Gears Photography by Tom Libertiny


The story of Gertrude and Grace primarily focuses on the philosophy of making a critical life choice:  Love or Destiny.

Gears Photography by Tom Libertiny

Photography by Tom Libertiny

But there are several levels to our book:  Physics.  Politics.  Organizations.  Steampunk.  Manufacturing.  And self-reliance; or not.

A book review about Dave Eggers’s A Hologram for the King got me thinking about the notion of self-reliance vs. dependency.

In Andre Mayer’s review in The Grid, he asserts that the book …[is] about a nation’s self-delusion.”  He quotes Alan Clay, the key character in the book, as saying:  “Americans are born knowing everything and nothing. Born moving forward, quickly, or thinking they are.”

All of this is set in the context of the historical manufacturing industry in America compared to the relatively new Economic Cities and Technology Cities found throughout the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and India (part of Eggers’s book is set in Saudi Arabia).  Places that many of us have read about and more and more of us have traveled to.

Setting aside for a moment the issue of ultra-low cost labor found in some of these countries, and the poor living conditions frequently associated with low pay, there are endless reasons that people quote for failure to even start a project (personal or professional).  As author Eggers would have us believe, “…circumstance, prejudice or bad luck…” are three of them.

Instead, self-reliant people throughout the world are adapting.

Continuing with the manufacturing metaphor, places like TechShop, a one-stop place to design and build useful stuff have packaged the benefits of a Technology City into one building.  Square, a credit card reader for smart phones, was designed and built at TechShop.

And just like when everyone started to have computers in their homes, apartments and dorm rooms, MakerBot’s 3D printers now enable everyone to design and build stuff.

Manufacturing is often used as the canary-in-a-coal-mine:  So goes manufacturing, so goes the world.  If that is in fact the case, then people around the world who are self-reliant are doing what they’ve always done:  Adapting and working hard, all with a healthy dose of self-motivation.

Which path will Gertrude and Grace take:  Self-reliance or dependency?

Which path will You take?

Tom Libertiny

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