Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities Info

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Cool Tools is a highly curated selection of the best
tools available for individuals and small groups. Tools include hand
tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices,
gizmos, websites -- and anything useful. Tools are selected and
presented in the book if they are the best of kind, the cheapest, or the
only thing available that will do the job. This is an oversized book
which reviews over 1,500 different tools, explaining why each one is
great, and what its benefits are. Indirectly the book illuminates the
possibilities contained in such tools and the whole catalog serves an
education outside the classroom. The content in this book was derived
from ten years of user reviews published at the Cool Tools website,
cool-tools.org.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.57

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Reviews for Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities:

4

Feb 17, 2015

Big heavy book compiling the best of the Cool Tools website/email-list, which is similar to Edmund's Scientific Catalog; curious mix of cutting-edge Silicon Valley material, hobbies (hiking and travel especially), DIY/Maker, primitivist fetishism, and New Age stuff (yes, including the obligatory Rosicrucians) - very Californian, in other words. You might think reading a giant catalogue of stuff you'll never buy would be boring, but it's not.

While it can't be updated and it's hard to follow Big heavy book compiling the best of the Cool Tools website/email-list, which is similar to Edmund's Scientific Catalog; curious mix of cutting-edge Silicon Valley material, hobbies (hiking and travel especially), DIY/Maker, primitivist fetishism, and New Age stuff (yes, including the obligatory Rosicrucians) - very Californian, in other words. You might think reading a giant catalogue of stuff you'll never buy would be boring, but it's not.

While it can't be updated and it's hard to follow links, the book format is much nicer for browsing & reading than the website because one can instantly shift from item to item without any overhead or action (the colored backgrounds initially seem like a mess but work well for separating entries without using up any space),

On the downside, the reviews often heavily edited down from the Internet versions to save space (even with all the tiny fonts and edits, it's still huge), occasionally out of date (eg Zeo sleep monitors - I love mine to death, but since the company shuttered ~2013, I cannot in good conscience recommend it to anyone), and has a lot of typos.

Offhand, things I've actually started using or bought thanks to CT (book or list): trackballs, LastPass, the "oblique strategies", bidets for toilets. Oddly, I've benefited most from the media recommendations, particularly the nonfiction; thanks to CT, I've watched: Man on Wire, The Cove, Helvetica, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, March of the Penguins, Project Nim, The King of Kong, A State of Mind, & Dead Birds; and read the books: Finite and Infinite Games, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Fadiman's Psychedelic Explorer's Guide, Tufte's Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Chased by the Light, Letters from a Stoic, A Pattern Language, How Buildings Learn, & Peopleware.

Conflict of interest: I was a contributor and got a free copy because I wrote the review of the Compact OED. ...more
3

Nov 22, 2013

Plus: Lots of fun if you are into tools and gadgets, especially if you have a wide range of interests. Recommendations were mostly right on for topics I had researched myself at some point, and I found some good suggestions for things I had planned to look into eventually. Minus: This information is on the Internet. Does it really merit a print book? Yes, the layout is nice and it makes for a nice coffee table book, but something similarly useful could be done online and not be outdated in a Plus: Lots of fun if you are into tools and gadgets, especially if you have a wide range of interests. Recommendations were mostly right on for topics I had researched myself at some point, and I found some good suggestions for things I had planned to look into eventually. Minus: This information is on the Internet. Does it really merit a print book? Yes, the layout is nice and it makes for a nice coffee table book, but something similarly useful could be done online and not be outdated in a second. This is supposed to the "new Whole Earth Catalog." Is it really necessary to relive and reinvent everything from the hippie/counterculture movement? I don't think so. Also, some minor editing errors. ...more
5

Dec 29, 2016

An entertaining collection of amazing and useful tools for everyday (and not) use. I learned so much from reading about these items and my next amazon order is going to make a heavy dent in my bank balance.
3

Dec 05, 2019

I went into this book after hearing Kevin Kelly mention it on a Tim Ferriss podcast. I have been interested in construction and was hoping to be introduced to some interesting tools. Well, I got that and so much more. The book is dauntingly long, with tools, gadgets, or gizmos for almost every part of life.

I would not really recommend reading it cover to cover as I did, it is much better as a reference for a certain type of project you might embark on—read the Table of Contents. Additionally, I went into this book after hearing Kevin Kelly mention it on a Tim Ferriss podcast. I have been interested in construction and was hoping to be introduced to some interesting tools. Well, I got that and so much more. The book is dauntingly long, with tools, gadgets, or gizmos for almost every part of life.

I would not really recommend reading it cover to cover as I did, it is much better as a reference for a certain type of project you might embark on—read the Table of Contents. Additionally, some of the tech-related tools might be outdated at this point; a book of this scope should be updated with new additions to stay current. Nonetheless very informative and applicable to people with almost any type of project in mind. ...more
5

Jan 20, 2017

This is without a doubt the best gift you could ever give a curious, maker minded young friend, neighbour, niece or nephew of all ages.Get a copy yourself too though or you'll stay for ever jealous. Leave it out on your coffee table am no guest will be able to stop browsing.
5

Sep 02, 2019

One of the coolest books ever. It has tools for everything. AND. I. MEAN. EVERYTHING!
5

Aug 23, 2018

Amazing collection of tools.

You just cannot miss the varied possibilities that it unfurls. Perfect bite sized reviews of cool tools. Must have book in your library.
5

Apr 07, 2014

REVIEWS OF THE 1500 GREATEST TOOLS ON EARTH

For over ten years, Kevin Kelly (a co-founder of Wired and an editor of the Whole Earth Catalog) has been publishing recommendations of useful tools on his website, Cool-Tools.org. Using the Whole Earth Catalog as an inspiration, Kevin has collected over 1,500 reviews from his website into a full-color, massively oversized, 472 page catalog of how-to information of immense interest to makers. Kevin’s definition of a tool includes anything that helps you REVIEWS OF THE 1500 GREATEST TOOLS ON EARTH

For over ten years, Kevin Kelly (a co-founder of Wired and an editor of the Whole Earth Catalog) has been publishing recommendations of useful tools on his website, Cool-Tools.org. Using the Whole Earth Catalog as an inspiration, Kevin has collected over 1,500 reviews from his website into a full-color, massively oversized, 472 page catalog of how-to information of immense interest to makers. Kevin’s definition of a tool includes anything that helps you get something done — it could be a website, a book, a map, a material, an item of clothing, a gadget, or anything else that improves your abilities. If you wanted to rebuild civilization after a zombie apocalypse, this would be your guidebook.

The effect of seeing these reviews on large pages (when opened, a two-page spread is 22” x 17”) is remarkable. As Kevin wrote on his site, “There is something very powerful at work on large pages of a book. Your brain begins to make natural associations between tools in a way that it doesn’t on small screens. The juxtapositions of diverse items on the page prods the reader to weave relationships between them, connecting ideas that once seemed far apart. The large real estate of the page opens up the mind, making you more receptive to patterns found in related tools. There’s room to see the depth of a book in a glance. You can scan a whole field of one type of tool faster than you can on the web. In that respect, a large paper book rewards both fast browsing and deep study better than the web or a small tablet.” As a result, Kevin has no plans for releasing an electronic version of the book (and the website is the electronic version, anyway).

When Kevin showed me a copy — airmailed from Hong Kong hot off the press — my mind was blown, just as it was when I discovered a copy of the Whole Earth Catalog when I was a 10-year-old. This is the book I want my kids to blow their minds with. — Mark Frauenfelder

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities
by Kevin Kelly
Cool Tools Lab
2013, 472 pages, 11 x 13.9 x 0.9
$31 Buy a copy on Amazon
...more
5

Jan 10, 2014

A unique and enjoyable book, despite its many typos and errors.

In the spirit of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, Kevin Kelly has produced this great guide to all sorts of things you never knew you needed. It's a big hefty book, full of people's recommendations for gadgets, books, services, websites, and more -- each one something that the person considers a 'cool tool'. In some cases, the recommendations are for one particular brand or design of a common device; of all the _____ out there, A unique and enjoyable book, despite its many typos and errors.

In the spirit of Stewart Brand's Whole Earth Catalog, Kevin Kelly has produced this great guide to all sorts of things you never knew you needed. It's a big hefty book, full of people's recommendations for gadgets, books, services, websites, and more -- each one something that the person considers a 'cool tool'. In some cases, the recommendations are for one particular brand or design of a common device; of all the _____ out there, this one's the best. In other cases, the recommendations are for a gizmo you never knew existed but might appreciate.

I read the book cover to cover (over the course of almost a year) with a pen in hand, circling interesting things like a kid with a toy catalog. The book is full of stuff you want, yet somehow its overall tone manages to avoid crass materialism. Kelly suggests repeatedly that many of these tools are just as good borrowed as owned, and his overall attitude is clearly attuned to sustainability and a recognition that more toys do not equal a better life.

Glad I read it, and I hope Kelly updates it in the future with new recommendations for cool tools. ...more
4

Feb 25, 2015

It's hard to describe what this book actually is. It is presented like a catalog of random things, but as the introduction says, it's less of a collection of product reviews but more of a tool itself. The goal of the book is to get you thinking about stuff in new ways by making you aware of tools you might not even know exist.

Tools, here, are not defined as something you find in the garage (although they can be). Rather, tools are "anything that can be useful." So while I did put a few gadgets It's hard to describe what this book actually is. It is presented like a catalog of random things, but as the introduction says, it's less of a collection of product reviews but more of a tool itself. The goal of the book is to get you thinking about stuff in new ways by making you aware of tools you might not even know exist.

Tools, here, are not defined as something you find in the garage (although they can be). Rather, tools are "anything that can be useful." So while I did put a few gadgets on my wishlist as I read, I also ended up with a lot of new book recommendations as well. And while every page may not be relevant to your interests, every time I walked away I felt a little smarter. The entire book gave me the same feeling I get whenever I come across something random on Amazon and think "wow, I had no idea this was a thing, that's pretty cool," and see that it is rated almost all 5-stars, meaning... it actually works.

If I had to pick one word (I don't... realistically I could go on for 18983 more characters, but whatever) to describe the book, it would be "clever." ...more
4

Jan 22, 2014

What you will not find here are reviews of computers, routers, smart phone, and the like; after all, you have CU,CNET, Lifehacker, etc. for that. What you will find here are well written and certainly always knowledgeable and experiential reviews of pens, mouse traps, good weather sealants, LED bulbs and much more; after all, this large and heavy volume -- don't read in bed even if you could, since if you fall asleep it will crush you -- almost joyfully takes pleasure in telling you about the What you will not find here are reviews of computers, routers, smart phone, and the like; after all, you have CU,CNET, Lifehacker, etc. for that. What you will find here are well written and certainly always knowledgeable and experiential reviews of pens, mouse traps, good weather sealants, LED bulbs and much more; after all, this large and heavy volume -- don't read in bed even if you could, since if you fall asleep it will crush you -- almost joyfully takes pleasure in telling you about the items that won't show up in the usual reviews but are essential to carrying on our quotidian lives. It is well edited, well written, laid out in a way that is at once quirky and great fun. And makes it fun to build up your upper arm/shoulder strength. ...more
4

Sep 08, 2014

This is a great resource for the curious mind in 2014! I have many areas of interest and this book covers many of them. I found especially useful the recommendations for practical day-to-day tools, for example the recommended ergonomic computer mouse and keyboard.

I also enjoyed reading about recommended books for personal finance, vagabonding, games for kids etc.

I borrowed this 4.5 lb book from the library-it was quite the tome to lug home-worth it!

I took off a star because of the New Age lean This is a great resource for the curious mind in 2014! I have many areas of interest and this book covers many of them. I found especially useful the recommendations for practical day-to-day tools, for example the recommended ergonomic computer mouse and keyboard.

I also enjoyed reading about recommended books for personal finance, vagabonding, games for kids etc.

I borrowed this 4.5 lb book from the library-it was quite the tome to lug home-worth it!

I took off a star because of the New Age lean to it. This is a very common feature of a lot of the movers and shakers on the most popular (US) blogs (i.e. Tim Ferriss). ...more
4

Feb 19, 2015

You dont really read this. You browse it, realising that Kevin Kelly is probably the most interesting person alive. At least one of the most interested, if you like puns. EVERYTHING is here. I love how-tos and while this is not an how-to book, it is full of places to start new projects or explorations. Keep it around and check it out everynow and then. A printed book is probably not the best format for this information, but this is not about finding info when you need it. Its about finding it in You don´t really read this. You browse it, realising that Kevin Kelly is probably the most interesting person alive. At least one of the most interested, if you like puns. EVERYTHING is here. I love how-tos and while this is not an how-to book, it is full of places to start new projects or explorations. Keep it around and check it out everynow and then. A printed book is probably not the best format for this information, but this is not about finding info when you need it. It´s about finding it in the future, in your dusty bookshelf. I look forward to that ...more
5

Nov 24, 2014

This is a BIG book full of reviews of "tools" of every sort including online items. Lots of pictures, heavy paper, I think it weighs about 4 lbs. Reviews by the author as well as experts in relevant fields. I brought it home because I thought it was cool but I haven't really had a chance to look at it because my husband and teenage son have been poring through it. It's sort of like a giant catalog of everything you'd ever need or didn't know you needed. Probably a perfect gift for anyone who This is a BIG book full of reviews of "tools" of every sort including online items. Lots of pictures, heavy paper, I think it weighs about 4 lbs. Reviews by the author as well as experts in relevant fields. I brought it home because I thought it was cool but I haven't really had a chance to look at it because my husband and teenage son have been poring through it. It's sort of like a giant catalog of everything you'd ever need or didn't know you needed. Probably a perfect gift for anyone who likes to build things or is into new gadgets. ...more
4

Jun 11, 2015

Sincere effort, but the fact that it was self-published shows in the crowded and occasionally confusing layout, the wildly varying picture quality, and the text itself. Most of the things you'd expect to find in a book like this are in it (including three separate models of Leatherman), as well as, as you might also expect, a whole lot of chaff.
Still, it will undoubtedly have a few solid suggestions that will be new to you, and it's nice to browse through when you're bored, though its size makes Sincere effort, but the fact that it was self-published shows in the crowded and occasionally confusing layout, the wildly varying picture quality, and the text itself. Most of the things you'd expect to find in a book like this are in it (including three separate models of Leatherman), as well as, as you might also expect, a whole lot of chaff.
Still, it will undoubtedly have a few solid suggestions that will be new to you, and it's nice to browse through when you're bored, though its size makes it unfit for bathroom reading. ...more
5

Apr 03, 2014

This is a great book to have lying out on your kitchen table or coffee table, especially if you are an unschooler. "Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities" is a book packed with interesting tools used in a wide variety of fields. The pages are filled with conversation starters, introductions to new interests, and a great way to find unexpected interests your children have. Just leave it out and let your children leisurely flip through the pages and see what they discover! Or read it yourself and This is a great book to have lying out on your kitchen table or coffee table, especially if you are an unschooler. "Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities" is a book packed with interesting tools used in a wide variety of fields. The pages are filled with conversation starters, introductions to new interests, and a great way to find unexpected interests your children have. Just leave it out and let your children leisurely flip through the pages and see what they discover! Or read it yourself and let your curiosity inspire your kid.

Deb ...more
5

Jan 24, 2015

This book is insane. It's a massive catalogue of the coolest tools on Earth for hundreds of different categories. I went through this from cover to cover and managed to find some great tools that would be helpful for me right now but also saw tons of things that could be interesting to use / try sometime in the future. What I really like about this book is that it opens your eyes to the enormous number of different possible things that humans could be doing with their time. The trick isn't to do This book is insane. It's a massive catalogue of the coolest tools on Earth for hundreds of different categories. I went through this from cover to cover and managed to find some great tools that would be helpful for me right now but also saw tons of things that could be interesting to use / try sometime in the future. What I really like about this book is that it opens your eyes to the enormous number of different possible things that humans could be doing with their time. The trick isn't to do every activity and use every tool but that we treat this book as "A Catalog of Possibilities". ...more
5

Nov 21, 2014

This is a marvelous catalog of tools, in the broadest sense of "tools." It is opulently large-format. Will not fit in your bag. I enjoyed reading the thoughtful entries on A Pattern Language and Infrastructure: A Field Guide-- both of these classics are given the treatment they deserve. Oh also, in the cooking section they recommend the complicated rice cooker favored by Mike Williams and Angi Chau. How can a rice cooker have so many buttons?

A lot of people I know would love this book.

5

Mar 02, 2014

It's like the "Whole Earth Catalog" came back to life, only more techy and more attuned to what real people are likely to want or need to do. Both that book and this one serve a dual purpose, at least for me-- they're tools, specifically tools to find other tools, and they're dream machines. If you know you want something (a thing, an experience, a goal, or just to know what you really want), "Cool Tools" provides thousands of prompts that may help. I'm still browsing it and expect to do so for It's like the "Whole Earth Catalog" came back to life, only more techy and more attuned to what real people are likely to want or need to do. Both that book and this one serve a dual purpose, at least for me-- they're tools, specifically tools to find other tools, and they're dream machines. If you know you want something (a thing, an experience, a goal, or just to know what you really want), "Cool Tools" provides thousands of prompts that may help. I'm still browsing it and expect to do so for months to come. ...more
5

Aug 07, 2015

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fun for the crafty, the DIYers, the hobbyists, the techies, campers, and all other life-hackers. Probably used 50 Post-its (one of the cool tools!) to mark items for my new house. (Who knew about quick-disconnect brass water hose connectors? Certainly not me!) Most 'cool tools' are reasonably priced items that provide a lot of bag for your buck, but you wouldn't know existed if not for this book. Not sure how I feel about all the links to Amazon after all the Jeff Bezos revelations, but I guess Fun for the crafty, the DIYers, the hobbyists, the techies, campers, and all other life-hackers. Probably used 50 Post-its (one of the cool tools!) to mark items for my new house. (Who knew about quick-disconnect brass water hose connectors? Certainly not me!) Most 'cool tools' are reasonably priced items that provide a lot of bag for your buck, but you wouldn't know existed if not for this book. Not sure how I feel about all the links to Amazon after all the Jeff Bezos revelations, but I guess since I haven't canceled Prime, I'm just as bad. ...more
5

Oct 23, 2013

This book contains tools and tips for (almost) any endeavor a maker or adventurer may want to pursue. It makes for a very intriguing coffee table book and is fun to flip through for generating inspiration on new projects. The one thing I was disappointed to find is that there is no tool listed for cutting glass to make candles, which is something I’m interested in doing. If you have a recommendation for a glass cutter, please let me know.
5

Dec 30, 2014

Heard about this book on the Adam Savage podcast a few weeks ago and I'm glad I did.

This (giant) book is an excellent catalog of tools I never knew existed or that I needed. It covers everything from familiar "maker" topics like 3D printing and soldering to how to build an igloo and the best ways to structure a PowerPoint.

This is really a great resource for nearly anything. Very happy I have a copy on my shelf, High recommended.
4

Dec 03, 2014

Do you need to know where to get transparent concrete, Amish tools, color-changing LEDS, Japanese woodworking tools and so much more? Neither do I! But that didn't stop me from putting so many bookmarks in this fascinating book that it ended up looking like a hedgehog. Modeled on the old Whole Earth catalog, this book lists favorites recommended by users from all over the world. From the most obscure to the most common, if you need to make something, there's a tool for it in here.
5

Nov 02, 2015

This is the ultimate catalog of inspiration and ideas about humanity's usage of tools to get things done. From the most popular to the most obscure, are all included here. I didn't know I needed these tools until I saw them in the book and their recommendations. One of the best books I've owned in recent memory.
5

Sep 25, 2014

This book is amazing. While I've never seen a copy of the Whole Earth Catalog I'm sure Kevin Kelly and his collaborators have done an amazing job of matching the intent. I've looked closely at only 60 pages and, as a geek of many colors, I'm in love with the collected information. I can't imagine a better coffee table book.

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