BN.com Gift Guide

The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great [NOOK Book]

Overview


Having completed her transition from a manufacturing economy, America – it is said – has stopped making things. When there are breakthroughs in engineering and design, it’s usually thanks to a team of corporate researchers trying to squeeze out more profit. But once upon a time, the United States was a nation of tinkerers. Amateurs and professionals alike applied their ingenuity and talent to the problems of their day, coming up with innovative solutions that at once channeled the optimistic spirit of America ...
See more details below
The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$14.99
BN.com price
(Save 44%)$26.99 List Price

Overview


Having completed her transition from a manufacturing economy, America – it is said – has stopped making things. When there are breakthroughs in engineering and design, it’s usually thanks to a team of corporate researchers trying to squeeze out more profit. But once upon a time, the United States was a nation of tinkerers. Amateurs and professionals alike applied their ingenuity and talent to the problems of their day, coming up with innovative solutions that at once channeled the optimistic spirit of America and kept that spirit alive. Guided by the curiosity of an inquiring mind, a desire to know how things work, and a belief that anything can be improved, they laid the foundations for the American century.

When Alexander Graham Bell beat Thomas Edison to the invention of the telephone, Edison fiddled around with the transmitter and receiver until he produced an equally revolutionary machine – the phonograph. When Thomas MacDonald observed the hardship that a lack of good roads imposed on his fellow Iowans, he began a road-building project that eventually morphed into the interstate highway system. Some of the people profiled in this book attended the finest engineering schools in the world; some, like Microsoft’s former chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, had no formal training in their chosen fields. Some see themselves as solo visionaries; others emphasize the importance of working in teams. What binds them together is an ability to imagine new systems and subvert old ones, to see fresh potential in existing technologies, and to apply technical know-how to the problems of their day.

In The Tinkerers, Alec Foege presents a version of American history told through feats of engineering, large and small. He argues that reports of tinkering’s death have been greatly exaggerated; since World War II, it has been the guiding force behind projects from corporate-sponsored innovations (the personal computer, Ethernet) to smaller scale inventions with great potential (a machine that can make low-cost eyeglass lenses for people in impoverished countries, a device that uses lasers to shoot malarial mosquitoes out of the sky). Think tanks and companies have recognized the benefits of tinkering and have done their best to harness and institutionalize it. But as systems become more complex, budding inventors may become intimidated. Foege argues that this would be an enormous loss to a nation that achieved its strength largely thanks to the accomplishments of its innovators. He shows us how tinkering remains, in new and unexpected forms, at the heart of American society and culture.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Prompted by his experience repairing a broken smartphone, journalist Foege (Right of the Dial) investigates the tradition of tinkering: a type of free-form technical exploration that is fundamentally different from goal-oriented invention or corporate R&D. Foege argues that tinkering is particular to American society, sometimes produces revolutionary innovations, and has recently become more difficult as manufactured products become harder for consumers to modify, and institutional research becomes more centralized and tightly controlled. Notable tinkerers, Foege suggests, include the founding fathers, Thomas Edison, and modern icons of invention like Dean Kamen. Though these stories are mostly positive, Foege notes that for the financial industry, the tinkering mindset may have exacerbated the 2008 financial downturn by creating complex derivatives that weren’t well understood. In the book’s most thought-provoking sections, Foege considers the relationship between individual and collaborative tinkering, and how parents, schools, investors, and societies can foster the necessary mixture of curiosity, confidence, and opportunity. Although its depth is limited, this anecdotal exploration will be appreciated by readers interested in the quirky origins of technological advancement, and may inspire support for the next generation of unpredictable, revolutionary innovators. Agent: Paul Bresnick, Paul Bresnick Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Anyone who is interested in innovation in the U.S. today and the challenges to continued success in innovation will find [The Tinkerers] a worthwhile read.”
—Chemical & Engineering News

“[The Tinkerers] provides a fine and lively discourse on the art and finer science of ‘tinkering.’”
—Midwest Book Review

“[Foege hopes] to inspire people to incorporate more of the tinkering mindset into their everyday lives—and the lives of their children.”
—American Scientist

The Tinkerers is both tribute and rallying cry…. [The Tinkerers] is an intriguing look at America’s clashing cultures of individualism, capitalism, and creativity, one that poses valuable questions.”
—San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review

“An easily read, entertaining and enlightening book about the prototypical American tinkerers whose curiosity and creativity have brightened all of our lives.”
—Post and Courier

“Alec Foege explores the United States’ tinkering heritage and then follows this perpetually cutting-edge endeavor to present-day America showing the value of an age-old means of bringing new ideas to the marketplace.”
—Roanoke Times

“[A]n entertaining, easy-to-understand, engaging tale…. You can’t help being fascinated by some of the details [Foege] uncovers…. The Tinkerers grabs your attention from page one, and doesn’t let go until the end.”
—USA Today

“[Foege] shows us how tinkering remains, in new and unexpected forms, at the heart of American society and culture.”
—Boing Boing

The Tinkerers by Alec Foege is a highly worthwhile read on the extraordinary history, impact and revival of the American tinkerer spirit.”
—Book Kvetch

“An enthusiast’s book about enthusiasts…. [A] kaleidoscopic view of the myriad forms innovation can take. Alec Foege’s book is a useful contribution to understanding our era.”
—Nature

“Foege still believes in tinkering, and so should we.”
—Fortune.com

“At a time when domestic manufacturing is in decline and the national mood is somewhat grim, Foege makes a case that a return to tinkering might show us the way forward.”
—New Yorker, Page-Turner blog

“An easily enjoyable read.”
Goodreads.com

“Thought-provoking”
Publishers Weekly

“A celebratory exploration of American tinkerers and the spirit of innovation that moves them....[a] lucid meditation on innovation….[Foege] effectively argues that real tinkerers need their own space and the freedom to fail….tinkering remains a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century….laudatory history mixed with a provocative treatise on creating neat new things.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Once you acquire the tinkerer’s mindset, as described in Alec Foege’s engrossing book, the world becomes a gigantic spare parts bin, inviting you to become a creative participant, rather than a passive consumer, in your manufactured environment.”
Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief, MAKE

“Tired of all the over-hyped, same-sounding books on ‘innovation’? Here’s a smart, fresh, fascinating take on why ‘tinkering’ is such a deep part of American enterprise—and how it is fundamental to shaping our economic future.”
Alan M. Webber, co-founder, Fast Company magazine

“For anyone who likes to question, pull things apart, and put them back together, this book is for you!”
Tiffany Shlain, Filmmaker & Founder of the Webby Awards

“Making and hacking is being completely obsessed with a puzzle that shares its solution with everyone once it's solved. The Tinkerers explains that "Making" isn't something you just "do," it's a mindset. You look at the same world as everyone else, filled with the same things, things that are assumed to do just one thing or what we're told they should do—but you constantly ask yourself ‘what else can I make this thing do?’”
-Limor "Ladyada" Fried, Founder & Engineer, Adafruit Industries

Kirkus Reviews
A celebratory exploration of American tinkerers and the spirit of innovation that moves them. Thomas Edison may be the most famous tinkerer of all, but as former Rolling Stone and People contributor Foege (Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio, 2008, etc.) points out in this lucid meditation on innovation, invention alone is a far different thing from tinkering. Tinkerers grab things that already exist and find clever ways of making them better or putting them to uses never before imagined. To illustrate his point, the author looks at great American tinkerers and finds that the compulsion to tweak existing technologies in unique and exciting ways is a hallmark of the American experience. Tinkering today, however, does have its challenges. For one thing, technology is a lot more complex than it was in Benjamin Franklin's day. Most people simply do not have the technical knowledge necessary to access the computerized world of virtual tinkering that predominates much of modern-day engineering. That wasn't the case in the past, when "gear heads" had far more tangible materials with which to work. Then there's the problem of the corporate state. Foege finds that it is choking truly creative inspiration in favor of immediate financial gains, and he effectively argues that real tinkerers need their own space and the freedom to fail. Coming up short is how tinkerers ultimately succeed. However, tinkering alone isn't a virtue; there's a dark side as well. In addition to Edison, readers also learn about the not-so-great men (and women) found tinkering in places like the military industrial complex and financial services industry - and how they almost brought the nation to its knees with their harebrained ideas. Still, tinkering remains a force to be reckoned with in the 21st century. Mostly laudatory history mixed with a provocative treatise on creating neat new things.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465033454
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 1/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 597,205
  • File size: 342 KB

Meet the Author


Alec Foege is the author of Right of the Dial: The Rise of Clear Channel and the Fall of Commercial Radio, Confusion Is Next: The Sonic Youth Story, and The Empire God Built: Inside Pat Robertson’s Media Machine. A former Rolling Stone contributing editor and People magazine senior writer, Foege has also written for the New York Times, New York Spin, Playboy, Details, Mediaweek, Adweek, Vogue, American Lawyer, Variety, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)