There are two types of people – those who refuse to classify people, and those who put everyone into some sort of category.
Here, we are going to strip everyone of their individualism and insist that they place themselves into one of eight ranked groups. These rankings reflect the degree to which an individual is engaged in do-it-yourself activities.
Sometimes, literary sources can be just as schizophrenic as the authors writing about them. Such is the case here. Reading http://www.dictionary.com/browse/do-it-yourself one finds that the phase do-it-yourself is “has its origins in 1950 – 1955”, at the same time that it is used “as a modifier, attested by 1941. The expression is much older.” Depending on what “much older” means, one might be able to call it a mid-20th century term. It relates to amateurs, and is defined as “the practice or hobby of building or repairing things for oneself, usually in one’s own home.”
Class 0. User
This class of person has no role in the acquisition of an object, but in some manner of speaking has that object thrust upon them for their use.
Class 1. Shopper
There are two operative words that distinguish a shopper from a user. The first is that the shopper selects the object. The second that she pays for it.
Class 2. Assembler
Here one is entering the “flat-pack” universe. Ideally, an assembler can follow instructions, so that the object ends up looking and functioning as intended.
Class 3. Hacker
The primary characteristic of a hacker is her ability to modify an object, especially in terms of appearance or operation.
Class 4. Constructor
It is at this level that fabrication skills become important. Craftsmanship is a term often used to describe the necessary skill sets. Since the start of the new millennium, many have seen computer programming as a new form of craftsmanship. For further details, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_craftsmanship
Class 5. Prototyper
Experimentation is a key word to describe the activities of someone in this class. Engineering is not an activity that leads instantly to nirvana. Vague ideas ha ve to be fleshed out. Proposed solutions have to be tweaked, teased and tinkered with. The results are not always beautiful.
Class 6. Designer
Once engineering is complete, product design can begin. While many think of aesthetics, ergonomics is also an important consideration. With design work completed, batch and other forms of small-scale production can be used to make a limited series of objects.
Class 7. Manufacturer
The preliminary step before large-scale manufacturing involves real-world testing. Not everyone will treat an object as delicately as its designer. Thus, it is important that insights be gained into how an object will be used, and misused. There will be few amateurs at this level but new opportunities are arising through programs such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
An inspiring real world example
Cedar Anderson’s work over a decade developing a revolutionary bee hive shows just what can be done. World class innovation, performed by amateurs. See: https://www.honeyflow.com.au/ especially the Flow Story.