Several months ago, I thought I'd try my hand at submitting something to Popular Woodworking for their End Grain Contest. As it turns out, I should have just posted my first try here. The articles that were selected should be great reads, and I can't wait to get the magazines in the mail to check them out. I haven't given up hope for a published article though, it just seems that I'll need a lot more practice before anything I write is actually readable (and without a toilet joke). So, if you are inclined toward self torture, feel free to check in from time to time and watch progress happen! The article I wrote is below if you care to give it a quick read.
World Wide Woodworking
I had a wise college professor once tell me that using the internet as a research source for a scholarly paper was a bit like losing a large diamond into the sewer. “Sure there is a beautiful diamond in there,” he said, “but in order to find it, you must first wade through a flowing river of poo.”
Fortunately, a lot of well informed and dedicated individuals have made great strides toward providing legitimate web based content since my ill fated research paper. Unfortunately, these newly formed gems of knowledge are still often adrift in the murky waters of spam, unrelated sales pitches and hilarious cat videos. For better or for worse, the woodworking community has not been immune to either of these trends.
Woodworkers, as a genus, seemingly tend to lean toward the punk rock style of life; a rebellion through doing-it-yourself. Well, maybe not punk rock, per se, but definitely DIY. I have watched woodworkers fashion some of the most ingenious, beautiful, and incredible things out of ‘ye olde lignum.’ I am consistently surprised and humbled by the raw talent and creativity so many woodworkers possess. This DIY mentality is one reason the web has become such a perfect blank canvas for people who love to make things. From photo and video sharing sites, to personal WebPages, blogs, and chat rooms, woodworkers have found another medium with which to create and share amazing things. New advents in social media technology have made it easier than ever for anyone to share their work and experiences.
I have found that as a rule, amateur and hobbyist woodworkers love to share. We share techniques, tips, projects, disasters and sometimes even precious, beautiful tools. Prior to the advent and popularization of the internet, much of this sharing was done strictly through periodical publications, textbook instruction, local woodworking clubs, and of course, at grandpa’s knee. In the initial twenty or so years following the first email (sent in 1971), the world began its sordid love affair with the digital word. The early 90’s saw further developments and mainstreaming of chat rooms (started in 1980), and commercial email systems. Woodworkers, of course, grabbed at this opportunity and with splintered and band-aided hands began to bang away at their keyboards to do what they do best…er… second best, share.
Today, a woodworker in California can help another in England achieve that perfect Greene & Greene cloud lift without ever having to leave home, and all in real time. Techniques and design concepts can be taught with streaming high definition videos shot right in the workshop, a benefit to the growing number of young people affected by the slow extinction of shop class. Anyone with access to a computer can upload, download, and digest information faster than a three minute dovetail.
Like watching Venus emerge from the sea, I love finding a good online video or article about someone making something beautiful floating amidst all the other distracting rubbish. I occasionally find myself agreeing with that salty professor’s view of the internet, but I also feel that the more diamonds people are willing to flush, the easier they will be to find.