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DIY Projects, Communities and Cultures

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the hacking-has-many-flavors dept.

Hardware Hacking 53

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University share the results of a year-long survey studying DIY projects, communities, and cultures. The first ever large-scale survey of six DIY communities (Instructables, Etsy, Dorkbot, Ravelry, Adafruit and Craftster) explores the motivations and practices of 2600+ respondents. In addition to an academic paper, results are appropriately posted on Instructables — one of the studied DIY sites. Findings highlight creativity, learning and open sharing as key values embedded in modern DIY culture."

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Heh 2600 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179784)


Re:Heh 2600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180788)

Not sure if they surveyed 2600 intentially or on purpose but yay for inside posts. Shoehornjob

Re:Heh 2600 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182860)

Even before scrolling down to the comments, that's what I thought :) BBS FTW!

xkcd joke time (3, Funny)

Octopuscabbage (1932234) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179922)

Oh so now i know what xkcd's circut diagram is for. (xkcd.com/730/) It was used for collecting the data for this!

LA missle launch? (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180034)

Perhaps the recent unexplained "missle launch" off of LA is a DYI project?

Instructables is open? (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180078)

"To Download the PDF or View All Steps,
Become a Pro Member"

Need I say more?

Re:Instructables is open? (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180136)

Those of us whom use adblock on FF probably don't even realize they have ads, which is why they they have pro-members etc.
By view all steps, they mean view all steps on one page instead of the classic online magazine click for a new page of ads for each sentence.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180670)

By view all steps, they mean view all steps on one page instead of the classic online magazine click for a new page of ads for each sentence.

Quite often, though, there are several pics of [whatever] that are only available to subscribers. [Whatever] can be built via free, but pay and you get extra pics.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181942)

The extra pics are available via the free membership.

I've never seen* pics that were available for pro members only.

Pro just gives you no ads and PDFs. Handy but not exactly necessary.

*Yes, I noticed it. If you didn't, good. Leave me alone.

Re:Instructables is open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180344)

The last page of the set has a link to the paper and the slides.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180526)

Only because the author was kind enough to host them on his own server.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180622)

for someone who can not fill in a login form you sure are knowledgeable

Re:Instructables is open? (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#34183036)

for someone who refuses to fill in a login form you sure are knowledgeable

Fixed. Just because you're capable of something, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it just because someone else demands it of you.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180614)

um yea it has not changed 1 bit if you just use your free login, pro memberships get bonus features

so please dont say any more, until you at least put some effort into it

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180828)

Yes, it has changed. You were always able to get the PDFs for free. Now you can't. If you want a printer friendly instructable, you have to pay. That's not what a lot of people signed up for when they gave Instructables free content.

Re:Instructables is open? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180982)

I signed up for instructables well before the pro program, I never saw a guarantee of PDF file in the TOS

Re:Instructables is open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34181150)

I never saw a guarantee of PDF file in the TOS

You also never saw a guarantee that they wouldn't come over to your house and kick you in the nads*.
Just because something isn't explicitly stated doesn't mean that there isn't a reasonable expectation for a certain behavior.

(*Yeah, I realize kicking you in the nads would be prohibited by law. Substitute "calling you an ass"/"insulting your mother"/other antisocial but legal behavior, if you're going to get pedantic.)

Re:Instructables is open? (3, Informative)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180862)

"View All Steps" is misleading. It's just the option to display all the steps on a single page. You can still click through each individual step. This may be because I joined way back when, but I was always able, as just a regular registered user, to "View All Steps" and download PDFs.

Instructables also rewards anyone who has their Instructable Featured with a 3 month Pro membership. If you want to, you can even transfer this to someone else as a gift.

Re:Instructables is open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180988)

Apologies, I see by your other posts that you probably already know this.

Instructables comments (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180086)

I found the results odd w/ respect to instructables and comments. I like instructables articles, but I actively avoid reading the comments because they are stuffed with morons.

Generally a couple kids asking for homework help, a bunch of negative trollers whining about safety or how the author is ignorant (worship me for I am fire marshal bill and someone with a room temperature IQ could be hurt, and also you are completely wrong in all your conclusions because I say so! Look at me! Look at me!), or utterly illiterate "mee 2 I agre w u" text talk that is still meaningless when converted to English.

Another thing I've noticed about instructables is I've gotten all kinds of ideas from making what amounts to homemade water park sprayers for the kids out of PVC pipe to a tasty sandwich made out of apples, cheddar, bacon, and sourdough bread. But real hard core stuff, things that takes more than a day and real work and skill, is never discussed. The guys whom make their own legal limit ham radio linear amps. Theres like two articles on electric car/bike conversions, but there should be more. It tends to be a site of talkers rather than doers.

Surprisingly community interaction did better than I'd have expected and no one mentioned the comment trolling team at instructables being a good reason not to upload and share.

Re:Instructables comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180242)

i agre w u sew mch

p.s. - yur momz a aple sammich

Re:Instructables comments (2, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180600)

I laughed, but a more "instructables" style comment would be:

I can't believe you posted this to slashdot, don't you know that flaming makes people sad, I am an expert on this topic and it stuns me that slashdot would allow this post to appear without editorial filtering to prevent horrific emotional scarring. Oh, did I mention already that I'm an expert on this topic? Well just to make sure, yes, yes I am. This very important safety notice should be added to the article, Think Of The Children. You can quote me, vlm on that. Yup, quote vlm the expert.

Re:Instructables comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180786)

LOL. That was my first thought. Attack their argument, reasoning, their ability to RTFA, and if that doesn't work then beat them up on grammar or spelling. Or if you have mod points, then mark the post you don't agree with as Flame Bait. This is what Slashdot has become.

If you build it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34185150)

They will come.. and whine about you not doing it properly.

Talking vs doing (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180228)

embedded in modern DIY culture.

One minor correction is those sites are mostly about talking vs doing with respect to DIY.

Much like listening to Leo Laporte on This Week in Tech gives you a pretty good insight into the culture of tech journalism, but make no mistake those guys are not reflective of tech culture itself.

Actual do-ers don't sound nearly as good on the radio nor read nearly as well on a website.

The culture of the local newspaper's business section newsroom, is not necessarily an accurate reflection of the actual business culture they are discussing.

Re:Talking vs doing (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181194)

For sure, to some extent.

I make a lot of different projects, from computer and microcontroller based down to discrete transistor and vacuum tube stuff. I like fixing radios and similar old tube things also.

But between work and sleep, I only find the time to put up 1% of them on my site. I've got a horrible problem with half finishing things as it is.

That said, things like instructables never really appealed to me. I'd rather throw a quick blurb about my latest device on a related forum, and if someone wants to build it i can help em out.. give em schematic, source, etc.. less teaching more doing I suppose. Seems rather a waste writing directions that very well may never be used. I think it probably attracts incompetent folk to starting on fail projects also. I don't know.

Could be that I'm just horribly unorganized and rarely complete things in a linear fashion though, which makes it difficult to document them.

Truly Nerdy Fun-Oriented DIY Website (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180244)

Arcade Controls [arcadecontrols.com]. Don't let the front page give you a bad impression, the interesting parts are in the forums [arcadecontrols.com].

Re:Truly Nerdy Fun-Oriented DIY Website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180410)

The page you linked to didn't actually manage to redirect for me. For anyone else interested and having the same issue, go here [arcadecontrols.com]

Meh (2, Informative)

stokessd (89903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180552)

First the survey of DIY is very limited. It is a robots and computer hackery biased. There's a ton of very vibrant DIY sites out there, Take for example DIYAudio.com, that place has hundreds or thousands of posts per day. And there are industry giants contributing.

There's a ton of restoration sites like OWWM.com (Old Wood Working Machines, but also does metalworking machines). Along the lines of the CMU computer geekery is places like CNCZone.com. Then there's the more web1.0 sorts of places like the bicycle frambuilders list (http://www.phred.org/mailman/listinfo/framebuilders). DIY is very vibrant on the interwebs and there's a whole lot more of it going on than this survey takes into account.

Also Instructables is pretty weak. Instructables is to DIY as McDonalds is to fine dining.


Re:Meh (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180830)

How does ravelry (a fibre community (i.e. knitters and crochet-ers)), etsy (sells homemade/vintage objects) and craftster (a general crafting communinity) got anything to do with robots and computer hackery?

I think you are forgetting the female half of the population - we (yes a girl is on \.) tend to frequent sites such as ravelry, etsy and crafster in HUGE numbers, not rather specific interest sites such as "old wood working machines" or "bicycle frame builders". Sure, ravelry might just be fibre on the surface, but have a closer look at the groups - nearly every interest is catered for (in all seriousness, the forum/database system on ravelry is brilliant, definitely worth it to register just to have a look). And etsy and crafster have something about nearly every conceivable craft.

And industry giants contributing - now that just goes against their definition of DIY: "creation, modification or repair of objects without the aid of paid professionals.".

Re:Meh (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181336)

>implying there are females on the internet

Joking aside, my girlfriend mentioned etsy a few times. I think she got someone to knit her a scarf on there, and was showing me some pretty neat woodwork as well. Seems kinda neat.

Although when I think about DIY, it involves a soldering iron generally ;-)

Wrong. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181634)

""creation, modification or repair of objects without the aid of paid professionals.""

That;s the stupidest definition of DIY I have every read, and simple not true.

For example, I may be building a specific audio board, and a professional may suggest a specific component to use based on their engineering experience. Someone who is a professional machinist might give me advice on how to machine a part, or a welder on how to weld different metals together.

Why you think everyone needs to rebuild the wheel to make a different car is beyond me.

Re:Wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34182016)

""creation, modification or repair of objects without the aid of paid professionals."" - definition from the article (taken from wiki)

Re:Meh (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34182098)

I should have known you are woman, considering your previous posts here on slashdot with that account.

Re:Meh (1)

aquila.solo (1231830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34193126)

ravelry (a fibre community...

Sweet! Do you guys go for single-mode, or multi-mode?

(i.e. knitters and crochet-ers))

Oh. Nevermind, then.

Re:Meh (1)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34183274)

Hack-a-day is a good one for me. They aggregate projects scattered all over the net, often times with schematics, demonstration videos, and parts references. While not all projects are DIY--literally, what some of these techs come up with is truly stunning. Favorite topic: Arduino boards.

DIY Science (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180674)

Rather than just tech, glueing things that already exist together, Hobby real science is also done and out there. I have a site, and so do many others. My site's in my sig, another for fusion is


And many of the members of both also have their own sites where real science is done in collaberation with others, many of whom don't know real names and will probably never meet face to face. It's not all "big science". With open source methodology, we can do the same things for science that have been done for software -- teams, but by agreement, and far more flexible and faster.

So hose me for slashvertising -- none of us are selling anything whatever except a chance to play the game with us -- it's not free -- you have to do your share to be interesting.

"Modern DIY Community" not quite what I expected (1)

primerib (1827024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180774)

In my experience, Instructables is much more of a Craft site than a DIY or hardhack community. By and large the content and the community were geared towards sharing cheap, 5 minute jury rigs of the type you would see in a Home & Garden magazine. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Crafts and around the house tips are bad (they're great) but in no way would I associate the community with the statement "Findings highlight creativity, learning and open sharing as key values embedded in modern DIY culture".

Maybe I have a different idea of hardhacks and DIY, but when I'm looking for DIY info it's usually of the "tips for replacing my doorframe", "resources for circuit board etching" or "homemade agar solution recipes" variety.

And now an analogy: Martha Stewart provides tips on putting up plastic over windows to keep cold air out; Ask This Old House provides info on the tools and procedures one would need to replace that window with a new double-paned, insulated window. They're both awesome pieces of information, but only one (imo) represents a facet of the "modern DIY culture".

Re:"Modern DIY Community" not quite what I expecte (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181680)

Instructables has a lot of good DIY projects. How to build a hidden door book case, how to build a solar heater out of soda pop cans, all kinds of stuff.

Re:"Modern DIY Community" not quite what I expecte (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34181992)

How to build a freaking pimp kayak.

Some of the instructables are of seriously high quality. Most are not, but there are some absolute gems in there. A lot of it is great just for neat ideas. Like an arduino based RFID door lock or an automated home garden. You aren't going to be building it step by step from their design, but you can use them as a good jumping point, and it's easy to find a very wide range of projects on these sites.

RE: Obama's War Against US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34183344)

Following Barak Hussain Obama's deceleration of the right to kill any living human being for his enjoyment, his Presidential Order covers his Agencies in the Federal Govenment who ack in his place.

When agents of the FBI accost you at an international airport ... be cool. Say nothing.

rensheng (1)

winli (1937752) | more than 3 years ago | (#34183596)

Fan Chung-yen said, not pleased, not to have compassion. [url=http://www.uggsbootssole.com/ugg-and-jimmy-choo.html]ugg boots and jimmy choo[/url]Chinese society from the Song to 2000, is now fast, I dare not say all of China not as ancient, but at least we have to learn self-cultivation of Fan Tao,[url=http://www.uggsbootssole.com/ugg-and-jimmy-choo.html]ugg boots casual[/url] Dankan win or lose, live happily, or someday you for China which teams they lost to weak teams in Asia and the terminal one of a branch, [url=http://www.uggsbootssole.com/ugg-and-jimmy-choo.html]ugg boots ebay[/url]who would give you the Medal of it?

DIY an old tradition (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184812)

Which has been up-and-down for years.

Wheeler's _Woodworking for Beginners_ complains that boys are too likely to buy things which their fathers would've made --- and this was published in 1899 or so.

I took up archery again a couple of years ago, making my own tackle --- started w/ bows, then strings, made a case for a takedown, working on arrows, points and nocks, and just sorted out my leatherworking tools, so gloves, armguard and quiver are next.

One thing I've found striking is the number of people who turn to the 'net forums for basic questions of technique which would've been covered in year one of shop class, or in any basic text, and who jump in w/o first studying some basic overview text even when such are readily available in a library, or public domain and on-line.


is the term 'DIY' overloaded (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34184962)

I think DIY has become the 'organic' of this decade, a term overused. Now people call it DIY if you do anything remotely clever. "DIY bagel heating using a toaster!".

And there are the "more DIY than thou" arguments. One person chided me that using PCB fabricators wasn't DIY because I didn't swirl my own templates in an acid bath (at satellite diaries [science20.com])... I had to point out I was making a DIY satellite, not a DIY PCB. Besides, I asked him if he'd actually smelted the copper ore for his boards, because if not, you know, it's not really DIY.

That said, I love the DIY movement. It's as if Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin had a (legal) lovechildmovementlaunch.

(And that last word is DIY, I made it myself!)

Make Magazine? (2, Informative)

don_carnage (145494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34185568)

There are plenty of excellent DIY sites out there. I have a couple of projects featured on Instructables [instructables.com] -- their interface makes is really easy to share your projects step-by-step.

Strange that Make Magazine [makezine.com] is missing. Or Hack-A-Day [hackaday.com].

While on the subject... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34186002)

The ultimate of DIY has to be openfarmtech with their global village construction set aiming to produce a range of equipment, all cheap, easily maintainable open sourced, from tractors to metal melting to solar power generators. Everything you need for food production to fabrication basicly.

And they are well on their way too!

Cool stuff =)

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