Cool Tools

Tools that really work!

Starfrit Can Opener

For many years, technophile author Kevin Kelly has traded gadget and gizmo recommendations with friends.

But unlike many in the tech world, Kelly isn’t obsessed with the latest, slickest gadgets. A best-selling technology writer and a former editor at Wired magazine, he is more concerned with objects he or his friends have used, sometimes for many years, and found to be the best of their kind.

Earlier this year, Kelly gathered his recommendations, and those he received, into a weekly mailing list, Recomendo. Kelly then added them to his Cool Tools website, which is steadily building an enthusiastic audience.

Cool Tools is a refreshing antidote to the hype that surrounds the latest hot gadgets. Unimpressed by newness for newness’ sake, Kelly is attracted to objects that have withstood the test of time — and is passing those ideas on to others. It’s a habit he learned while editing and publishing the Whole Earth Catalog, the bible of counterculture do-it-yourselfers who wanted in “tools and ideas for the 21st century.”

Kelly’s eclectic interests — he’s a former photojournalist and a cycling nut — ensure the site’s material is always delightfully unpredictable. There’s quite a lot of tech, of course, but Kelly is as likely to highlight a book about raising chickens as an FM transmitter for the iPod.

So, alongside recommendations for a great inkjet printer, is a rave for an overlooked book about Japanese hot springs, or a paean for cheap gel pens. And because many of the recommendations come from Kelly’s friends and list subscribers, they are passionate, personal and touching. Kelly has just self-published some of the contributions in a book, Cool Tools.

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