Filmmaker David Lynch has a YouTube series where he recently discussed making his own iPhone holder. The purpose seems to be to use the iPhone as a camera and attach it to a tripod. He admits at the end that you can buy similar devices and that they are probably “better” than the one he is making. Yet he is persisting with making his own clunkey, wooden iPhone holder.
Of course David Lynch is an artist and can do whatever he wants with little of the sort of scrutiny the rest of us would receive. I’m sure if I were making something like this and showed it to people they would politely mention that you can buy such things, and buy them cheaply. But this is where it hits closer to home: I often buy and repair things in ways that might not appear to make sense.
First we need to ask what is “sensible”. Sometimes I do things for the experience. I was going to use the word “joy”, but much of the time it isn’t joyful. Sometimes you can save some money. I recently fixed a broken sprinkler pipe. Had never done it before and it may have saved me $100, maybe more. On the balance my time and effort, depending on how you count it, was worth much more than what it would have cost to pay someone else to fix it.
So why do such things? I would say for reasons Mr Lynch omits, perhaps not accidentally. Once you have built a thing you “own” it. You understand exactly how it works. You can make another one, or make a better one. You can start to understand the pieces that attach to the thing, in this case the iPhone on one end and the tripod on the other. Lastly, you can get exactly what you want. I am dabbling with a home lawn sprinkler controller. There are several available, but none that I really like. I can build what I want to work exactly the way I want. Even better, as my needs or wishes change, I can change my design, fix it up without having to trash the old product then replace it with the shiny new one., that might still not be exactly what I want.