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Why “making culture” matters

September 20, 2010

Mark Frauenfelder created, Boing Boing, he’s also behind MAKE magazine and he’s also just written Made by Hand that explores the new culture of Making.

Here’s a quote from the end of the last chapter of the book.

“Today’s consumers are already conditioned to throw away perfectly good TVs, computers, and MP3 players to make room for the latest model. It’s not easy to see through the consensual illusion that buying stuff will make you happy. But the people I’ve met through Make have succeeded, to one degree or another, in deprogramming themselves of the lifelong consumer brainwashing they’ve received. They’ve learned how to stop depending so much on faceless corporations to provide them with what they need (and desire) and to begin doing some of the things humans have been doing for themselves since the dawn of time. They’re willing to take back some of the control we’ve handed over to institutions. They believe that the sense of control and accomplishment you get from doing something yourself, using your own hands and mind, can’t be achieved in any other way. They make things not because they are born with a special talent for making but because they choose to develop and hone their ability. And yes, some of the things they make are mistakes, but they aren’t afraid of making them, because they’ve rejected the lesson from the Bernays school of brainwashing that says handmade stuff is bad because it isn’t perfect.”

This quote is pretty interesting because it shows Making Culture is all about taking back control and finding satisfaction and enjoyment from our own personal brand of creativity.

One of the fastest growing phenoms in the world of marketing is “Crowdsourcing”, it plays into the ability that people have to make and allows them to contribute to aspects of the marketing process and that’s the problem.

All that’s happening here is that they are being used to make elements of the marketing mix that have the same inherent goals as the stuff created by the professionals. They are merely substitutes in the dream creation process, they are creating communication and that’s not enough.

What’s the next level?

How does this Making Culture manifest itself inside of brands?

It suggests that we have to get people even more involved in the products they buy.

A couple of thoughts:

1. Maybe products need to be de-constructed and more modular, so that they require more effort and engagement to create- think Ikea. Maybe we’ve become too obsessed with convenience?

2. What if learning was a big part of what brands wanted their customers to achieve and that teaching was part of the brand DNA? An easy exercise here would be identify the one thing you could teach your customer that would make them better and smarter.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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