Friday, May 15, 2009

Misinformation highway part II

Well, one post isn't enough to cover this subject-maybe two posts isn't enough, either. Anyway , I'm sure that the folks who started the forums for discussions about framebuilding never intended to create such a hershey-highway of verbal effluent but these things have a way of taking on a life of their own. Call me old fashioned but I thought the forums were a super good idea for exchanging useful and proven information. Unfortunately the forums are pretty much about 10% of what I think they should be-the other 90% is a pissing match between the following fractured factions: # 1, the pros....the few, the proud, the ones who actually make a living building frames every day....sometimes too many days in a row. This is the group that has the most to give , even if some folks aren't willing to take them seriously. # 2, the genuine 'Fake pros" These are the folks that have the appearence of being fulltime and probably do spit out a number of quality units, show up at the shows and have a nice website ...but.....maybe the wife has the real money job and/or the folks helped set up a trust. These guys might be really good at what they do but they don't have to do it to pay the rent. # 3, the serious hobbyist. These guys know how to build and might make some really pretty stuff but they don't know the fulltime gig at all , even if they come off like seasoned pros. They have insight and experience but since they do this for fun, they have no concept of the practical aspects of making a living building frames. # 4, the guys who just built their first frame. These are the ones who not only have the questions, they appreciate the help. They might not be pros and their experience is limited but they are the ones most excited about the process. # 5, The guys planning on building thier first frame. These guys do a lot of reading and scouring the net for information. They may never use this information, they might not even buy their first file but that dosen't keep them from chiming in often to express their opinion on the subject that they really don't know jack about. #6, the guys who have not built a frame, won't ever build a frame , never intended to build a frame but out of some mental sickness want to lurk on these forums and stir up shit with strong opinions about all sorts of stuff they know nothing about. This might be the biggest group on the forum, at least they have the largest presence. O.K., these are the groups but there are subgroups as well. Among the pros are the classic guys, folks that build in the lugged timeless style of their predecessors. Funny, these guys might build in the same fashion but a lot of them don't get along. Framebuilding is that way, strong opinions abound and things can get personal.....don't ask me why, I can't figure it out to save my life. Another group are the " Let's build in whatever style works for a given situation" . These guys are pretty low key for the most part as they don't care how you build a frame, long as it is a safe to ride quality piece of machinery. Not much excitement in this group, just a bunch of working stiffs. A lot of the purists who aren't pros hate these guys......go figure. It's the net again, the land ruled by the opinion that trumps the fact , nearly every time. Narrow mindedness and dismissal of any sound form of building is a declaration of ignorance. Ignorance is a declaration of stupidity. Stupidity is the barrier to enlightenment. Burma shave. So as a result of these strong opinions , we framebuilders are broken up into various factions rather than uniting into one strong group. The Handmade bike show was and is an attempt to get us all together but even it has taken on a bit of excusivity with the requirements and various back-slapping that seemingly cannot be avoided in shows that involve any kind of craft. My feeling is that if we continue to fracture, we will stay right where we are, a struggling group of skilled craftspeople, always one short step from going under. This was really obvious when I went around at the Handmade show and did a headcount of fulltime builders, you remember group # 1 ? I think out of 150 plus exhibitors there were around a dozen. We are indeed hanging by a thread.......maybe we should learn to get along.

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