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Friday, March 1, 2013

Down the Rabbit Hole with Sketchbook and Camera

I started this post more than 2 years ago, and put it aside after I stalled out in the writing. Then a few weeks later I had back surgery with a couple of months of recovery during which I forgot all about this post. I've patched it up a bit, but it's far from finished. I'd like to get back to it some day, but I don't know when that might be, and in the meantime I'd like to see other people thinking about some of these issues. So here it is; make of it what you will.
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Every once in a while I discover an interesting question that I want to answer (or attempt to answer, at any rate; some of these questions have been hanging around for thousands of years, so it's unlikely that I'm going to figure out anything definitive about them), and in reading or otherwise researching the question I discover other interesting questions, and the subject ramifies into what would be a dissertation if I were in graduate school.  Not too long ago this happened again.  Reading a book that had been on my "to read" list for almost 15 years, I started thinking about some issues that I've been thinking about on and off for most of my professional career.

The book was "Abstracting Craft" by Malcolm McCollough (see the references after the fold for a link).  It argues for a notion of digital craft (such as for computer-based architectural design, or product design)  based on  manual skill similar to the skills of a potter or a draftsperson.  This notion tickles an old interest of mine in just what a tool is, and how we humans form such tight linkages with our tools that we seem to somehow include them directly into our thinking and acting.  It also brought up some ideas for an SF story I've been thinking of writing.

Read on to follow me down the rabbit hole.