The Boston Globe has a long feature on steampunk — including a nice little section on the literary roots of the field — that discusses the work of makers like von Slatt, Datamancer, Kaden, i-Wei and other Boing Boing favorites:
“The iPhone might be sleek and well-designed within its mode, but there’s no way it can compete in luxe qualities with some Victorian equivalent,” said author Paul Di Filippo, the first to use the term “steampunk” in a title of a book, “The Steampunk Trilogy.” Steampunk “embodies both handicraft and mass-production elements in a rich visual vocabulary totally lacking in today’s plastic, cheap-jack gadgets.”
These steampunk engineers are also part of a broader surge in the do-it-yourself mind-set, fueled by the sharing spirit of the Web. It was the do-it-yourself spirit that powered the first Apple computers and the early days of the Internet, but much of the technology developed from these things has become a closed system: DRM-protected music, Microsoft’s proprietary nature, even the dependence on single carriers for cable television and cellphones. There is a punk ethos to the social communities of today’s Web, in which users are trying to wrest content away from the marketers and commercial media. But hard technology has mostly resisted this little rebellion. When opening up your computer to hack around a little bit for fun voids your warranty, better to leave it alone until it’s time to buy a new one.