I’ve been thinking about what Steampunk has to offer the world besides being another quaint subculture, particularly in light of the fact that it’s about to step over the line of subculture and into trendy nonsense that will inevitably bring with it hoards of pipe clogging band waggoneers.

What I’m really interested in is the Victorian enthusiastic amateur inventor/scientist part. The way I see it, most of the worlds problems – poverty, hunger climate change etc.- will never be effectively addressed by a top down, high tech research and loads of investment capital approach. Rather, I imagine that any progress that will have any real effect will have to be of the sort that a self educated person can make in their garage.
There’s been a lot of debate about weather or not all the Steampunk case mods etc. are legitimate as they don’t actually use steam, aren’t real Babbage engines or whatever and I think that’s pretty legitimate although it also misses the point.
Which is that steampunk is really an art movement. It doesn’t really have any cultural agenda such as the original punk movement did and it’s certainly not interested with making steam age technology “useful”.

I would like to propose that were there to be some sort of a Steampunk cultural ethic it should be in taking that amateur inventor approach to modern technology with an eye to addressing the issues that humanity faces today.

Oh, and it should of course be done in such a way as to exemplify quality workmanship and ostentatious ornamentation.

Full Discussion at White Chapel.