The Craftsman - Richard Senett
THE TROUBLED CRAFTSMAN
all craftsmen (...) are dedicated to good work for its own sake.
The craftsman represents the special human condition of being ENGAGED.
(...) explore what happens when hand and head, technique and science, art and craft are separated. I will show how the head then suffers; both understanding and expression are impaired.
THE MODERN HEPHAESTUS - ANCIENT WEAVERS AND LINUX PROGRAMMERS
Linux and Eric Raymond LOOK UP
(...) realm of Linux programming. Its members are grappling with a structural problem: how can quality of knowledge coexist with free and equal exchange in a community?
the demioergoi were frequently addressed in public by the names of their profession. All craftsmanship, indeed, has something of this impersonal character.
(Mills) the worker can control his or her own actions at work; skill develops within the work process; work is connected to the freedom to experiment; finally, family, community, and politics are measured by the standards of inner satisfaction, coherence, and experiment in craft labor.
WEAKENED MOTIVATION - WORKERS DEMORALIZED BY COMMAND AND BY COMPETITION
The modern world has two recipes for arousing the desire to work hard and well. One is the moral imperative to do work for the sake of the community. The other recipe invokes competition: it supposes that competing against others stimulates the desire to perform well, and in place of communal cohesion, it promises individual rewards. Both recipes have proved troubled. Neither has—in naked form—served the craftsman’s aspiration for quality.
(suburbs moscow 50's onwards) Poor craftsmanship was a barometer of other forms of material indifference.
equally demoralized workers at many British building sites. The construction industry in free-market Britain suffers from low productivity; its craft workers are treated badly or indifferently; onsite initiative is discouraged.
Engineers, like musicians, are intensely competitive creatures; the issue for both is what happens when a compensating cooperation vanishes: the work degrades
In principle, many new economy firms subscribe to the doctrines of teamwork and cooperation but (...) these principles are often a charade (34)
But craft does not protect them. In today’s globalized marketplace, middle-level skilled workers risk the prospect of losing employment to a peer in India or China who has the same skills but works for lower pay; job loss is no longer merely a working-class problem.(35)
although many are joiners of voluntary organizations, few are active participants. The political scientist Robert Putnam has explained this diminished ‘‘social capital,’’ in his celebrated book Bowling Alone, as the result of television culture and the consumerist ethic; in our study, we found that withdrawal from institutions was tied more directly to people’s experiences at work.
The forms of collective communication in Japanese auto plants and the practices of cooperation in firms like Nokia and Motorola have made them profitable. In other realms of the new economy, however, competition has disabled and disheartened workers, and the craftsman’s ethos of doing good work for its own sake is unrewarded or invisible.
FRACTURED SKILLS - HAND AND HEAD DIVIDED
We should be suspicious of claims for innate, untrained talent. ‘‘I could write a good novel if only I had the time’’ or ‘‘if only I could pull myself together’’ is usually a narcissist’s fantasy. Going over an action 38 craftsmen again and again, by contrast, enables self-criticism. Modern education fears repetitive learning as mind-numbing. Afraid of boring children, avid to present ever-different stimulation, the enlightened teacher may avoid routine—but thus deprives children of the experience of studying their own ingrained practice and modulating it from within.
(Isaac Stern) the better your technique, the longer you can rehearse without becoming bored
(but) When practice is organized as a means to a fixed end, then the problems of the closed system reappear; the person in training will meet a fixed target but won’t progress further.
Skill opens up (...) only because the rhythm of solving and opening up occurs again and again. These precepts about building skill through practice encounter a great obstacle in modern society (...) The smart machine can separate human mental understanding from repetitive, instructive, hands-on learning. When this occurs, conceptual human powers suffer.
the machine has seemed to threaten the work of artisan-craftsmen. The threat appeared physical; industrial machines never tired, they did the same
work hour after hour without complaining. The modern machine’s threat to developing skill has a different character.
(autocad and the threat that it possibly represents) As in other visual practices, architectural sketches are often pictures of possibility; in the process of crystallizing and refining them by hand, the designer proceeds just as a tennis player or musician does, gets deeply involved in it, matures thinking about it. The site, as this architect observes, ‘‘becomes ingrained in the mind.’’ ... ‘‘This is very typical of the craftsman’s approach. You think and you do at the same time. You draw and you make. Drawing . . . is revisited. You do it, you redo it, and you redo it again.’’≤∫ This attaching, circular metamorphosis can be aborted by CAD (...) ‘‘When you show me that result, the computer understands the answer, but I don’t think you understand the answer (...) the architect Elliot Felix observes, ‘‘each action is less consequent than it would be [on] paper . . . each will be less carefully considered.’’(41)
Drawing in bricks by hand, tedious though the process is, prompts the designer to think about their materiality, to engage with their solidity as against the blank, unmarked space on paper of a window. Computer-assisted design also impedes the designer in thinking about scale, as opposed to sheer size
(...) what appears on-screen is impossibly coherent, framed in a unified way that physical sight never is.
(...) The large issue here is that simulation can be a poor substitute for tactile experience (...) Overdetermined design rules out the crinkled fabric of buildings that allow little start-up businesses, and so communities, to grow and vibrate. This texture results from determined structures that permit uses to abort, swerve, and evolve.
(...) The difficult and the incomplete should be positive events in our understanding; they should stimulate us as simulation and facile manipulation of complete objects cannot.
Bearers of embodied knowledge but mere manual laborers, they were not accorded that privilege. This is the sharp edge in the problem of skill; the head and the hand are not simply separated intellectually but socially.
CONFLICTING STANDARDS - CORRECT VERSUS PRACTICAL
What do we mean by good-quality work? One answer is how something should be done, the other is getting it to work. This is a difference between correctness and functionality. Ideally, there should be no conflict; in the real world, there is (...) To the absolutist in every craftsman, each imperfection is a failure; to the practitioner, obsession with perfection seems a prescription for failure.
(Healthcare and the measure of efficiency) Researchers in western Europe widely report that practitioners believe that their craft skills in dealing with patients are being frustrated by the push for institutional standards. (46)
1 - collective purposes not always seem to work in the pursuit of excellency, as the socialist experiments had proven. In other hand, the technological development in Japanese factories proved the contrary. These were the firms in western society that manage to generate the higher level of development and efficiency.
2 - developing skill? skills comes out of practice and the use of the machine deprives the individual from an essential repetition-learning process.
3 - conflict on measuring quality standards.institutional standards versus embedded practice
NEXT CHAPTERS: LOOKING UP HISTORY, WORKSHOP AS SOCIAL INSTIUTION, THE ENLIGHTENMENT (MACHINE AND SKILL), CONSCIOUSNESS ON CRAFTING