Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why DIY? - Part 4 - Education

Things are little slow right now on the tinkering front. So during this period of downtime I'm going to spend the next few posts exploring the "whys" and the "what fors" of tinkering around.

I enjoy a good mind bender. Anything that challenges me and forces me to put my brain into overdrive. I'll even spend a great deal more time than I probably should on such things and even if I get nowhere I'll still feel like I accomplished something. And this is because during these times I'm researching and educating myself on the subject. Sometimes picking up a few tangential bits of knowledge as I go that I hadn't intended on discovering.

As a tinkerer I'm often up against such challenges. Most, if not all, projects I take on I have no previous knowledge or experience and I need to train and educate myself on how to succeed at the task. And being a bit of a perfectionist too I'll spend a lot of time upfront researching how others have done it and the things they learned through the process. Much of this research is just to see what I'm up against and exactly how much work I'm setting myself up for. But at the same time I'm slowly building up enough knowledge to feel like I can take it on and feel like I know what I'm doing, even if I'm not an expert.

My favorite thing about college was learning. In fact, the greatest thing I learned in college was learning how much I don't know. It seemed that the more I discovered, the more I studied, the more my eyes were opened to the vast amounts of knowledge still out there for the learning. Tinkering and taking on DIY projects gives me the opportunity to once again tap into some of that knowledge. To continue to further my education even if it's not in a formal manner. These hands-on labs can teach us more than just studying a book. The book knowledge can give us a starting point, but trying things out for ourselves really drives the lesson home. Even mistakes can be good teachers too. Nothing can teach us more about the need of resisters in a circuit than plugging a 3V LED directly into a 9V battery and watching it burn out in a blaze of glory.

Part 1 - Fun!
Part 2 - Economics
Part 3 - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Part 5 - Making Connections


  1. So...a summation could be that it's at least partly the joy of pyrotechnics.

  2. Letting the "magic smoke" out of electronics is usually a great source of frustration. But (when proper safety is followed), yes, there is some enjoyment.

    I don't think you were too happy with me when I scorched an outlet while tinkering with touching wires to a live nightlight...just to see what happens. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. And as scary (and stupid) as that was, I do enjoy telling that story.