Monday, April 19, 2010

Makers vs. Users

Making Monday

Sometimes, it's easier to define something in terms of what it is not. In the case of makers, they stand in opposition to users.

Where makers believe that, at some level, a thing has intrinsic worth and thus a right to exist apart from all other things, users believe that things have a right to exist only as a means to an end.

What does that mean?

Here's a simple example: many of the settlers of European descent coming into the western part of North America declared vast portions to be "wastelands" because they couldn't be used for agriculture.

Now, to be clear, in an absolute sense we are all users. At meal time, we generally don't concern ourselves about the rights of the animals and vegetables we consume to exist independently because they have become a means to the end of our own existence.

The difference I'm trying to get at is, at one level, a relative one, but at another it's deeply significant: for the users, nothing is sacred. The contrast is illustrated in the (perhaps apocryphal) story that the Indian hunter would apologize for killing the deer, thanking it for what he needed to feed his family while the buffalo hunters simply slaughtered the animals because they were a nuisance.

Users see the value in a thing as long as it serves their purposes.

Makers, like parents bringing a child into the world, look forward to the day when the thing they created takes on a life of its own.

 Image: Bill Longshaw /