Do it yourself (or DIY) is a term used to describe building, modifying, or repairing of something without the aid of experts or professionals. The phrase "do it yourself" came into common usage in the 1950s in reference to home improvement challenges that people might choose to complete independently.
In recent years, the term DIY has taken on a broader meaning that covers a wide range of skill sets. DIY is associated with the international alternative rock, hardcore punk, and indie rock music scenes, indymedia networks, pirate radio stations, and the zine community. In this context, DIY is related to the Arts and Crafts movement in that it offers an alternative to modern consumer culture's emphasis on relying on others to solve needs.
The DIY scene of today is actually a re-introduction (often to urban and suburban dwellers) of the old pattern of personal involvement in home or apartment upkeep, making clothes, maintenance of cars, computers, websites, or any material aspect of living. A comment by philosopher Alan Watts (from the "Houseboat Summit" panel discussion in a 1967 edition of the San Francisco Oracle) reflected a growing sentiment of that time:
Our educational system, in its entirety, does nothing to give us any kind of material competence. In other words, we don't learn how to cook, how to make clothes, how to build houses, how to make love, or to do any of the absolutely fundamental things of life. The whole education that we get for our children in school is entirely in terms of abstractions. It trains you to be an insurance salesman or a bureaucrat, or some kind of cerebral character.
In response to this sort of insight, in the 1970s, DIY spread through the North American population of college- and recent-college-graduate age groups. In part, this movement involved simply the renovation of affordable, rundown older homes. But it also related, to some extent, to various projects expressing the social and environmental vision of the '60s and early 1970s. A young American visionary named Stewart Brand, working with friends and family, and initially using the most basic of typesetting and page-layout tools, published the first edition of The Whole Earth Catalog (subtitled Access to Tools) in late 1968.
The first Catalog and its successors used a broad definition of the term "tools". There were informational tools, such as books (often technical in nature), professional journals, courses, classes, and the like. And there were specialized, designed items, such as carpenter's and mason's tools, garden tools, welding equipment, chainsaws, fiberglass materials, etc. — even early personal computers. (The designer J. Baldwin acted as editor for the inclusion of these items, writing many of the reviews himself.) The Catalog's publication both emerged from and spurred the great wave of experimentalism, convention-breaking, and do-it-yourself attitude of the late 1960s. Often copied, the Catalog appealed to a wide cross-section of people in North America and had a broad influence.
For decades, magazines such as Popular Mechanics and Mechanix Illustrated offered a way to keep current on useful information. DIY home improvement books began to flourish in the 1970s, first created as compendiums of magazine articles. One of the earliest extensive lines of DIY how-to books was created by Sunset Books, based upon articles derived from the pages of Sunset Magazine in California. Time-Life, Better Homes & Gardens, and other publishers soon followed suit. In the mid-1990s, DIY home-improvement content began to find its way onto the World Wide Web. HouseNet was the earliest bulletin-board style site where users could share information. HomeTips.com, established in early 1995, was among the first Web-based sites to deliver free extensive DIY home-improvement content created by expert authors to Internet users. Since the late 1990s, DIY has exploded on the Web through thousands of sites.
In the 1970s, when home video (VCRs) came along, the potentials in demonstrating processes audio-visually were immediately grasped by DIY instructors. In 1979, This Old House, starring Bob Vila, premiered on PBS and started the DIY television revolution. The show was immensely popular and helped grow the DIY industry by educating people on how to improve their living conditions (and the value of their house) without the expense of paying someone to do it. In 1994, the HGTV Network cable television channel was launched in the United States and Canada, followed in 1999 by the DIY Network cable television channel. Both were launched to appeal to the growing percentage of North Americans interested in DIY topics, from home improvement to knitting. Such channels have multiple shows showing how to stretch one's budget to achieve professional-looking results (Design Cents, Design on a Dime, etc.) while doing the work yourself. Toolbelt Diva specifically caters to female DIYers.
Beyond magazines and television, the scope of home improvement DIY continues to grow online where most mainstream media outlets now have extensive DIY focused informational websites such as This Old House, Martha Stewart, and the DIY Network that are often extensions of their magazine or television brand. The growth of independent online DIY resources is also spiking and the number of homeowners who blog about their own experiences continues to grow along with Do-It-Yourself websites from smaller organizations.
For more information, please see DIY ethic
The term 'DIY' or 'Do-It-Yourself' is also used to describe:
DIY as a subculture arguably began with the punk movement of the 1970s. Instead of traditional means of bands reaching their audiences through large music labels, bands began recording themselves, manufacturing albums and merchandise, booking their own tours, and creating opportunities for smaller bands to get wider recognition and gain cult status through repetitive low-cost DIY touring. The burgeoning zine movement took up coverage of and promotion of the underground punk scenes, and significantly altered the way fans interacted with musicians. Zines quickly branched off from being hand-made music magazines to become more personal; they quickly became one of the youth culture's gateways to DIY culture, which lead to tutorial zines showing others how to make their own shirts, posters, zines, books, food, etc.
With the rise of the modern multi-national corporation, North American and European DIY culture has increasingly become a social and political ideology as well as a hobby or fashion aesthetic. Similar to the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s, the modern DIY movement is viewed as a reactionary response on an individual scale to modern industrial society's reliance on mass-production. In response to various large multi-national companies allegedly exploiting labor in developing countries, (such as Gap, Nike, Coca-Cola, and others), the DIY subculture has increasingly been motivated in part by a wish not to support such cruelty and abuse. A common sentiment expressed in DIY culture is to "think globally, act locally," meaning that support of multinational corporations supports exploitative labor and environmental practices, so to create items by oneself or to purchase goods and services made locally in effect boycotts these organizations. In addition, making, recycling, or otherwise following a doctrine of "non consumption" as part of DIY subculture lessens the amount of sales taxes one pays, such taxes being viewed as similarly aiding such morally repugnant institutions as governments which wage war. This view of "consuming less as a political statement" is not agreed upon in the subcultures it is found in, but is a motivating force for many of its adherents.
DIY culture is not limited to hand-making items such as clothing and housewares, but extends to choices of public transportation such as biking and bike repair, walking, building vehicles and modifying existing vehicles. Making and distributing community radio, pirate radio, community television as well as personal internet media.