Kevin Kelly’s ‘Cool Tools’ are chockful of turn-ons

by Susan Harris on July 28, 2011

Kevin Kelly was cutting-edge in his youth and with the passage of years he seems to just get sharper.  Highlights of his bio include editing and publishing the Whole Earth Catalog which, to refresh my your memory, is a compendium of the best tools for self-education.  He later co-founded and edited Wired magazine.

Lesser known (to me) products of his free-thinking mind include the All Species Foundation, dedicated to identifying all living species, and the Long Now Foundation, which “fosters long-term responsibility as an antidote to the extremely short-term horizon of most contemporary organizations.”  (Ya think we might need some of that?)  And he’s edited and written a bunch of books, one of which is available for free right here.

Look, Ma, no college!
Kevin freely – nay, proudly – admits that “My educational background is minimal. I am a college drop-out. Instead of going to university, I went to Asia. That was one of the best decisions I ever made.” Elsewhere I found this, written in the third person.  “He is married and has three wonderful children. He was born in 1952. He has no college or university degrees.”  See what I mean?

Then when he returned to the U.S. he traveled a lot more before starting a mail order company called Nomadic Books, selling budget travel guides.  Which ultimately led to those other publishing successes.

To me it’s no surprise that a smart, inquisitive person probably learned much more as an world-traveling auto-didact than he ever could have sitting in classrooms.  (I was too meek to drop out of college myself but at least spent some of it bumming around Europe and picking up enough college credits there to satisfy the parents.)

The story of Kevin’s religious conversion
I was surprised to find this intriguing note tucked away in his long bio:  “On an even more personal note, I told my story of a religious conversion many years ago to Ira Glass, host of This American Life, a public radio series that features long narrative stories…You can find an audio file on the ‘This American Life’ web site. It is the second story on the program called ‘Shoulda Been Dead‘”.  I’ve downloaded it to my iPod already.

Kevin’s Cool Tools and a lot more

Upon entering Kevin’s home page the reader discovers:

  • Two blogs about technology trends (as best I can tell) – Lifestream and The Technium.
  • True Films, which carries short reviews of his favorite “documentaries, educational films, instructional how-to’s, and what the British call factuals – a non-fiction visual account.”  (Hope Netflix has ‘em!)
  • Screen publishing, most of which is beyond me but I DO understand this link to 7 quick rules for e-publishing.
  • Quantified Self, which is “a place for people interested in self-tracking to gather, share knowledge and experiences, and discover resources.”  Honestly, even with that definition I’m left at “Huh?”
  • Street Use, which features “the ways in which people modify and re-create technology.”  I’ll be exploring that one.
  • And finally, Cool Tools remind me of turn-ons, though tool contributors are multi-generational.  Here’s how Kevin explains them:  “As my children began to leave home I wanted to give them each a box of tools and a book containing ideas of tools and possibilities that they might not encounter otherwise. I started to keep a list of tools plus my comments. Some of those reviews appeared in issues of Whole Earth Review a magazine I used to edit.”   The tools cover 41 different categories, everything from crafts to workplace to something called “consumptivity”, most of which I’m unqualified to judge, but gardening tools I know a bit about and you know what?  They ARE cool.  So worth a lot more browsing – or even contributing to.

Hat tip to Steve Brown for turning me on to Kevin’s world.

{ 1 comment }

Stephen Brown July 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Nice link….especially the cool tools and gardening.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: