Most social media influencers seem to have overtly effusive verbal diarrhoea when making Youtube videos. The highly competitive and crowded online space means that established and wanna-be cyber-celebs are increasingly becoming more “excited” about vacuous lives and inane topics. What they wouldn’t give for 9 million subscribers and over 700 million views.
They need to stop talking, stop looking at the camera, lose the makeup and glam wardrobe, and build stuff from scratch out in the bush wearing nothing but the same pair of blue shorts in every video. That’s exactly what John Plant, an Australian bloke from Far North Queensland does, and that’s exactly what has earned him the millions of aforementioned followers on his Youtube channel, Primitive Technology.
Primitive Technology is Plant’s hobby where he makes things in the wild completely from scratch and strictly uses no modern tools or materials. His Youtube videos have been around since 2015 and ironically, his use of modern technology in the form of social media earns him close to a million dollars per year in advertising revenue. Take that Insta-famous celebs!
True to form, Plant is now sharing his caveman hobby in another medium without talking. He’s written a book unsurprisingly named ‘Primitive Technology’ giving his fans words and photos as more detailed descriptives about how to build huts, kilns, and furnaces, and make stone axes, digging sticks, bricks, fish traps, and ‘cordage’. While the sub-title calls the book a ‘Survivalist Guide to Building’, it’s unlikely to appeal to ever increasing numbers of ‘Preppers’ who tend to be more obsessed with the use of more modern technology in their quest to survive global Armageddon and subsequent zombie apocalypse.
It’s hard to define why Plant’s hobby has such a huge audience. It may be the appeal of back to basics living as increasing numbers of people reject overt consumerism. Or the satisfaction of watching a project successfully come to fruition. Or Plant’s ingenuity and acumen. It may be that audiences are increasingly dissatisfied with vapid entertainment.
John Plant is smart. His bio tells us that he has a science degree from James Cook University in Cairns but even if you didn’t know that, his inventiveness is obvious in every project he undertakes. And necessity is the mother of invention. As he explains, due to hunting restrictions in Australia, he can’t use animal skins. His clay forge blower is the brilliant result of having to find another way to stoke a fire.
The book is best used as an accompaniment to the videos and vice-versa. The instructions for making the loom, for example, can be a little confusing without watching the Youtube video as well. There’s also a very active Primitive Technology community on Reddit at https://www.reddit.com/r/PrimitiveTechnology/ if fans need some help with, or wish to discuss their own Primitive Technology projects.