If we are are going to break free from total dependency on manufactured goods, we will need to make uncommon use of materials – materials we don’t normally think of using or materials that are new to us. Materials that will permit us to make a lot of different things ourselves, and in using them, we can craft our stuff to suit us better – whether we are hacking existing items or making something from scratch.
There is a great sci-fi book by Jerry Pournelle called The Mote in God’s eye. This book describes a race of people which are differentiated into specialized breeds. While such a concept (eugenics) is abhorrent to us here at ProvideYourOwn, the book is fascinating nonetheless. One of the breeds among this race is an engineering class. Not only are they brilliant tinkerers, but they have an array of materials and skills with which they are constantly making, rebuilding and/or hacking things to suit their needs. No rummaging through catalogs or wandering the store aisle; ending by buying something that only partly meets your need. No, these folks would cobble together exactly what they needed from a combination of miscellaneous parts and some very … Read the rest