Mark Frauenfelder — DIY expert

By Josh

Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make magazine, the leading publication of the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement, and founder of the popular Boing Boing blog, wrote the Introduction to UNBORED. He’s one of the coolest people I know; I’m so pleased that he wrote our Introduction!

Mark is author, most recently, of the book Made By Hand: My Adventures in the World of Do-It-Yourself, in which he describes how he spent a year trying a variety of projects such as keeping chickens and bees, tricking out his espresso machine, whittling wooden spoons, making guitars out of cigar boxes, and doing citizen science with his two daughters in the garage.

Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s UNBORED Introduction:

A few years ago I came across a World War II-era poster that showed a woman sewing a man’s torn trousers while he repaired a lawn mower. The poster encourages people to be thrifty; its slogan is, “USE IT UP — WEAR IT OUT — MAKE IT DO!” This message made sense during wartime shortages, and — despite the best efforts of corporate America to convince you that yesterday’s shiny thing is no longer any good (and that today’s shiny thing is essential), it still makes sense. Ever since I saw that poster, whenever I get the urge to pull out my wallet, or enter my credit card number on a website, I’ve asked myself, “Instead of buying something, can I make something — or modify, repair, or reuse what I already have?” Often, the answer is: “Yes.”

Not only does asking yourself this question help you save money, it helps you have fun. Actively contributing to the human-made world is an incredible consciousness expander — it will make you more observant, creative, and resourceful.

Say, for instance, that you want to buy a new computer game. Instead of heading to your computer to order one, ask yourself, “Can I make something — or modify, repair, or reuse what I already have?” Like thousands of other kids have, you might download the free educational programming language Scratch (scratch.mit.edu), and program your own games. You might discover that creating games is at least as fun, and maybe more fun than playing commercial computer games; at the very least, you will gain inside knowledge about how computer games work. Even if programming doesn’t turn out to be your thing, you’ll learn that about yourself — and you’ll appreciate commercial computer games in an entirely new way.

We liked the lesson that Mark took from the WWII poster, so our Art Director, Tony, found an image of the poster in the Library of Congress’s database and asked Heather Kasunick, one of the two main illustrators of UNBORED, to draw a version of it for the book. Here is Heather’s drawing:

PS: Mark and his 9-year-old daughter Jane co-host the podcast “Apps for Kids.”