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Welcome to DIYPedia™ -- The DIY Encyclopedia

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DIY/Do It Yourself:
Do it yourself, often referred to by the acronym DIY, is a term used by various communities that focus on people (called do-it-yourselfers or DIYers) creating or repairing things for themselves without the aid of paid professionals.

The notion is related in philosophy to the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many modern DIY subcultures take the traditional Arts and Crafts movement's rebellion against the perceived lack of soul of industrial aesthetics a step further. DIY subculture explicitly critiques modern consumer culture, which emphasizes that the solution to our needs is to purchase things, and instead encourage people to take technologies into their own hands to solve needs.

The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to various jobs that people could do in and around their houses without the help of professionals. A very active community of people continues to use the term DIY to refer to fabricating or repairing things for home needs, on one's own rather than purchasing them or paying for professional repair. In other words, home improvement done by the householder without the aid of paid professionals.

In recent years, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. Today, for example, DIY is associated with the international alternative and hardcore music scenes. Members of these subcultures strive to blur the lines between creator and consumer by constructing a social network that ties users and makers close together. There are various communities of media-makers that consider themselves DIY, for example the indymedia network, pirate radio stations, and the zine community.

Home Improvement
The home improvement DIY scene we know today is actually a re-introduction (often to city and suburb dwellers) of the old pattern of personal involvement in home or apartment upkeep, or the making of clothing, or maintaining of cars, computers, websites, or any material aspect of living. A comment by philosopher Alan Watts (from the "Houseboat Summit" panel discussion in a 1967 edition of the San Francisco Oracle) reflected a growing sentiment of the times:

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 response to this sort of insight, in the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this movement involved simply the renovation of affordable, rundown older homes. But it also related to some extent to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the '60s and early 1970s. A young American visionary named 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. And there were specialized, designed items, such as carpenter's and mason's tools, garden tools, welding equipment, chainsaws, fiberglass materials, etc. — even early personal computers. (The designer J. Baldwin acted as editor for the inclusion of these items, writing many of the reviews himself.) 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 to keep current on useful information. DIY home improvement books began to flourish in the 1970s, first created as compendiums of magazine articles. One of the earliest extensive lines of DIY how-to books was created by Sunset Books, based upon articles derived from the pages of Sunset Magazine 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 to Internet users. Since the late 1990s, DIY has exploded on the Web through thousands of sites.

In the 1970s, when home video (VCRs) came along, the potentials in demonstrating processes audio-visually were immediately grasped by DIY instructors. In 1979, This Old House starring Bob Vila premiered on PBS and started the DIY television revolution. The show was immensely popular and helped grow the DIY industry by 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.

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 that are often extensions of their magazine or television brand. The growth of independent online DIY resources is also spiking and the number of homeowners who blog about their own experiences continues to grow along with Do-It-Yourself websites from smaller organizations.

Subculture:
The term 'DIY' or 'Do-It-Yourself' is also used to describe:
1. Self-publishing books, zines, and alternative comics.
2. Bands or solo artists releasing their music on self-funded record labels.
3. Creating crafts such as knitting, sewing, handmade jewelry, ceramics, etc.
4. Creating punk, indie, or hipster musical merchandise through the use of recycling thrift store or discarded materials, usually decorated with logo art applied by silk screen.
5. Independent game development and game modding.

DIY as a subculture arguably began with the punk movement of the 1970s. Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording themselves, 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. Zines quickly became one of the youth culture's gateways to DIY culture, which lead to tutorial zines showing others how to make their own shirts, posters, zines, books, food, etc.

"Shade Tree" Auto Mechanics:
An auto mechanic (or car mechanic in British English and motor mechanic in Australian English) is a mechanic who specializes in automobile maintenance, repair, and sometimes modification. A mechanic may be knowledgeable in working on all parts of a variety of car makes or may specialize either in a specific area or in a specific make of car. In repairing cars, their main role is to diagnose the problem accurately and quickly. They often have to quote prices for their customers before commencing work or after partial disassembly for inspection. The mechanic uses both electronic means of gathering data as well as their senses. Their job may involve the repair of a specific part or the replacement of one or more parts as assemblies.

Basic vehicle maintenance is a fundamental part of a mechanic's work in some countries, while in others they are only consulted when a vehicle is already showing signs of malfunction. Preventative maintenance is also a fundamental part of a mechanic's job, but this is not possible in the case of vehicles that are not regularly maintained by a mechanic. One misunderstood aspect of preventative maintenance is scheduled replacement of various parts, which occurs before failure to avoid far more expensive damage. Because this means that parts are replaced before any problem is observed, many vehicle owners will not understand why the expense is necessary.

With the rapid advancement in technology, the mechanic's job has evolved from purely mechanical, to include electronic technology. Because vehicles today possess complex computer and electronic systems, mechanics need to have a broader base of knowledge than in the past. Lately, the term "auto mechanic" is being used less and less frequently and is being replaced by the euphemistic title “automotive service technician”. Fading quickly is the day of the 'shade tree mechanic', who needed little knowledge of today's computerized systems.

Due to the increasingly labyrinthine nature of the technology that is now incorporated into automobiles, most automobile dealerships now provide sophisticated diagnostic computers to each technician, without which they would be unable to diagnose or repair a vehicle.

Political Action:
With the rise of the modern multi-national corporation, North American and European DIY culture has increasingly become a social and political ideology as well as a hobby and fashion aesthetic. Similar to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s, the modern DIY movement is viewed as a reactionary response on an individual scale to modern industrial society's reliance on mass-production. In response to the perception and belief that these large multi-national companies exploit labor in developing countries, (such as Gap, Nike, and Coca-Cola), the DIY subculture has increasingly seen its choices as consumers motivated in part to not support such perceived cruelty and abuse. A common sentiment expressed in DIY culture is to "think globally, act locally," meaning that support of multinational corporations supports exploitative labor and environmental practices, so to purchase goods and services made locally in effect boycotts these organizations. In addition, the making, recycling, or otherwise following a doctrine of "non consumption" as part of DIY subculture lessens the amount of sales taxes one pays, such taxes being viewed as similarly aiding such morally repugnant institutions as governments which wage war. This view of "consuming less as political statement" is not agreed upon in the subcultures it is found in, but is a motivating force for many of its adherents.

DIY culture is not limited to hand-making items such as clothing and housewares, but extends to choices of public transportation such as biking and bike repair, walking, taking public transportation, making electric, hybrid or bio-diesel vehicles and modifying existing vehicles, to avoid supporting traditional car companies, which are perceived to be amoral. Listening to and making community radio, pirate radio, and watching and making community television instead of advertising-filled traditional media is also common.

 

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