Tinkering and Society

Tinkering and Society

I was wondering what as a society lead to historically value one form of tinkering from the other.
Mechanic vs mechanical engineer
Electrician vs electrical engineer
Tailor vs textile designer
I think that the former as group is more productive than the later and requires more effort still underpaid. (What are your views? Why is it so?) I also don’t have nuance understanding of the relationship between engineering and innovation. Any good reading/books to understand these complexities and also would like members to share insights?

( I also think that this is also the reason why emerging makerspaces in school setting is skewed to one form of making rather than the other. For instance, digital prototyping is more associated with makerspace rather than carpentry. My guess is that design is somehow reflection of the structure of society in which we are living which has already decided on what form of making is worth introducing in makerspaces or rather what form of making characterise the Makerspaces)


Instead of comparing two kinds of people, let us distinguish the two kinds of skills: Fabricating and Designing. The reason why I don’t want to compare as two different people is because the same person can do both. Some element of design exists in most executions, some of them depend more on prior calculation. Let us look at the two kinds of bridges we build.

The former also needs design, but the arrived design is driven by common sense and loads of experience. The latter bridge is counter-intuitive: How can the load bearing structure is above the ground? The latter is theory-driven design. The latter is not possible without understanding the mathematical and physical properties of how rigid structures distribute force.

Similarly, we can distinguish between carts with wheels, and vehicles that have mediating wheels (gears) between the engine and the wheels that touch the ground. Archimedes, who is both a mechanical engineer as well as a mathematician, built some of the first counter-intuitive gadgets. These I will classify under theory-driven designs.

Ada Lovelace is another example of design-theory-driven fabrication.

Hope these examples will help us to drive our discussion to see that we need both tinkering and thinkering.


[quote=“ravi31, post:1, topic:2370”] …
still underpaid. (What are your views? Why is it so?)

Rather than only seeing the comparison along this plane, one may fairly smoothly move on to compiling more than one parameter in order to build an effective comparative framework.

This, as one possibility, rather than worrying about the collective earning payments actually being made today. Consider why they even need to be compared, when it is likely that shifting to an effective scale of per unit of work competence and creativity delivers more value to society, that needs compensation, in order to positively enhance the experience.

That could, conceivably, be a tempered guarantee of life-supporting inputs, based on that scaling. Which only depends on the elements and their ranges in order to arrive at a valuation that can dictate any additional form of reward, over and above guaranteed life resources.

At STEMgames, for instance, the skill of reportage and discussion and some other contributions earns a large set of awards and badges. The ability to do even one, and then more, of those things well can be equitably compared.

Of course, depending on the specific skills, such additional material awards may deliver the ability to deliver valuable soft or hard objects, for which a person scrambling to live will rarely have time. Missing out on it in a substantially money oriented workframe is the mark of a society that fails to effectively recognise human value.

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It is, substantially so.
That, IMO, arises from the ability to scale, from which rises the ability to optimize input resources for a particular task.
Ability to scale keeps running into hard limits when restricted to skill alone. One then attempts to abstract the skill into a set of more easily controlled parameters.
The higher the level of abstraction of a product / process the more pliable it becomes, hence a greater value on such abstraction. Especially so with computer driven manufacturing systems manufacturing semiconductor devices to drive the next level of manufacturing themselves.
One can see the value scale in quants trading and pattern recognition - I deliberately refrain from labeling this as AI - both of which involve huge levels of abstraction. A large number of fluid dynamics engineers are engaged in flow modelling of financial paper, which brings in far more moolah than the exact same job of flow modelling of wind over a piece of metal. Many might label quant trading as an obnoxious, evil activity. But IMO such systems are inevitable, evil or not.

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