Monday, March 28, 2016

The Death of Craft



I was born at the very end of the craft era.
If video killed the radio star, then robots and automation killed craft.

The death of craft is not all bad; our bread is purer, and less likely to have rat hairs and rocks in it. Our food and clothes are cheaper and more plentiful than they have ever been. Glass bottles and tools are so cheap as to be treated as disposable items. Our cars are not only safer, they are also more reliable.

What was once treated as luxury is now seen as the minimal and the expected. While more finished goods end up in the trash when broken, there is also less waste than there used to be on the manufacturing end, and more recycling on the back end.

But is the death of craft a loss?  Yes it is.  Across the board, too many folks today do things in a half-assed and slipshod fashion. If everything is disposable, why spend too much time or money getting it right? 

2 comments:

Noel said...

I'm not far from you in age, yet I disagree on this one. In any era there's people who settle for the half-assed fix, the cheap price, the duct tape repair, the weak and flimsy "handmade" solution. In my childhood in the 1970's I remember things breaking that never should, and crappy plastic everything with manufacturer's warranties that were a joke. Certainly more things involved human labor, but the humans were merely LABOR - not craftsmen. And in the craftsman era, most of what was made was cheap crap for poor people - but we don't know about it because it didn't survive, because it was cheap crap. The rise of truly accessible, relatively cheap technology coupled with the vast resources of the internet has ushered in an era of creativity and "craft" that the human race has never seen before. Certainly blacksmiths have been replaced with home shop machinists, and bodgers with woodworkers wielding CNC machines in their garages...but the output? Awesome stuff, by people who love the process and continue to expand the knowledge base and the craft. It's a great time to be alive, and we've lost very little. The next 100 years will largely be about eliminating waste (and petroleum!), and expanding the safety and comfort of the human race.
And hopefully reducing the human population, but the jury's still waaay out on that one.

jeffrey thurston said...

It's funny- I have a friend who has a business replicating WW2 flight jackets. He is super focused on getting every nuance of every different company that made leather flight jackets in the 30s and 40s. His problem is replicating by craft the industrial, high quality clothing industry of that era. Just as craft may be disappearing so is the great American industrial art. The quality and perfection of the jackets made back then is in a world of it's own...