Sunday, January 26, 2014

Your Guide to the Weirdest, Most Wonderful Things in the World

by Roberto Baldwin)

To view the galley in full screen to read about these cool tools, click here.

The days of the bulky paper catalog are long gone. But that doesn’t mean a printed version of some of the world’s best tools can’t be entertaining and useful. For proof, look no further than Kevin Kelly’s “Cool Tools” book. This tangible analog to Kelly’s iconic web site (which itself was inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog) features 473 pages of weird, wonderful, and useful products.

What started out as small email list of cool items quickly grew into a blog named Recomendo. Populated with posts from Kelly and his exponentially growing readers, that name eventually changed to Cool Tools. The book itself is a highly curated selection of 10 years of those reviews.

While putting everything together, Kelly, who is also one of founders of WIRED magazine, realized that self-publishing was much quicker than going through traditional publishers. The mailing list and blog were DIY, so why not the book?

The result is something more than just a paper-bound list of awesome objects. It’s a tool itself. Inside, you’ll get tips on various activities and general recommendations, like the best all-around motorcycle to buy (Spoiler: It’s the Kawasaki KLR 650. A solid pick!)

Whether you choose to scan through the Atlas-sized book quickly or take your time and read each item, there’s plenty of great stuff to discover. “You have this ability to zoom in and out very fast,” says Kelly. “When you are looking at these items and subconsciously making these associations, it begins to feel much more immersive and intimate.”

Should you decide you must have something from the book (warning: you most certainly will), each item has a corresponding QR code that lets you scan and buy it directly from your phone. Here are some of our personal favorites.

All photos: Josh Valcarcel/WIRED

Roberto is a Wired Staff Writer for Gadget Lab covering cord-cutting, e-readers, home technology, and all the gadgets that fit in your backpack. Got a tip? Send him an email at: roberto_baldwin [at]

Read more by Roberto Baldwin

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