Do it yourself

Large hardware stores have capitalized upon the DIY ambitions of North Americans
A boy assembling a bookcase

Do it yourself (DIY) is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to home improvement projects which people might choose to complete independently.

In recent years, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. DIY is associated with the international alternative rock, punk rock, and indie rock music scenes; indymedia networks, pirate radio stations, and the zine community. In this context, DIY is related to the Arts and Crafts movement, in that it offers an alternative to modern consumer culture's emphasis on relying on others to satisfy needs.

Contents

Home improvement

The DIY movement is a re-introduction (often to urban and suburban dwellers) of the old pattern of personal involvement and use of skills in upkeep of a house or apartment, making clothes; maintenance of cars, computers, websites; or any material aspect of living. The philosopher Alan Watts (from the "Houseboat Summit" panel discussion in a 1967 edition of the San Francisco Oracle) reflected a growing sentiment:[citation needed]

Our educational system, in its entirety, does nothing to give us any kind of material competence. In other words, we don't learn how to cook, how to make clothes, how to build houses, how to make love, or to do any of the absolutely fundamental things of life. The whole education that we get for our children in school is entirely in terms of abstractions. It trains you to be an insurance salesman or a bureaucrat, or some kind of cerebral character.

In the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this movement involved the renovation of affordable, rundown older homes. But it also related to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the 1960s and early 1970s. The young visionary Stewart Brand, working with friends and family, and initially using the most basic of typesetting and page-layout tools, published the first edition of The Whole Earth Catalog (subtitled Access to Tools) in late 1968.

The first Catalog, and its successors, used a broad definition of the term "tools". There were informational tools, such as books (often technical in nature), professional journals, courses, classes, and the like. There were specialized, designed items, such as carpenters' and masons' tools, garden tools, welding equipment, chainsaws, fiberglass materials and so on; even early personal computers. The designer J. Baldwin acted as editor to include such items, writing many of the reviews. The Catalog's publication both emerged from and spurred the great wave of experimentalism, convention-breaking, and do-it-yourself attitude of the late 1960s. Often copied, the Catalog appealed to a wide cross-section of people in North America and had a broad influence.

For decades, magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated offered a way for readers to keep current on useful practical skills and techniques. DIY home improvement books began to flourish in the 1970s, first created as collections of magazine articles. An early, extensive line of DIY how-to books was created by Sunset Books, based upon previously published articles from their magazine, Sunset, based in California. Time-Life, Better Homes & Gardens, and other publishers soon followed suit.

In the mid-1990s, DIY home-improvement content began to find its way onto the World Wide Web. HouseNet was the earliest bulletin-board style site where users could share information. HomeTips.com, established in early 1995, was among the first Web-based sites to deliver free extensive DIY home-improvement content created by expert authors. Since the late 1990s, DIY has exploded on the Web through thousands of sites.

In the 1970s, when home video (VCRs) came along, DIY instructors quickly grasped its potential for demonstrating processes by audio-visual means. In 1979, This Old House, starring Bob Vila, premiered on PBS and started the DIY television revolution. The show was immensely popular, educating people on how to improve their living conditions (and the value of their house) without the expense of paying someone to do it. In 1994, the HGTV Network cable television channel was launched in the United States and Canada, followed in 1999 by the DIY Network cable television channel. Both were launched to appeal to the growing percentage of North Americans interested in DIY topics, from home improvement to knitting. Such channels have multiple shows showing how to stretch one's budget to achieve professional-looking results (Design Cents, Design on a Dime, etc.) while doing the work yourself. Toolbelt Diva specifically caters to female DIYers.

Beyond magazines and television, the scope of home improvement DIY continues to grow online where most mainstream media outlets now have extensive DIY-focused informational websites such as This Old House, Martha Stewart, and the DIY Network. These are often extensions of their magazine or television brand. The growth of independent online DIY resources is also spiking.[1] The number of homeowners who blog about their experiences continues to grow, along with DIY websites from smaller organizations.

Subculture

The terms "DIY" and "do-it-yourself" are also used to describe:

DIY as a subculture could be said to have begun with the punk movement of the 1970s.[4] Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording, manufacturing albums and merchandise, booking their own tours, and creating opportunities for smaller bands to get wider recognition and gain cult status through repetitive low-cost DIY touring. The burgeoning zine movement took up coverage of and promotion of the underground punk scenes, and significantly altered the way fans interacted with musicians. Zines quickly branched off from being hand-made music magazines to become more personal; they quickly became one of the youth culture's gateways to DIY culture. This led to tutorial zines showing others how to make their own shirts, posters, zines, books, food, etc.

Groups and publications

See also

References

Notes
  1. ^ Wall Street Journal, September 2007
  2. ^ "DIY Network Craft Page". http://www.diynetwork.com/diy/crafts/. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  3. ^ "DIY guide to screen printing t-shirts for cheap". http://www.diehippiedie.com/screwball/diyshirt.html. Retrieved 2007-09-24. ""Ever wonder where bands get their T-shirts made? Some of them probably go to the local screen printers and pay a bunch of money to have their shirts made up, then they have to turn around and sell them to you for a high price. Others go the smart route, and do it themselves. Here's a quick how-to on the cheap way to going about making T-shirts."" 
  4. ^ "Oxford Journal of Design History Webpage". http://jdh.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/19/1/69. Retrieved 2007-09-24. ""Yet, it remains within the subculture of punk music where the homemade, A4, stapled and photocopied fanzines of the late 1970s fostered the "do-it-yourself" (DIY) production techniques of cut-n-paste letterforms, photocopied and collaged images, hand-scrawled and typewritten texts, to create a recognizable graphic design aesthetic."" 

External links


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