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Is the Seeking of Lost Skills/Arts a Hacking Analog?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the hack-the-world-without-a-keyboard dept.

Education 814

bigattichouse asks: "Having just finished my first batch of home-brew beer, I've been thinking about my attraction to 'lost arts', and collecting books on 'how to do stuff'. Some I try, some I just read: metalsmithing, sewing, baking bread, making soap, knot tying, brewing beer, woodcarving, yogurt and cheese.. there are so many skills 'lost' in the modern 'american' lifestyle... but I find my fellows tend to have books on these subjects lying around, too. Is this common in geekdom? Is this an expression of 'hacking' outside of machinery/engineering?"

cancel ×


SCA! (5, Informative)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019704)

I think this guy's right. If you really want to see a bunch of nerds going crazy with esoteric endeavors, look no further than the Society for Creative Anachronism [] . They're pretty much the only people left in the world who make battle-quality chain mail, scale mail, and plate mail in the medieval style.

Re:SCA! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019738)

They're pretty much the only people left in the world who make battle-quality chain mail, scale mail, and plate mail in the medieval style.

Though a lot of people do make battle-ready spam mail. Unfortunately.

Re:SCA! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019744)

We are on watch lists with the FBI because of that also. They consider us a "paramilitary" training group even though the tactics we teach are not necessarily useful against modern weapons. It is a lot of fun though!
Stephan Von Ardenwald
Pirateship Beltis

They scare me... (1)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019791)

I see them in the park with padded clothing and nerf swords or something. What's so sad is it's usually three quarters men, and they look like they're fighting for the few nasty-looking women there.

Re:They scare me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019899)

That's LARPers - Live Action Role Playing.

SCA is real metal armor, full-on hard blows with solid rataan that would break bones or skulls without said armor, and a 50/50 proportion of male to female. IMO, the attractiveness of the participants is roughly equivalent to society at large.

The SCA is also about real history - not fantasy with elves, dragons, and magic.

Re:SCA! (-1, Flamebait)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019795)

I saw some of these fags in a video online...screaming about lightning bolt, lightning bolt.

What a bunch of fags.

Re:SCA! (-1, Flamebait)

MisterFancypants (615129) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019855)

Go ahead and mod me down, but it's true, these guys are total fags.

Re:SCA! (5, Insightful)

Xerithane (13482) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019896)

They're pretty much the only people left in the world who make battle-quality chain mail, scale mail, and plate mail in the medieval style.

Not to rain on the SCA parade, but the skills that these guys use isn't what we're talking about.

Metalsmithing, perhaps. Making "battle ready" chain mail is nothing more than time consuming, and I seriously doubt that any of them (I know of a few, one who makes most the mail in the area) actually know how to make the rings. They know how to put them together quickly.

Their swords are nothing in comparison to traditional Toledo steel (exclude The Factory, for those in the know.) or Japanese steel. It's really half-assed, industrialized-support endeavors. I've seen SCA steel, and it really isn't anything special.

The last thing that I want given the unlikely circumstance of needing to know how to do things like make soap, distil water, survive without modern devices, is SCA members running around.

I think the purpose of this ask Slashdot is not about people running around pretending their in a medieval bubble that is roughly supported by industrialization, but to just learn how worldly things work.

Geeks just want to learn (4, Insightful)

captain_craptacular (580116) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019706)

Thats why their geeks. The thirst for knowledge need not be contained in any one discipline. I know I personally hop from new hobby to new hobby and become bored with things once I feel I have enough skill.

Re:Geeks just want to learn (-1, Offtopic)

bohnsack (2301) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019767)

"That's why they're"...

Re:Geeks just want to learn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019892)

It kind of lessens his argument for learning when he has the spelling skills of a grade 5.

Re:Geeks just want to learn (4, Funny)

maxpublic (450413) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019787)

I thought geeks did these sorts of things because they couldn't get laid....


OpenSource your life! (5, Insightful)

Tirs (195467) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019824)

Well, I moved from a downtown appartment to a countryhouse a couple of years ago, and I began to feel the urge to start doing things like this: beer homebrewing, fruits and vegetables preserving, bread baking, furniture repairing/building, even some basic masonry. Then one day I was sitting by the fireplace (wood cut by myself), smoking a pipe (my own mix of tobacco), and meditating about my life, and this question came to my mind: Why?

After giving some thought to the issue, I think that the answer is quite simple: for the same reason why I go to FreshMeat to get the source code of the programs I use. I could download the binaries, but I don't; I prefer to go through the pain of ./configuring, making and make-installing, to say the least. In other words: I want to control the process of creation as much as possible. The same spirit of OpenSource which animates most geeks is present in each and every aspect of their lives, not only in computing.

Self-made-making and Open Source are all about the same: to keep control of our own lives.

Re:Geeks just want to learn (5, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019856)

Nail on the head. I have taken classes on carving stone, playing the Native American flute, and piano. I also dabble in water colors, writing, and am a licensed pilot. Next on the list is learning gardening and making a compost pile. After that I am leaning towards glass blowing and making my own hot sauce.

My theory is that geeks have more imagination than the average bear. They look at lines of programming but see not only the code, but also the manipulation of the screen. If you think about it, all a computer really is is a device for changing pixel colors on a screen. Geeks see how the pixels ought to look.

Its that same imagination that makes reading so popular within the geek community. They "see" what the words convey. That's also why SciFi and fantasy is so popular as well. Every piece of fiction written involves a choice by the author. For something like 90% of them, they choose to set their story in either the world we know or the world we knew. The remander toy with the setting. It is that, I think, which so appeals to the geeks. The boudries are no longer boudries.

The point of all this, then, is that geeks like to use their imaginations. What better way to do that than to try a variety of different hobbies each of which provides a different sort of stimulous and memory? In so doing it also allows the imagination to be that much more real when it comes to dealing with any of the skill sets involved in the hobby.

Soap? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019715)

making soap
Tyler Durden? Is that you?

Re:Soap? (4, Informative)

linuxwrangler (582055) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019798)

You know, the Simple Object Access Protocol?

Seriously, I remember helping my dad (an electrical engineer) making a batch of soap. Of course this involved many side tracks like measuring the temperature changes when the lye was added to the water and testing various ways to improve the purity of the fat.

In 5th grade a bunch of my class visited to learn how soap was made.

My dad stopped when he realized that he had enough to last the rest of his life (it is quite hard unlike store-bought and each bar lasts quite a while).

He still delivers a bag when he visits so it's the soap I still use as well.

Re:Soap? (1)

Pirogoeth (662083) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019846)

Got Soap [] ?

Who is Tyler Durden? NT (0)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019803)

nothing to see here

Re:Who is Tyler Durden? NT (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019833)

He is in the movie "Fight Club" and his profession is soap making.

actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019811)

...I think you're Tyler Durden.

Sewing? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019716)

Your friends have sewing books lying around? No, that's not part of the hacker lifestyle; it's part of the FAGGOT lifestyle. Faggot!

Wellll (5, Funny)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019717)

"Having just finished my first batch of home-brew beer, I've been thinking about my attraction to 'lost arts'

Drinking a skinful of beer will put these thoughts in your head. I usually solve all the worlds problems after a few. Can never seem to remember the solutions the next day though

Absolutely (5, Insightful)

ReconRich (64368) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019718)

I've been hacking over 30 years. I also brew beer, distill whisky, hunt, grow food, etc. These are definitely all the same expression: to know how things work.

-- Rich

Re:Absolutely (2, Interesting)

GC (19160) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019737)

I've been hacking over 30 years. I also brew beer, distill whisky, hunt, grow food, etc. These are definitely all the same expression: to know how things work.

Strange.. I have no such aspirations in other fields. I just like to work on systems and make them do cool stuff.

Re:Absolutely (1)

dpreformer (32338) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019792)

probably not a good idea to admit to distilling whiskey in the US, might get the revenuers after you.

One of the first federal taxes in the US was on distilled spirits. In fact the first post revolutionary war us of federal troops was to stop the "Whiskey Rebellion" caused by westerners opposed to the new tax.

The rebels mostly escaped into the hills of eastern kentucky and tennesee - nowadays they are called moonshiners.

Do the Foxfire books talk about making moonshine?

Re:Absolutely (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019894)

distilling whisky is illegal. But you probably knew that...

Re:Absolutely (2, Insightful)

ctar (211926) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019907)

I boil this down to the same exact thing...For some reason, I just want to know how things work! For me, this includes making my own beer, sake (now that I'm in Japan), bread, black and white photographs, computer and computer programs...Hmmm. Now that I think about it, it is just as much about self-reliance, and independence. This would cover a deep-seated desire to make my own food, energy, and even recycle my own shit. [] (I actually bought the dead-tree version of this book, and coincidentally was just reading it on the subway on my way to work).

I'm not sure where my interest in beekeeping comes from or what it covers, but I definitely consider this some type of hacking. Hacking nature?

I attribute my interest in politics and economics to the same thing: I just want to know how they work! For some reason I have this need to know how things work. Its the only reason I became interested in computers and computer networks, and probably the only reason I have a job, don't get bored with it, and continue to succeed at it.

I have a question (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019721)

What the fuck is this article babbling incessantly about? Cause I sure as fuck can't tell if I tried.

k5 (2, Interesting)

anderiv (176875) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019723)

Just read k5 [] .

They seem to have it figured out...

Join the Boy Scouts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019724)

They like to get back to the primative.

What, like a subject or something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019725)

Word...I am starting gardening. It's a wonderful artform, and useful too. If things keep going the way they are, the only food I will be able to get, or trust will be that which I grow myself.

oh wow (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019729)

Moron discovers 'hobbies' - film at 11, coming to
a slashdot near You!

Re:oh wow (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019766)


No, it's survival training (5, Funny)

IO ERROR (128968) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019730)

We're all preparing for Y2038.

no. i just use google (1) (562495) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019733)

for e.g. a google query might look something like this:
"how to fix a flat tire"
I dont need to buy books for this.

Re:no. i just use google (1)

GC (19160) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019781)

Have you tried searching for articles in say "Estonian" for your search example?

Those Estonians still need books, or should they learn English?

No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019736)

No, it's not.


Chain mail (0, Offtopic)

I don't want to spen (638810) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019739)

The advantage of chain mail is that its very difficult to spam.

Could be libertarian bent... (1)

Thinkit3 (671998) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019743)

The survivalism wing of libertarianism calls for a better understanding of basics like soap making.

Art has to be defined first. (1)

ATAMAH (578546) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019749)

Because for example in the modern world i would consider being 100% honest - an art. And i don't think this can be linked to hacking in any way.

Not Quite (0, Insightful)

moehoward (668736) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019750)

The skills are not lost. They are well documented. They are unnecessary. You sound like you are pining for the "good ole days". Give me a break.

"Lost" implies that they need to be "found" for some compelling reason. They have been supplanted with skills necessary for the modern world, such as computing, engineering, math, making $100 million movies, watching TV, surfing pr0n, and building space shuttles.

Really, though, chill out. Go out and pick up a six pack of Bud and some Dove. Nobody's first batch of home brew ever turns out good anyway.

Just remember where the Unabomber went with this line of thinking...

Re:Not Quite (2, Insightful)

John3 (85454) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019809)

The primary reason for the decline of homebrewing as a hobby is the wide availability of quality micro-brewed beers. When homebrewing as a hobby took off (late 1980's, early 1990's) it was tough to find good quality beer in most of the country. People brewed so they would not have to settle for Budweiser or (gack!) Coors.

Once every corner deli and bar started carrying Sam Adams and the beer distributor added Belgian Abbey and Grand Cru, why go through the trouble to brew it yourself? However, those that continue to brew it themselves are mostly geeks. :-)

Re:Not Quite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019832)

Yeah, math and engineering a "modern" skills. Nobody actually built things before about 1940, and nobody did math until about that time as well.

Oh wait...

Re:Not Quite (2, Insightful)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019850)

"Lost" implies that they need to be "found" for some compelling reason. They have been supplanted with skills necessary for the modern world, such as computing, engineering, math, making $100 million movies, watching TV, surfing pr0n, and building space shuttles.

The world needs historians as much as it needs rocket scientists and porn stars. These skills are documented because people are out there keeping the knowledge alive. He's not suggesting that everybody give up their modern conveniences and go back to the 19th century. It's just that the old school arts and crafts give you a connection to the world and the way things work that's all too missing from our pushbutton world.

As for your suggestion to grab a Bud instead of a homebrew- you might as well say don't bother with a homemade Thanksgiving turkey, go grab an Oscar Mayer Lunchable.

Re:Not Quite (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019869)

unnecessary maybe. but that doesn't mean the workmanship and ideas involved in a particular task aren't beautiful. For that reason alone they should be kept alive as tribute/homage/appreciation to man's ability to invent/create/adapt despite whatever his technological limitations may have been at the time.

When St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York was being redone a few years back, construction crews didn't know how to work the stones. All the modern technology and literature out there weren't able to figure out the clever way in which the original masons had put parts of the structure together. The solution (after I'm sure x number of consultants was hired) was to find some old men (80+) living in Scotland who had once done this type of work at the beginning of the 20th century. So skills do get lost and we've probably lost more than we'll ever know. Some of which was probably really quite clever.

Learning skills that are necessary for modern life is one thing, but learning skills because you appreciate the intelligence behind them is what tends to separate the inquisitive (i.e. geeks!) from the rest.

Why do you need to ask? (5, Funny)

KDan (90353) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019751)

Hacking is just like being the One. No one can tell you you're hacking, you just do it.


I thought I had it bad (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019753)

Niggers [] are eating each other.
Read it.

Re:I thought I had it bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019794)

How is that flamebait? It's about the lost art of cannibalism.

How About.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019754)

Slashdot staff taking some time out to seek the lost art of a decent Slashdot article?

Re:How About.. (2, Funny)

qwerty823 (126234) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019829)

or Taco learning the lost art of the Dupe Check!

Imagine. (0, Flamebait)

boulat (216724) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019755)

Imagine you lived in stone age - or simply there were no computers or power supply to run them?

All those people with MCSE/CCNA/etc and Computer Information Systems degrees.. end up being useless.. 'teh sucks' - nobodies. Unless of course they took Calculus and lot of other engineering courses and posess knowledge important to advance the technology forward, not just be a servant of the society, doing LAN administration or running UNIX - the kind of 'clerical' work in computers.
Wake up! ALl your nerds not doing anything!! you just learning simple things - unix administration? firewalls? geez you created the problem. You created the need for IT departments and for IPSecs and for so many things - because of you dumb packet kiddies we are stuck here today from 1980s not having a single advancement in computers except that those from 80's packed the transistors, expanded the amount of memory and simply 'improved' the technology.. But the real 'geeks' are the engineers, professors - those 'nerds' who are advancing the field through their research and experiments, while all those 'unix geek hax0r l33t bizniatchees y000' are nothing but computer operators.

Back to the topic : expand your horizons, folks!

Re:Imagine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019868)

While I disagree on the rest, I've often contemplated your first question.

If I was in the stone age, metal would obviously be a priority. How would I find it? How would I mine it? Would I die after inhaling noxious gases while melting/shaping it?

What would I build with it? A gun would be an obvious priority. OK, but now I need gunpowder. And heck, I even know the formula for it. Sulfur and carbon are easy enough to recognize, but how the hell would I find potassium nitrate?

Sounds like a premise "Worst Case Scenario: Time Travel to the Stone Age."

Re:Imagine. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019891)

Not sure how to respond to this, but fuck you comes to ming. Without people to be "nothing but computer operators", just who in the hell are your glorious engineers and professors designing this stuff for? You have way to much contempt for others. Did you design, engineer, and produce the car you drive? Didn't think so. Did you design, engineer, and produce the television you watch? Didn't think so, but I bet you do operate the remote.

Re:Imagine. (1)

fputs(shit, slashdot (645337) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019895)

If nobody did the clerical work in computers, nobody would have any use for advances made by your 'real nerds'. Imagine you lived in the stoneage and somebody told you to imagine you were a single cell ameoba, then starts ranting about how 'real nerds' are the people inventing the wheel and the axe. Nothing wrong with expanding your horizons but otherwise void argument.

Just the negineering mentality finding an outlet (5, Insightful)

mikerbob (107717) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019756)

Engineers love to tinker, find out how it all works, rip it apart and put it back together. Whether it's mechanical, chemical, or physical we want to understand. The only expression of the Renaissance Man left...

Definitely! (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019757)

Isn't it obvious? Hacking is an expression of our inner need. And the inner need we are expressing is for Knowledge, pure and simple. The people who hack, today, are the people who would have been working on their cars 30 years ago. :)

Re:Definitely! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019887)

Yes, I repair and hack my car. I brew my own beer. I would make my own wine if I could get decent grapes. I do canning when the season is right (damn, I just missed the cheap Mexican mangoes!). I have become a garden fanatic since I got my house (as gardens are just as complicated and challenging as many of the more obviously techie things).

Its all about keeping the brain busy, the challenge of something new, and the satisfaction of a job well done.

Go figure.

Re:Definitely! (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019898)

Spoken like a true geek virgin. My inner need is for something a lot more tangible, soft, feminine and preferably with large breasts.

A batch of Irish Ale (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019758)

I have a batch of Irish Ale in the carboy right now. A couple of nights ago I built my own force carbonator, pet bottles, some brass fittings and
a bicycle emergency CO2 inflator. Now sure I could have went out and bought the stuff to force carbonate my beer, but what kind of hack value is in that. True hackers hack everything not just code. Now back to my java project....

Re:A batch of Irish Ale (1)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019841)

Now back to my java project....
Doing something with coffee too?!!!!!!!!

Dude you are the ubergeek!

hacking life style (5, Interesting) (664381) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019760)

Yes I would consider that part of the hacking life style . Trying to understand everything around you , maybe even doing it your self is part of the "life style" . Most hackers I know (traditional use) are very keen with not only computers and electronics , but chemistry (read explosives) , metalworking , and a few are interested in nature (they even go out while the "day star" is still outside). The hacking life style is really one about knowledge and understanding so any activity/tool (reasonable priced of course) you can expect a hacker to have at least a passing interest in (and some times more so than one) . That being said , is this worthy of a slashdot article?

Gay (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019763)

Just gay

same for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019764)

I can't stand not to know how to do something, AC breaks in car, buy a book and some tools. So far I've done woodworking (mdf rules) pluming, drywall, sprinklers, tile. Welding is next...

Add Pinball to the list (5, Interesting)

John3 (85454) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019768)

Yes, I think you're on to something there. Not only do I brew beer, but we also sell homebrew supplies in my hardware store [] . My informal observations of the customers who shop for home brew supplies leads me to the conclusion that most hombrewers are geeks (That's a compliment!).

Getting back to my subject, I've also discovered that my passion for pinball [] (started at MIT in 1977) is shared with numerous folks on the net and around the world, and there is definitely a connection between the lost art of pinball (face it, pinball is dying, especially electromechanical machines) and geeks. [] I own an old Faces EM pinball machine [] myself which I've been restoring to it's former glory, in between brewing batches of homebrew and playing Asheron's Call. :-)

Most geeks are more steampunk than cyberpunk (5, Interesting)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019770)

Yeah, they like nice fancy new things, but they also like the old. The figuring out of where we've been, why a certain path of tech wasn't taken. I think it also has to, at least partly, deal with a want to escape. Most geeks are in front of tech that was unimaginable a few generations ago, and want to get away from it at times, clear the cobwebs and see something else.

Am I this way? Of course. I love blending the old and the new, the modern with the retro. Hell, my ideal computer case design would be something that would look like it belongs in a victorian parlor. Geeks love the anachronism, because if something from the past Just Works, why not use it?

Simply. Yes. (1)

knowledgepeacewi (523787) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019771)

Yes. The men I know wants to be able to build a society from scratch all by himself. The women I know tends to depend on someone else being around to help do this. individual::community

Jeeps! (1)

afreniere (611999) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019774)

I do believe I qualify as a geek (have been hacking around with computers and programming and linux for half my life - am 25) and I have just finished a 3-year-long complete frame-up rebuild on my big hobby, an early-80s Jeep CJ. Several of my geek friends are also Jeep Nuts. ("Jeep Nuts" can be parsed as an adjective phrase as well as a plural noun). Anyway I think the computer hacking and the automotive hacking both tie in to a deeper desire to explore and understand the observed phenomena that occur to us through our "senses" - simulation or not...


Jeep: Just Empty Every Pocket

Curiosity (2, Interesting)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019776)

Well, for me, it's curiosity that prods me in learning unrelated stuff.

I started learning how my car works because all that "moving stuff" is elegant and complex. It's the figuring out part that gives me satisfaction.

I will never do metalsmithing, but Maxwell's demon [] may be my next experiment. Too wierd to be missed!

"lost arts" and hacking (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019777)

There's a good explanation as to why I at least have books on all sorts of lost arts, as the story calls them: All the hobbies or skills mentioned are crafts. In other words, they require the mastery of various tools to accomplish a particular task. Sound familiar? The computer is potentially the ultimate tool, so what I'm doing when I'm hacking is improving my skill with a particular tool to get something done.

I'll also note here that at first I read the article as about Lost Arks and geekdom. What does Harrison Ford have to say about the relationship between those two things?

Lost art of... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019778)

...posting interesting articles.

Curiosity (5, Insightful)

luisdom (560067) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019780)

For me it is just an expression of curiosity. Of wanting to know "how does this thing work" or "how the hell do they make this".
Computers are (for me) the uber-want-to-know. They are just more complex than every other thing in your direct environment, so we are attracted to them (like a moth to a bulb, if you ask me).

um. (1)

toothfish (596936) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019782)

Baking [bread] hardly qualifies as an esoteric exercise-- as an ex-butcher and baker, I can testify that both of these activities are doing just fine, thanks. People will be eating bread, making cheese, and tying knots for a long time.

Granted, most of these things which are now done by machine will probably be confined to niche/specialty industries, but they'll definitely survive as long as people are willing to pay a premium for a quality product.

The organization that regulates Parma prosciutto, for instance, is still getting their knickers twisted [] over import regulations, which bespeaks a healthy industry to me.

time (0, Troll)

ramzak2k (596734) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019783)

this an expression of 'hacking' outside of machinery/engineering?"

Nope, this is an utter waste of time. There are so many other useful skills that you could learn with your precious time. Why learn stuff that you will never use ?

Re:time (1)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019875)

Many of the items on that list are hardly a waste of time. Take yogurt making, for example. Doesn't really take that long to do make, and you can save a pretty good amount of money doing so. Same thing goes with zymurgy, and you may like the end result even better. The rest are, by and large, hobbies. Things you do so you don't have a nervous breakdown at 40 and end up throwing yourself into the river. Everyone needs a break from "real life", otherwise, life will break them.

Yes, it's a lost skill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019784)

Because few will dare to venture unto yonder worlds []

Rambling thoughts about this... (4, Insightful)

TedTschopp (244839) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019788)

Tolkien thought that the further you got away from the earth and your ability to live off of it, the more and more you lost your ability to be a creative person. And the less magic you were able to see in the world.

It is a loss of this self suffency which is going to cause the greatest problems in our society. Just think of much of our food today is preprocessed or transported from someplace else.

What happens when the whole system breaks down. (When was the last time a complex system like the ones we have today didn't break down).

I think it's our mentatility to think about these problems becuase we get to think about them every day when it comes to computer systems.

I suspose I could ramble on about the philosophy and religious implications about subcreation and why good subcreators worry about this, but I think that the skills, determination, dedication, and ego that it takes to be a good programmer/sys admin/hacker are the same skills which cause us to worry about some of the more basic things in real life.

Ted Tschopp

Hacking is like.. (1)

neogeek (455804) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019789)

All forms of Art are open to subjective opinion. Geeks tend to think of how they setup and use there computer as artistic expression. It' only follows that we will try and hack beer and make our own. Yeah beer above 7% alcohol.

in the know... (0)

decepty (662114) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019790)

The essence of hacking is finding out how stuff works... It comes as no suprise that those things carry over to other aspects of life. But here comes the age old "chicken/egg" debate:
Does an interest in hacking come from an interest in how stuff works?
Does an interest in how stuff works come from an interest in hacking?
Meditate on that, suckers...

Absolutely (1)

zhrike (448699) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019797)

My goal is to be reasonably self-sufficient in the event that modern conveniences are lost. Far-fetched idea, but I definitely collect data, both in electronic and hard-copy form, as often as I can. So far the collection outweighs my reading by a lot, but it's there. It's also a humourous collection of information that I may never so much as glance at...but it's there. And much of it does interest me.

And yes, I realize the irony of collection digital forms of data in the event that conveniences (which I always assume means electricity among other least in easily accessible forms) are removed.

Thirst for knowledge (5, Insightful)

AndurilSBA (656422) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019799)

I guess you could consider it related to hacking if one considers hackers to be just people who "thirst for knowledge." I know I rarely sit in one discipline for long and I want to know everything about anything. I don't consider that being a hacker, or part of a "hacker" nature though...I'm just nosy.

a few "lost" arts come to mind (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019800)

  • furniture upholstering
  • typewriter repair
  • window sash repair
  • decorative art glass windows
  • decorative stone cutting

PETITION : Stop Censoring IndyMedia from Google (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019806)

No, but yes. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019815)

> Is this an expression of 'hacking' outside of machinery/engineering?"

Beer, cheese, and bread weren't discovered, they was invented - they're the application of centuries of basic research in chemistry and microbiology. Ditto for techniques on how to work metals (structural engineering, metallurgy), wood (mathematics, physics, kinesthetics), soap (chemistry), knot-tying (mathematics), and so on.

So to answer your question, "no". It's not an expression of "hacking" outside of machinery and engineering.

It is, however, as much an expression of "hacking" in the form of machinery and engineering as anything you'll do with a computer.

The machine is the human body and whatever tools and raw materials you may have available. The engineering is the continual improvement of process and product. The hacking is the pleasure you take in using your mind to bending a set of input materials and physical laws to produce something aesthetically pleasing.

As for whether it's common in geekdom, I'd say "yes". If I say "here are some tools" and "here are some raw materials", and "I'll be back in an hour", and your first thought is what you can build in 59 minutes, you're a hacker.

What our parents didn't teach us. (2, Interesting)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019828)

In my case I find that I have a voracious curiosity for things my parents didn't bother to teach me, either because their parents didn't teach them, or society (or advertising) was telling them that no one needed those things anymore.

Just like many of us who weren't taught any social skills, we also weren't shown many of the other things that turned out to be very necessary in the real world.

My favorite two 'works of written art' when I was a child were the Encyclopaedia and How Things Work.

It's the opposite of a Hacking Analogy (3, Insightful)

davidgrouchy (661051) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019831)

That would be the guy that figured out the microwave signal he was working with could also warm his coffee. That is a classic hack. Non criminal, and using availiable materials in an unexpected way. What you're talking about is a return to traditions and historical culture. The very opposite of the convienence that usually comes with hacking. Brewing your own beer is doing it the hard way on purpose. Despite what benifits home brewing may do for your sence of accomplishment.

Everything you learn (4, Interesting)

teamhasnoi (554944) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019835)

applies to something else, somehow.

As a musician, I find that my aesthetic for music applies to many other things.

Less is More.
Know when to Stop.
Look like you know what you're doing, and occasionally you will.
Steal the good stuff.
Do it for yourself.

I could probably come up with a zillion more, but you get the idea. Boil it down to the important things in one area, and chances are you can apply the things you've learned to something else.

Um... (1, Redundant)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019837)

Do baking bread and brewing beer even qualify as lost arts?

I know five people who make their own beer and wine (not to mention the multitude of microbrewery brands that have popped up in recent years), and a good third of an aisle at my grocery store is ready to bake mixtures for those home bread machines. I have one myself because they make the perfect sized loaf for lonely single guys like me.

Knot tying a lost art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019838)

I guess, seeing all you running around with your laces untied, claiming it's a fashion choice.

Is it common? (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019839)

there are so many skills 'lost' in the modern 'american' lifestyle... but I find my fellows tend to have books on these subjects lying around, too. Is this common in geekdom? Is this an expression of 'hacking' outside of machinery/engineering?"


Of the 3 geeks we have at the office, we have a banjo maker and player, a beer brewer, a machinist with a lathe, a mill, and no CNC and another machinist with a lathe. We have a cabinetmaker. We have 2 skilled black and white photographers that do their own darkroom work, and one who collects minicomputers and 80's era broadcast televison cameras.

Are you implying... (5, Funny)

poity (465672) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019844)

... that the Amish are the 31337est hackers?

note my email address (1)

The Unabageler (669502) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019845)

I do as much as I can myself. fixing the car, cooking from scratch, building a kite, etc. In the boy scouts I forged my own knife, caught my own rabbits to eat while on the trail, fetched and purified all my own water, built my own shelter each night, to list a few. Hacking is indeed a lifestyle and not one to be taken for granted. Think of how many pinks out there can't even fill up their gas tank, let alone work the tivo remote!!! It will pervade every aspect of your being and drive you to do things that most people will say you are stupid for bothering when you could just pay someone to do it with a guarantee. To paraphrase "Tommy Boy", I can shit in a box and guarantee it if it will make you happy. Doing things myself from scratch is what makes me happy. Maybe that's where I get my sense of personal responsibility too.

Try the Foxfire book series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019847)

There's a series of books that have been out for a while that talk about all kinds of survival and basic skills like making yarn and shelter and making cheese, etc ...

Is the seeking of lost skills/arts etc. (2, Insightful)

bongobongo (608275) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019864)

Is the seeking of lost skills and arts a hacking analog? Well, I wouldn't say so. Hacking is about creating the means to an end oneself, independant of any official or sanctioned guidelines. Seeking lost skills and arts is simply undertaking a nostalgic quest, much like deciding to collect Christian Archie comics from 1973 or something. The process may involve some hacking, as "lost skills" no doubt have less than perfect handbooks for them... but there's nothing that necessarily makes it analogous to hacking.

One is a method -- one is an interest. I can see people who are into hacking being interested in lost art/skill revival though... :)

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019870)

"Having just finished my first batch of home-brew beer..."

Wow! You drank the whole batch?!!

Seeking for lost wisdoms (1)

axxackall (579006) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019873)

I am seeking for lost wisdoms. Modern civilization forgot many of them. One is to understand at the world around *AND* at that process to understand the way how you understand the world.

We lost many wisdoms and we continue loosing them. AI in a big scale failed. Why? Software engineers don't want to work with knowledge: working with bytes is much simpler and mostly reflect the quality of American education. High order functions and high order logic is just too much for an average Joe-Programmer. The software industry rejected the wisdom. I am seeking to find lost wisdoms of software engineering.

In art, compare music of Bach, Mozart or Bethoven with modern noise. Why is it so bad now? Because musicians today do it for money and only for money. They are no different than 300 years ago drunk musicians in a port tavern. Personally, I think that music has finished on Jazz, on after-hours improvisation sessions. Without the wisdom the creativity has left the music. In old records, in new re-improvisations and in classic music performacs I am seeking for lost music wisdoms.

I can continue about painting, literature, movies, theatre, and, of course, about phylosophy. But you've got a point.

Would you classify it as a geekfullness? I don't think about that. All I want is to find the most I can and to pass the most I can to others, thus saving what I found from being lost finally (or reducing the chance of being finally lost).

'how to book series' (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#6019882)

If you want a how-to-book series, check out the Foxfire series.

You'll learn how to make traps, make black gunpowder, tan hides, hunt various critters, work metal, woodcraft, and other things I've never done that the books list.

The pictures of the old toilets used to get material for black gunpowder reminds one what you did in the 1900's. And how yoou REALLY don't want to stay there, just go for visits.

Renaissance man. (1)

SupahVee (146778) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019886)

I don't think that it is very unique to your situation, as I find myself trying all sorts of new things that don't relate to traditional hacking. my current passion being cooking, not just making food for myself for sustinence, but getting in the kitchen for about 4-6 hours, and making 6 course meals. Even though the only person in the house is my wife and son. Gardening is also quite fun these days, and my wife has discovered the art of making bread, all sorts of bread, sheepherder bread, sourdough, everything.

This may be different for other people, but my wife and I both agree that we want to do this for several reasons, the biggest one being that we have a child now, and entrusting him with the control of the microwave and television just isn't what I want to pass on to him. And I personally think the world is going to hell on a fast train, and in the next 40 years, we could see the downfall of the American society as we know it. I know it sounds a bit catastrophic, but it will happen, maybe soon, maybe not in my lifetime. And things like the skills that people seem to people striving for these days will be very valuable. Plus, it sure is damn cheap to grow and make your own food, rather than shopping all the time.

Then again, people could just be discovering the joy of creating something from nothing, kinda like hacking. :-)

necessity (1)

cr@ckwhore (165454) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019893)

Congrats on the homebrewed beer ... I've been homebrewing for about 2 years now and I find it to be a very rewarding hobby if you know what I mean ;)

Just my thoughts on the subject ... I doubt that the skills you mention will ever be "lost". Just like how people today still fiddle around with trebuchets and other cool ancient items, I think there will always be people that churn butter for historical clarity.

Tasks such as making soap, etc. really aren't necessities of our lives any more. Skills have a way of exiting society when they aren't needed for survival any longer ... kinda like how very few people still fashion arrowheads out of volcanic glass ... we simply don't have to. We have supermarkets in which to hunt already killed animals... the days of going to the forest to go shopping are long over.

Organic Chemistry! (1)

Gumber (17306) | more than 11 years ago | (#6019908)

I've been thinking for a while of trying to do organic synthesis using primitive reagents.
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