Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Journeyman Project

Dirty Jobs photographer and cameraman Troy Paff's The Journeyman Project is a beautifully documented survey of the tradespeople and DIYers of the new century.

"In the five years since Dirty Jobs‘ premiere, its small crew has experienced an unprecedented number of vocations. With nearly 300 jobs and 50 states under their belt, Dirty Jobs has investigated – and celebrated – those occupations which, while often unsavory, keep the country running. A common thread which runs through these occupations is a particular character required to do them. It is a fundamental commitment to do a job and do it well, where glamour takes a back seat to service, and where pride in a job done well is its own reward. It is this sense of character that Troy will explore, shining a light on the individual behind the job, and expressing the personality and the motivations of the worker.

"The route Troy takes will be an evolving one directed by the subjects of the project. Some of the subjects Troy knows, or has wanted to meet. While many of the Dirty Jobs alumni will be revisited, referrals from this ‘family’ will further lead him to individuals who exemplify that same through-line of character: the tradesmen and skilled labor who are driven to succeed in spite of the challenges of their vocations and the hardships of the economy, if not because of them.

"The Journeyman Project shall be a celebration of the individual, and over time and the course of a growing compendium of subjects, it will express the collective character of the skilled worker in contemporary America. In an environment where ‘The American Dream’ has been outmoded, themes to explore include the trending decline of the trades and the growing demand for skilled workers, the loss of manufacturing and the effect of trade agreements with Asia and Central America, the decline of infrastructure, high unemployment rates, the housing and mortgage crisis, continued war and national security, ecological catastrophes, and just what ‘recovery’ means in the 21st century."

I love this for a lot of reasons. One of them is the project's focus on truly 21st Century lifestyles. Another is Paff's "celebration of the individual," because we aren't a "we" in the abstract, but a collection of heroes - every last one of us, in our own unique way - who make the choice to work together for greater things. And, of course, because our dear friend Jeff Sturges and our very own Bethany Shorb are featured!

update: It was just pointed out that our pal & MAKE editor Gareth Branwyn posted about The Journeyman Project this afternoon: clickity-click!

The Blast Shack

If you read only one essay on Wikileaks, Cablegate, Private Bradley Manning, Mr. Assange and cypherpunk culture, this is the most erudite and eloquent I think you'll find: "The Blast Shack" by Bruce Sterling.

I'd quote a couple paragraphs here, but you should just read it straight through. It would be like disrupting a meal - a meal filled with melancholy, humor and enlightenment. [I don't think it's quite as melancholy as Bruce says it is. Then again, "optimistic" is one of the two words in my current made-up political alignment.]

If you do read two articles on the subject, perhaps the second best I've seen is this morning's piece by Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic: "Wikileaks Exposes Internet's Dissent Tax, not Nerd Supremacy".

Oh, and a Canadian poet prophetically explains exactly why an Australian hacker would target the USA [spoiler alert: optimism.]