Much has been said elsewhere about The Toaster Project, which I’m really pleased about! I’ll not try and reproduce it here, except to answer some questions and criticisms (which for the most part are totally welcome).
So, firstly, yes, I realise toasting bread over a fire would’ve been a lot easier. But was a piece of toast (or designing a better toaster) really the point of this project?
Secondly, yes I realise I cheated quite a lot! Though I really did naively set out with the intention of only using pre-industrial tools and methods, I soon realised that a) it was impossible, and b) by taking things like trains, or using wikipedia, or even not making my own shoes for walking to a mine, I was already in a sense ‘cheating’. In the end my view is that it’s the cheating rather than slavishly following the rules that make the project more interesting, and lead to discussions of questions other than whether it’s possible to make a toaster alone.
Thirdly, I now know about the essay I, Pencil, written from the perspective of a pencil ‘as told to Leonard E. Read’, and I think it’s fantastic!
There is a book of the toaster project, published by Princeton Architectural Press, and which has Japanese and Korean editions!
The ancient original site for the project is here: www.thetoasterproject.org.
I also did a TED talk about the project, and it’s been watched over a million times. Yowser.