Thoreau was writing at a time of rapid industrial development. Communication was speeding up, railroads were connecting people to distant places, and society was developing structures of dependence and control. As one of the transcendentalists, Thoreau saw the virtues of a life lived without the influence of this development encroaching on it. In this sense, he was one of the first to engage in a discourse of a sort of DIY. Most of us today feel just as he did before he went to the woods, and we have quite a lot to learn from what he experienced there.