[iDC] The craftsperson

Ken Wark warkk at newschool.edu
Tue Jul 7 17:02:34 UTC 2009

"To do good work means to be curious about, to investigate, and to learn from ambiguity."
Richard Sennett, The Craftsman, Yale UP, 2009, p48

Its a learned book, as one might expect. And appealing. Who would not want to find value in the ethos of the craftsman? Who -- apart from the managers themselves -- finds anything appealing in the rigid, quantified, competitive model of managerial 'excellence'? 

But I'm curious about the books' great ambiguity. Sennett makes mention of how Nokia's crafty approach to learning and development led to its lead in cellphone design. Yet there's no mention of the labor of actually making cellphones. Industrial labor as a whole shrinks down to a quote from Marx or two. 

In short, much as I admire Sennett, pragmatism once again shows its hand as the art, or rather craft, of reflecting on the given world view of the middle class.

McKenzie Wark,  Associate Professor of Media Studies, Eugene Lang College and the New School for Social Research

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