State of the Hobby

From: Bruce Lane <>
Date: Thu Jul 1 00:20:42 1999

At 10:20 30-06-1999 -0700, you wrote:

>Classic computer collecting is rewarding on so many levels. And in so many
>senses, we have a collector community relationship that rivals those of much
>more established hobbies. That's why it's so important, as the hobby begins
>to reach maturity, that we not lose sight of our fundamentals.


        While Kai and I might not see eye to eye on matters of Micro$oft, I find
myself agreeing with him pretty strongly in this missive. I would like to
add my own brief comments.

        Yes, I've heard of wonderful machines gone to the dump mere hours before I
learned they were available. Yes, I've had to pass up deals on rare
machines because I simply lack the space or time to give them the attention
they deserve. Yes, I get weird looks and outright questions of "why?" any
time I tell someone that restored MicroVAX systems are running a chunk of
my own intranet.

        I've certainly learned from it. I've learned that I can't salvage every
piece of hardware on the planet, and that I do have a lot of limitations.
And yes, there have been times when I've been guilty of the very
isolationist and elitist attitudes that Kai speaks of. I think we all have.

        The trick is not to let it go to your head.

        I think we're all in this hobby because we enjoy it. We each have our own
areas of specialized knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses, and we've all, I
think, been guilty of sneering at the Windows generation. All I can think
of to say is 'get used to it.'

        Face it, folks: Joe Consumer Just Doesn't Care about what goes on 'under
the hood.' All s/he wants to do is write that letter to Aunt Hattie, or
balance their checkbook, or surf the 'net for a while.

        There will certainly be those who get curious, and want to start knowing
more. Such people may turn to some of us because of this curiousity. The
quickest way to shut them, and what may be a budding interest, down is to
treat them like idiots.

        Remember, many have no idea that computers even existed before PCs: If
they want to learn, the thing to do is get a feel for how much (or how
little) they want to know, and then educate them. Giving too much
information can be just as much of a turnoff as giving too little. Find
that middle ground.

        Face it: Most folks will never understand computer collecting and
restoration, and the subsequent practical use of early machines over the
more modern systems. Second, you cannot teach a person something if they
simply do not want to learn, no matter how important it may be that they know.

        It might go a lot better for us explaining ourselves to the rest of the
world if we simply informed rather than judged. Save the Windows and
"PeeCee" bashing for private get-togethers, however well-deserved it may be
in many cases. If others who are not yet collectors want to learn of the
alternatives to the Wintel duopoly, and the operating systems that drive
them, they will find their way if the knowledge is made freely available.

        We should never have to, nor attempt, to force it down their throats.

        Keep the peace(es). I'll be at VCF this year if anyone wants to have a
brew over this (I like the Spanish Peaks ciders)... ;-)

Bruce Lane, Owner and head honcho, Blue Feather Technologies
Amateur Radio:(WD6EOS) E-mail:
SysOp: The Dragon's Cave (Fido 1:343/272, 253-639-9905)
"Our science can only describe an object, event, or living thing in our own
human terms. It cannot, in any way, define any of them..."
Received on Thu Jul 01 1999 - 00:20:42 BST

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