There’s a bit in it where Jane says how folk used to be well up for hacking around with the things they owned to make them better – “people are natural hackers, fixers and improvers” as Jane says – but we’ve largely lost a lot of that.
Well, maybe we didn’t lose it exactly, but it eroded under our fingers, as companies decided there were better margins in making stuff you couldn’t fix yourself.
It reminds me of what Adam Smith refers to in The Wealth of Nations, about how a lot of machinery was either invented by improved by the people that worked on them:
“A great part of the machines made use of in those manufactures in which labour is most subdivided, were originally the inventions of common workmen, who, being each of them employed in some very simple operation, naturally turned their thoughts towards finding out easier and readier methods of performing it”
So in the days, weeks and months after the great inventors of the age would deploy their latest devices in the factories, the people who actually used them would be tinkering, improving and inventing new parts for them. Hacking, in short.
I bet they’d have loved a bit of Sugru back then.