Do it yourself

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Do it yourself (or DIY) is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to home improvement projects which people might choose to complete independently.

In recent years, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. DIY is associated with the international alternative rock, punk rock, and indie rock music scenes; indymedia networks, pirate radio stations, and the zine community. In this context, DIY is related to the Arts and Crafts movement, in that it offers an alternative to modern consumer culture's emphasis on relying on others to satisfy needs.

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Home improvement

The DIY scene is a re-introduction (often to urban and suburban dwellers) of the old pattern of personal involvement and use of skills in upkeep of a house or apartment, making clothes; maintenance of cars, computers, websites; or any material aspect of living. The philosopher Alan Watts (from the "Houseboat Summit" panel discussion in a 1967 edition of the San Francisco Oracle) reflected a growing sentiment:

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 the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this movement involved the renovation of affordable, rundown older homes. But it also related to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the 1960s and early 1970s. The young visionary 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. 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 to include such items, writing many of the reviews.) 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.

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