It seems like everyone these days is developing an app for their business or product – download the app to your smartphone, and you can carry books, lectures, and blog archives with you wherever you go. Most apps simply streamline content that’s already available on a website for easy, one-stop access on the little screen of your phone. This can make information easier to get at and use, especially for the ham-handed among us. And that, I suppose, is a valuable thing.
I'm sure we were Googling something important here.
It’s interesting to think through the progress of our smartphone technology since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007 – really, just a few years ago. Think of all the changes that have come about since then through the universalization of these things. Remember the days of riding your bike to the park (helmet-free) and taking that scratchy shortcut through the bushes behind the library, dodging traffic and neighborhood dogs, jumping curbs and flying down hills way too fast, but making sure you were home before dinner? Nowadays, people are nervous if they accidentally leave their phone at home for a trip to the grocery store, 1.3 miles away. On the flip side, I in my hand (hefting phone for emphasis) now have access to thousands of years of human experience and accumulated knowledge – with the touch of my finger I can communicate across the globe, exchange commodities, literally alter the goings-on of life on earth or access information in a way that the kings of old would have envied (or considered black magic). Technology has been described in some respects as a type of wealth, and in terms of having the ability to “make things happen” with our wealth we each might possess more gold, so to speak, than Nebuchadnezzar. But mostly, we kill time with mobile games.
All that to say, we should be wise about how we use this stuff (or how it uses us). Approached with care, apps and smartphones and digital devices can improve the quality of life to some degree. Misused, of course, they can do damage. We see this everywhere. The more powerful the technology, the more potential for misuse and disruption. So be careful. Pay attention.
How has digital technology changed (for better or for worse) your practice of woodworking?
A few months ago, Cody Lamens, developer of the Furnitology app, reached out to us to see if we’d be interested in sharing our video courses on his platform. Furnitology is a family-run app (those terms seem incongruent, but they’re actually true here) focused on pulling together furniture makers from all over the internet and making their content available in one place. Cody is passionate about this work and has spent the last several years building the app. He and I had a good long conversation about what inspires us, what he hopes to do with Furnitology in the future, how our families are doing – you know, genuine human interaction. Very unlike what many of us have grown accustomed to in the digital realm. It was refreshing.
The app features a woodworking blog roll, a YouTube roll, a forum, project plans, toolmakers, links to woodworking supplies, and (as mentioned) Furnitology now features woodworking courses. So far, our Apprenticeship: Foundations and Tables courses are available there, with Greenwood and our other offerings soon to follow. Also on tap are several courses from the Austin School of Furniture – with many more to come in the future. The app is free to download and use – you only pay for the courses you decide to purchase. You can find it in the Google Play store as well as the Apple App store. It’s worth checking out.