Academic Research on the DiY Community

My name is Ben Shultz ( and I'm a PhD student in Geography at the University of Tennessee. I'm conducting a survey to further our understanding of innovation and creativity in DiY projects.

I'm particularly interested in creative inspirations, motivations, and level of participation in DiY projects. Many scholars research innovation and creativity, but overlook the incredible richness and quality of innovation/creativity in DiY communities. I'd like to conduct one of very few academic examinations of the DiY ethos and community.

I'd like to invite you to participate in my project by taking a 10-minute survey on the web. The results of this survey are for university research only, and are completely unaffiliated with marketing or other for-profit institutions. All responses are anonymous.

Link to survey:

You can follow the progress of this research at my blog ( where I will post write-ups and aggregated results. You may freely share any of the information posted there.

Feel free to contact me at if you have any questions.

Thank you so much for helping me gather data for my dissertation. I hope to offer you back useful and interesting information on DiY communities once I'm finished.

Ben Shultz
University of Tennessee
Department of Geography

Link to survey:

(Note: Eric Wilhelm has approved this post!)

sort by: active | newest | oldest
1-10 of 15Next »
When I was young, I motivated my brothers to race on bikes round random courses on the farm by using a stopwatch and their split times so that they could beat their previous times so I thought that I could motivate others too.
I "invented" the pulser pump somewhere between 1983 and 1988 and put it in a magazine. Nobody ever did anything about it.
It still amazes me.
A pump with no moving parts, that uses low grade water power (lots of it about but unused because other devices are too costly) public domain for over 20 years and I only know of the ones that I made! So science and engineering refuses to listen to outsiders.
And will NEVER research low grade tromps or tromp/airlift pump combinations.
I am convinced!
If putting the pump online helps some people - great, if it embarrasses those lofty guys that refuse to research it, even better.
Later I did low tech solar research. I figured out the "mechanical mathematician" for making parabolic dishes the low tech way. But no one else ever did it that way either.
Then the low tech clock based dripper trackers. That could be really useful but nobody bothered to repeat it with slightly stronger gears than are found in standard wall clocks. That one could be such a useful device! Not just for solar but for drip drip drip low flow fountains and so much more!
I began on software for solar research back in August or September because I could not figure out how the light was traveling in my "compound parabolic" solar cooker and as usual, my begging never convinced anyone to try it for themselves.
It had to be something easy to use, free and cross platform.
I expected something like "pong" might be available where you could construct simple shapes and bounce balls of light from one surface to others.
But surprisingly, with all the advances in software in 20 years, there was nothing! So that got me looking at blender, and truespace and sketchup and povray. And they were all useless because of difficulty of use and mostly unhelpful people in their forums.
Finally by accident I found art of illusion in January 09 or so. The people there were really helpful!
Even the guy who started it up helped me. It took a while but finally I got to compare my compound parabolic dishes with parabolic and others.
I had to make my own scene files (with great help from the art of illusion community) and it all came together.
I got to prove with software that they do focus the solar rays for longer than parabolic dishes. But It was not as good as I had hoped. A hemisphere is also better than a parabolic dish!
Anyway, after looking at the results for a few days, a new insight hit me and the "kyoto trough" was born. Who knows, perhaps that is stillborn too!
I thought the software for solar design instructable was a fantastic concept but it got zero votes in the epilog contest.
Zero! So, I am lucky people cannot do negative voting!
If the trough does indeed work well,
it will prove that it was a fantastic concept (because I couldn't have seen the patterns without the software)
It is good that other people do help me build but really sad for me that nobody seems to want to build on what I have done or even copy stuff like the pulser pump (one of which worked for over 20 years without repairs).
Rant over. "Many scholars research innovation and creativity, but overlook the incredible richness and quality of innovation/creativity in DiY communities. I'd like to conduct one of very few academic examinations of the DiY ethos and community".
You used the word "overlook" and I think the real situation is much stronger than overlook!

bshultz1981 (author)  gaiatechnician8 years ago
gaiatechnician: That's an incredible post. Would you mind if I used parts of that post in my write ups?
Sure, go for it. Do not forget the bitterness!
is worth looking at for a worse than me perspective.
And read the comments too. The poor guy is a mathematician and has tried to share his idea for 3 decades!
Something is really wrong! I have looked into solar cooking for a few years and only found this 5 or 6 months ago!
caitlinsdad8 years ago
Done, I think is was question #5, online instruction is... was a little hard to read. I think that question after your schooling level was refering to what field of study you had for advanced training? Maybe change that if you want info on liberal arts vs science degrees? Or what vocational training or where did you learn your DIY skills (welding, woodworking, cars/airplanes/boats, etc.) No comment area was provided unless I missed that. I didn't think any of the questions really focused on figuring out what motivates us or where we get our ideas from. You may miss finding out that being a parent or guardian may be the biggest influence or political stance makes us want to "stick it DIY", Some innovation is driven by economic circumstance or the necessity of not having the right gift or to outdo their neighbor. If we had a better focus on what exactly you are trying to ascertain, I think we would be glad to help out. Good luck.
bshultz1981 (author)  caitlinsdad8 years ago
caitlinsdad: Thanks for your feedback. This is the first run of the survey and I'm starting to see where I can improve. I will add an optional comment area at the end so that anyone who wants to leave more information can. I really appreciate your participation. Hopefully I can improve this soon.
And Instructables has a global membership, active members from Australia to Turkey, Southeast Asia, and everywhere else that Google can translate.
NachoMahma8 years ago
. It is not a good idea to post your e-mail addy in public. SPAM! A lot ppl will setup a temporary, throwaway acct at one of the free services (eg, GMail) and use that address in pubic.
bshultz1981 (author)  NachoMahma8 years ago
Hi NachoMahma: I agree with your email caveat. Since it's a university-sanctioned survey I have to be as open as possible about how to contact me, so I want to make sure everyone can. Thanks for completing the survey. I really appreciate it.
If you make an image of your address, say write it in Paint, it can be read by humans but not by spambots.
bshultz1981 (author)  Kiteman8 years ago
Kiteman: Thanks a lot for that suggestion. I will try that. Good point about the different university systems. That's something I had not considered. Thanks for participating!
1-10 of 15Next »