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Posts tagged tools

from “MIT Student Designs All-Terrain Wheelchair for the Poor,” by Cliff Kuang, Fast Company, 23 February 2010 :: via The Morning News

Nate:

Often a great idea begins with the possibilities suggested by the existence of a tool.

Kevin Kelly, on Garret Wade, purveyor of unusual hand tools

by Nate Barksdale for Culture Making
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Yesterday Comment Magazine has posted an interview Gideon Strauss conducted with me over email a few weeks back, about my role as a curator for Culture-Making.com and, inevitably, my love of Swahili dictionaries. It’s part of their new “Comforts and Delights” feature; a few times a year I’ll be weighing in there with my thoughts about interesting cultural artifacts.

Nate:
from "Why Do Dolphins Carry Sponges?" (article abstract), by Janet Mann, Brooke L. Sargeant, Jana J. Watson-Capps, Quincy A. Gibson, Michael R. Heithaus, Richard C. Connor, and Eric Patterson, PLoS ONE, 10 December 2008 :: via VSL: Science
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Tool use is rare in wild animals, but of widespread interest because of its relationship to animal cognition, social learning and culture. Despite such attention, quantifying the costs and benefits of tool use has been difficult, largely because if tool use occurs, all population members typically exhibit the behavior. In Shark Bay, Australia, only a subset of the bottlenose dolphin population uses marine sponges as tools, providing an opportunity to assess both proximate and ultimate costs and benefits and document patterns of transmission. We compared sponge-carrying (sponger) females to non-sponge-carrying (non-sponger) females and show that spongers were more solitary, spent more time in deep water channel habitats, dived for longer durations, and devoted more time to foraging than non-spongers; and, even with these potential proximate costs, calving success of sponger females was not significantly different from non-spongers. We also show a clear female-bias in the ontogeny of sponging. With a solitary lifestyle, specialization, and high foraging demands, spongers used tools more than any non-human animal. We suggest that the ecological, social, and developmental mechanisms involved likely (1) help explain the high intrapopulation variation in female behaviour, (2) indicate tradeoffs (e.g., time allocation) between ecological and social factors and, (3) constrain the spread of this innovation to primarily vertical transmission.

Nate:
from "The Whole Earth Effect," by Stephen Kotler, Plenty Magazine, October/November 2008 :: via Boing Boing

John Perry Barlow: Before the WEC came out, business was big and ugly. It was a kingdom of acronyms like IBM and GE. But Stewart saw sustainable small business as a virtue.

Lloyd Kahn: This wasn’t business as usual. Backyard tool inventors are a real subculture, usually very apart from the mainstream. For these tool guys, the WEC wasn’t just their Bible; it was great advertising. I think we kept a lot of people in business over the years.

Kevin Kelly: The WEC helped rid us of our allergy to commerce. Brand believed in capitalism, just not by traditional methods. He was the first person to embrace true financial transparency. His decision to disclose WEC’s finances in the pages of the catalog had a profound ripple effect. A lot of those hippies who dropped out and tried to live off the land decided to come back and start small companies because of it. And out of that came the Googles of the world.

Fred Turner: The WEC set the stage for all of today’s social networks. This kind of collaborative communication and the emphasis on small-scale technology really hit home in early Silicon Valley. You have to remember that the first Xerox PARC [the Palo Alto Research Center, a division of Xerox credited with inventing laser printing and the Ethernet, among other things] library consisted of books selected from the WEC by computer guru Alan Kay.