The bricoleur is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but, unlike the engineer, he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His universe of instruments is closed and the rules of his game are always to make do with 'whatever is at hand'.... In the continual reconstruction from the same materials, it is always earlier ends which are called upon to play the part of means.... The bricoleur may not ever complete his purpose but he always puts something of himself into it.... from Lévi-Strauss The Savage Mind, pp. 17, 21.
The bricoleur is a term Turkle derives from Lévi-Strauss; it is a postmodern way of designing and working in which the thinker uses objects or simulated objects at hand to experiment with. It opposes the structured approach to progress which is more strategic and ordered. Turkle believes the simulations of the Mac and Windows operating systems draw computer users into the bricolage way of tackling new design projects and new ways of thinking about the world and society and their own identities. She also uses the work of Frederic Jameson to support her argument.
Turkle extends her discussion of the bricoleur [Turkle :52] saying that simulation and "What if?" scenarios nurture informalist ways of knowing. People learn by interacting with simulated objects rather than through logic and calculation. Thus the computer operating system of the late 80s and 1990s suits and even perhaps controls another form of learning and knowing about the virtual world. The 1970s values of hard mastery no longer dominate the world of computers making this world accessible to those with other values.
Soft mastery, as Turkle terms bricolage, denotes a flexible, negotiated, non-hierarchical way of working. It is a style, she says, not a stage on the way to formal thinking and the imposition of will over the world.