Clive Thompson on how making stuff makes you a better fixer

"[T]here are some interesting differences in the psychologies of making vs. fixing. I’ve found it’s easier to be daring with fixer projects, because the emotional cost of failure is lower. If I’ve got a busted laptop, why not crack it open? What’s the worst I can do? Break it? It’s already broken! There’s also a sort of puzzle-solving pleasure in fixing, a sense of grappling with complexity. You encounter a lot of mystery that you’ll never solve and just have to live with, which is what makes repair a philosophically powerful activity. You learn humbleness in the face of intransigent reality."

Start the discussion at


  1. starting off as a fixer, i found the inverse to be true.  my ability to repair made me more fearless when it came to mistakes in the things i built.

    1. Yeah, I can see how that would work too! If you’re making something and you mess it up … you know how to set it right.

  2. I’ve been making and fixing stuff for longer than I can remember. They are similar, in that when you make something, you have to fix it about 5 times before it works right. They also both require you to understand the thing that you’re working on to be ultimately successful.

    I agree that fixing has a lower threshold, since you’ve nothing to lose.

Comments are closed.