October 29, 2007
Me and Ikea
I've been helping some friends with minor home improvements and assembling Ikea-stuff. (Hey, some of it looks kinda nice even when you ignore the fact that it's made of particle board).
As frustrating as the pictograph instructions can be, I actually kind of like doing stuff like putting furniture together, or hanging curtain rods, or replacing doorknobs. For starters they're all things I'm (mostly) capable of doing, so it feels nice to be able to accomplish something.
And they're also about the only time I can create or fix something that actually exists. Everything else I do is far more ephemeral -- all the web sites, programs and so on are nothing more than variations in the strength of a magnetic field on a metal plate. They're not even the plate itself. Sure, they can be transmitted and duplicated at speeds determined only by bandwidth -- it's kind of neat that a person in China can read what I write, assuming the government lets them.
But when I build something, it's actually there. I can point at it and say, "I made that." In a sense, I can't actually show anyone the web sites I make: I'd have to pull a hard drive out of a server, and take it apart, and even if I knew which platter it was on I couldn't tell you where it was.
A new web site may travel across the world at the speed of DNS propagation, but Ikea furniture can't be destroyed by an inconveniently-timed power outage.