Thursday, November 27, 2008

How To Do Stuff

In an attempt to get back on track blogging with "30 Posts in 30 Days" I've been sifting through my collection of half-written posts (now spread across three different computers--electronic clutter times 3!). Here's a resource I don't want to lose track of: 80 How-To Sites Worth Bookmarking. The list includes eight topics such as "Become a Technophile in 10 Easy Steps," "Dining on a DIY Diet," and "Every How-To They Can Get Their Hands On." It's a post on Stepcase Lifehack, a blog on productivity and personal development: Dozens of authors posting how-to's on dozens of topics.

"Life hacks" as an information category has alternately irritated me and filled me with pity. The things kids need directions for, these days! How to shop on a budget; how to cook something for dinner; how to iron a shirt--didn't their parents teach them anything? Evidently not. Thank goodness someone taught them how to look stuff up on the Internet.

I started learning how to do stuff from books when I was 10 or 11, and the Internet sucked me in long before the World Wide Web appeared. Those Usenet newsgroups were a gold mine of esoteric "how-to" information, from statistical analysis (where I was legitimately using my computer guest account) through baking, brewing, photography, and musical instrument repair (not legitimate computer use for me, but very welcome). I don't know when directions for simple and mundane things like ironing your own shirts and comparative grocery shopping started to appear.

I guess I feel sorry for people who have to look up these things on the Internet because these are things adults taught me when I was a child. When I iron shirts, I remember my mom showing me how; when I roll out bread dough with a rolling pin, I think of my grandma; when I fry an egg, I remember fixing breakfast with my dad.

Learning how to do something is its own reward, but I really hope the "life hackers" have some knowledge that gives them a connection to the past and their families.

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