We designers are natural born tinkerers. Though our projects extend well beyond designing physical products, we are most at home when working with our hands. Tinkering is the ultimate problem-solution mash up mode. It's how we think.
Political philosopher turned motorcycle mechanic, Matthew Crawford, testifies to this phenomenon in a recent piece in the NYTs entitled (you guessed it) The Case for Working With Your Hands. Here's a sweet bit about iterative process and physical feedback:
The work is sometimes frustrating, but it is never irrational. And it frequently requires complex thinking.In fixing motorcycles you come up with several imagined trains of cause and effect for manifest symptoms, and you judge their likelihood before tearing anything down. This imagining relies on a mental library that you develop. An internal combustion engine can work in any number of ways, and different manufacturers have tried different approaches. Each has its own proclivities for failure. You also develop a library of sounds and smells and feels. For example, the backfire of a too-lean fuel mixture is subtly different from an ignition backfire.
Get your hands dirty and read the whole piece here.