like, may be taking hold at least in common thinking and behaviour.


For example, the fact that many things have been transplanted to the Web from older media opens up a huge opportunity for people to mix a broader spectrum of content into their lives, by ways not possible in the past. In some cases, this has become a way to save money (since much Web content is free). In other cases people have decided that the online route delivers more choices, the power to filter — and more value whenever a bit of money is involved.


Taking the Bull's Horns


As we said, a new standard of resourcefulness is rising, and for many reasons including feeling fed up with mass consumerism, dissatisfaction with available mass-produced products, decreased budgets for entertainment and household expenses — perhaps even a social and political stance towards waste, pollution and so on. But becoming a very crafty person may not happen overnight for most folks. Fortunately a middle ground is emerging.


Before a normal person, let's say, follows their old habits of just going out to purchase something impulsively — leading to wasting time and money in the long run if a bad product is selected — nowadays one can use the mobile Web to check and compare items before getting washed down another sales pipe. More and more people are realising how important each and every purchase they make is, across a host of common public concerns.


Furthermore, going beyond just using the Web to make the smartest buy, people are turning a smartphone or tablet into a penny university and learning new ways to solve material problems — including DIY, but also simple communication and advice, or even eliminating certain cumbersome activities that can be done better with online tools. Those include hobbies and entertainment as well as serious tasks.


After all, there are big, but hidden, amounts of energy that are wasted when doing things the old ways (involving unthinkingly driving to a venue, spending money there and generating trash, polluting at every step of the way — all unnecessarily!). The hidden costs of almost everything we do are getting exposed every day, more and more. The Web, of course, is a great help to people sharing this and learning from others.


Let's take a very popular online phenomenon like Bingo, in which players no longer need to haul themselves to a bingo hall each time they play since they can enjoy numerous Web-based versions that do not waste paper or require thick markers for daubing one's cards. Some people have even chucked their expensive vacations to Vegas, using that cash for better ends, and felt more than satisfied by the advanced online casinos available today (which they checked out first on a trustworthy guide site with reviews like

When we look closer, we can each find inventive ways to do things better, with less waste, as well as free up time for enjoying the new benefits of doing things for ourselves. With most people catching the bug of self-sufficiency at some level, the chances are higher than ever that anybody could come up with something valuable to share with the world — regardless of whether it goes up as a simple DIY diagram or it becomes a national product.