Monday, January 31, 2011

Law 1: Love is Precious

Making Monday

Sometimes popular culture colors a word. For example, gay was once simply a synonym for happy. So it is with some reluctance that I finish our deeper explorations of the First Law of Making with the observation that the love of the makers is precious.

Gollum, from Wikipedia
It's a tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson, and Andy Serkis that saying, "precious," with a nasal tone now conjures an immediate association with our friend on the right.

And like our driven friend from Middle Earth, there's an undeniably obsessive element in any kind of deep love. For makers, that element is better characterized as fascination.

The word, "precious," is also used as a mild pejorative for people who are too wrapped up in themselves. In this sense, "precious," is a user value.

The love of the makers is precious in the older sense of value. When the world was far less affluent, something that commanded a great price was given special attention because it was so rare. Now we have gadgets over which our ancestors would have marveled that we casually discard when a new model is available.

For makers, both the things being made and the process of making are precious.

The Subject is Precious

There's the old saw that, "if a job is worth doing, it's worth doing well." Unlike users, who see things only as means to an end, makers honor the value of the made thing as an end in and of itself. The value of the work creates a kind of obligation to see it through to completion. This is not to say that makers never abandon projects, but that they feel responsible for the thing being made.

The Process is Precious

Another basic but subtle truth, often ignored in a climate where productivity and growth are the greatest goods, is that how you do something is as important as what you do. The Shakers saw work and worship as aspects of the same thing, and captured the idea in their motto, "Hand to work and hearts to God." Makers understand that sentiment.


Image: Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net