Should we just "wave goodbye" to traditional skills like thatching and
basketry? "Or should we fight to maintain them, albeit somewhat
artificially?" This is the centuries-old question Leo Hickman
poses in The Guardian. He admits he's "caught somewhere between
nostalgia and pragmatism on all this." Reviving handmade goods when cheaper machine-made versions are available is hard, and the question is
how we should--and whether we should--"engineer a demand for such
products if the market can't do so freely." If we're going to try,
wonders Hickman, should we assume all crafts--including ones that
produce services rather than products, like tracking and herb lore--are
equally worth saving? He admits he's stumped:
I don't know
the answer to that, but I have long thought it would be a good idea if
we "banked" these skills somehow, just as we are now endeavouring to do
with seeds. You just never know whether we'll need them in the future.
Maybe it's time to establish a worldwide network of volunteers to
record, through the written word and videos, as many of these dying
skills as possible? Actually, a cursory look on YouTube fills me with
hope that an army of willing volunteers is probably out there already
and just needs someone or something to corral them together. For
example, I've just spent five minutes learning from a woman with a very
relaxing voice how to make a Chinese flat knot using macramé. Don't mock: come the oil crash you'll be begging me to show you how to do it yourself.
Maybe here's the bigger question, then: could YouTube save artisanry?
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