[NetBehaviour] Survival Scrapbooks.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon May 1 12:45:52 CEST 2006

Survival Scrapbooks.

BySimon Yuill

The Survival Scrapbooks are a series of six books published in the 
early-1970s covering different aspects of autonomous living from a 
practical perspective.  Several authors contributed to the series, often 
with additional input from others.  The titles in the series, and their 
authors, were:

volume 1: Shelter, 1972 - Stefan Szczelkun
contents: different forms of wild, mobile, or simple-to-build 
accommodation including caves, hand-made tents, wooden huts, and vans.

volume 2: Food, 1972 -  Stefan Szczelkun
contents: ways of harvesting rainwater, small-scale farming, poaching,  
growing mushrooms, as well as advice on nutrients and different forms of 
diet, and fresh air as food.

volume 3: Access to Tools, 1973 - Dave Williams and Stephanie Munro
contents: a directory of books, resources, organisations and where to 
buy tools for farming, building, publishing etc.  Each entry includes 
some small example of useful information to illustrate it.

volume 3 1/2: Play: Ways and Means, 1973 -  Pauline Vincent and Ann Winn
contents: different play and self-made learning activities "for kids, 
parents, teachers, anybody".  These include textile and paper making but 
also recycling junk, basic photography and electronics and, according to 
the subject listing, the "mastery of elegant insults".

volume 4: Paper Houses, 1974 - Roger Sheppard, Richard Threadgill, and 
John Holmes
contents: a detailed instruction guide to building geodesic domes from 
paper and cardboard, including how to make the paper.

volume 5: Energy - Stefan Szczelkun
contents: various DIY energy systems such as wind turbines, waterwheels, 
bio-gas, and home-built solar panels, but also a section on psychic 
energies.  Includes maps of naturally available energy sources (such as 
wind, water, wood) in Britain and the States.

The books were published by the Unicorn Bookshop in Brighton, with some 
titles re-printed in the States by Shocken.  It started as an ongoing 
project and other titles were planned, such as one on squatting, one on 
communications and publishing, and one called "Cracks in the Earth" on 
what to do when "attacked by teenage vampires from Outer Space" amongst 
other things.

The styles of the different authors vary, as do the format of the 
books.  Szczelkun's titles were all published with punch-holes in the 
pages so they could be removed from their cover and combined with other 
material in a ring-binder.  The sections are each printed in a different 
coloured ink (purple, blue, red, brown, orange, etc) with a coloured 
strip and graphic icon in each outer edge to make it easy to flick 
through and find stuff.  The texts are hand-written and a variety of 
different visual styles are used in the illustrations, including 
drawings by Clifford Harper, photographs, Victorian etchings and 
newspaper clippings. "Access To Tools" follows the format of the Whole 
Earth Catalogue, lots of compact boxes of information on each page a bit 
like the classified adds in a newspaper.  This also has page-holes for a 
ring-binder.  The other two books depart from this.  "Paper Houses" is 
more like a conventional instruction manual with step-by-step diagrams 
and photographs, whilst "Play" is printed in landscape format typical of 
school activity-books at that time, although it is also the most 
visually intense with tons of drawings, photographs and pasted texts 
cramming the pages.

The scrapbook idea and ring-binder format utilises a particular form of 
information system that has a loose structure, and is intended to be 
re-edited.  As such it is typical of many of the experiments with the 
book format that were explored in its day, and which led towards some of 
the structures that now characterise online publication, such as the 
Wiki.  Classic examples of such texts are Ted Nelson's "Computer Lib" 
(1974 and 1975), Marvin Minsky's "Society of Mind" (from early 1970's 
onwards), and the Whole Earth Catalogue (1968 - 1998).  Whilst volume 3, 
"Access to Tools" is clearly a British version of the Whole Earth 
Catalogue - it's title is the slogan from the Catalogue's cover - there 
is also a shared set of themes between the Catalogue and the Scrapbooks 
as a whole: both share a strong influence of Buckminster Fuller's ideas, 
evident in themes such as knowledge as a tool, social-ecological 
systems, shelter, energy, and geodesic domes.  In this sense they are 
equivalent US and British statements of early-1970's counterculture and 
alternative living.  They differ in that most of the Scrapbooks provide 
more detailed explorations of particular topics, rather than general 
compendiums of knowledge. They also differ in terms of their textual 


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