The thread connecting Tatjana van Vark and Alexander Selkirk

A few days ago, a Hacker News post discussed the incredible work of Tatjana van Vark, a mechanical engineer known for her handcrafted machines and artifacts, which are among the most beautiful and intricate in the world. Among the comments on this post, one person raised an interesting concern about the potential fragility of our civilization. They wondered if our reliance on automation and mass production has led to a decline in skilled craftsmen, posing a significant risk to society if those few experts at the top were suddenly unavailable.

In response to this, I pointed out that channels like Primitive Technology highlight the complexity of creating even basic survival tools and the chain of dependencies required to acquire the necessary skills. The increasing difficulty of separating from society and thriving independently underscores the importance of cooperation and collaboration within our global community. As more aspects of our lives become automated, it becomes even more crucial for us to work together and protect the “hive” that is our civilization.

Reflecting further on this topic, I was reminded of the story of Alexander Selkirk, a man who was marooned on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific Ocean for over four years. When Selkirk was finally found and rescued by an expedition led by Captain Woodes Rogers, the captain was not only amazed by Selkirk’s physical endurance but also by the peace of mind he had attained while living in solitude.

Captain Rogers’ observation about Selkirk’s experience is worth remembering: “One may see that solitude and retirement from the world is not such an insufferable state of life as most men imagine, especially when people are fairly called or thrown into it unavoidably, as this man was.” In a world where automation and mass production seem to be diminishing the need for skilled craftsmen, stories like Selkirk’s and the work of artisans like Tatjana van Vark remind us of the importance of preserving and valuing these unique skills. While we may not all be able to create intricate machines or survive alone on an island, recognizing and appreciating the talents of those who can will only serve to strengthen the hive that we all rely on.

This post was spell-checked and edited for clarity by a LLM.

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