The Origins of Cool Tools

Next week (on February 5) I’m going to discuss the ancient origins of Cool Tools with Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand. Brand started the Whole Earth Catalog as a periodical mail order catalog almost 50 years ago in the late 1960s. Aimed at young maker types living on communes trying to re-invent civilization, his catalogs recommended and reviewed handy tools for that job. The Catalogs, in many versions over the years, were a big self-publishing hit; millions were sold. I worked on and published later versions of this book, and this experience was the genesis of the Cool Tools website and its recently published superbook.

When Stewart Brand first opened a copy of the brand new Cool Tools book he exclaimed “It’s the Catalog, only better!” He said he’d love to discuss the contrast between the two publications — Cool Tools and Whole Earth. On February 5, 6pm PST, Stewart and I will talk about the early DIY movement and its connection to today’s Maker ethos. The conversation will roam from building domes on communes to building domes at Burning Man, from user-generated content on newsprint to user-generated content on blogs. From soft basket making to software making. One hour of deep reflection on unleashing amateur enthusiasm.

Our venue will be the experimental webinar platform, Shindig. The idea of Shindig is to create a virtual conference space where an unlimited number of people can both listen to a conversation as well as potentially participate. Stewart and I will stream our conversation from my studio in Pacifica, CA. Readers and the audience can view the conversation from a free account of Shindig. Any viewer can “raise their hand” with a text question, which our moderator will queue up. We’ll answer live on the video stream as many questions as we can in an hour. Half Reddit AMA, half Google Hangout on Air, the technology might be twitchy. Stewart Brand and I will give it a go.

See you at Shindig, February 5, 6pm PST.

-- KK