‘Do-It-Yourself’ (DIY) is a mantra that has been around for a while and has strong associations with home improvement. Once upon a time many of us would have been building our own homes as there was no alternative. Now, DIY stands in opposition to getting the professionals in to do the job. In that sense the DIY approach is the untrained approach or at least the approach that does not require formal training.
I have chosen to use the phrase DIY for a much wider spectre of activities from sewing your own clothes, to amateur bike racing or homeschooling your kids and with focus on the “with no formal training” part. My main interest in the subject is autodidactism (i.e. self-taught) and information behaviour.
Here is my current list of DIY activities:
- Textile crafts (for example: knitting, sewing, weaving, spinning, dyeing)
- Food making (for example: cooking, baking, canning)
- Wood and Metal crafts (for example: wood turning, smithery)
- Education (for example homeschooling, instructor, outreach)
- Heritage (for example: genealogy, reenactment)
- Gardening (for example: growing vegetables, fruits or flowers, picking berries)
- Animals (for example: training dogs, riding horses, fishing, keeping chicken)
- Building (for example: building a shed, refurbishing the living room, painting furniture)
- Vehicles (for example: mechanics, vintage cars)
- Sports (for example: bike riding, golf, football)
- Digital (for example: blogging, programming, hacking)
I use the phrase DIY culture in a testing manner, trying to answer the question of whether it is possible to talk about those who engage with DIY activities as a part of a particular DIY culture or not?
The first part of this research project is a very short survey – check it out!
You can also sign up for the DIY culture and Information behaviour project newsletter for more info on results, future surveys and interviews.
I’ll leave you with this image from my Instagram of my DIY garden a couple of days ago. Some may question why I list gardening and cooking as DIY activities. I would like to leave it to the survey participants to decide whether they would define for their gardening activities as DIY activities.
If I only mowed the lawn once a week during summer to avoid my neighbours annoyance I wouldn’t think of it as a DIY activity. On the other hand, If I had a kitchen garden or experimented with growing roses I would definitely think of it as a DIY activity.