Via Daddy Types, here's a column from Wired and a 2006 article that influenced it. The topic for both is the pleasure of actually working with your hands, but the older article is writing about the decline, and the newer column is about the resurgence of maker culture.
My personal take is that these things come in waves. The Art and Crafts movement was driven by reaction to the industrial revolution and a desire to return to personal craftsmanship. The maker movement is the same reaction, but to the information age.
Mary, I particularly think Rob might like these articles, as they get into the difference between engineering that happens entirely in the computer and engineering where you sometimes get your hands dirty..