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Darrell Markewitz Rants on Social Media Culture

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Darrell Markewitz of Wareham Forge has some rants about social media culture and the culture of turning everything into a side hustle before you have learned the craft on his blog https://warehamforgeblog.blogspot.com/search/label/comentary  I miss the open Internet too, and it was really important for people in rural areas or stuck at home, but all I have energy for these days is keeping up my sites and behaving in ways which make sense to me.  And haven't we all told ourselves that we are wasting too much time in front of a computer and should get up and make something?


I notice quite a few thoughtful sword people like Maciej K pushing back against ideas from shows like Forged in Fire, but it feels like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon.

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3 hours ago, Sean Manning said:

but it feels like bailing the Titanic with a teaspoon.

which only works if everyone pulls together :ph34r:

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I can't think of anyone sensible who boosts ideas like "a good sword should be able to chop down a 3" tree without damage!" but for random people on the Internet to push back against a giant, well-funded media machine is not a fair fight!

There was a period when YT wanted a lot of "pointy things" vloggers, and then a period when they demonetarized most of them.  A lot of history vloggers are moving to independent sites because mentioning Axis atrocities or showing dead bodies in a WW II documentary can get them put behind an age-restriction wall and hidden from searches.  A three-person media company vs. Google is not a fight they can win, even many of those tiny companies join together. 

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My first instinct was to dismiss this as sour grapes. How ever I have been saying many of the same things for years, I even wrote about it in my column. 

First I will say in hind sight I think  FIF is a symptom not a cause.  The rise and the slow death of most of the forums and then the rise of the facebook smithing groups in there place are just as much a cause as FIF and in fact are also a symptom. 

a little history as I remember it. I started on the early forums back in 96 or so. The rise of early forums like Anvil fire, CKD (latter Knifenet) swordforums Iforgeiron. in the beginning it was just a bunch of like minded wackos. There was a lot of sharing  and teaching going on. Knowledgeable smiths were known , and judged by there body of work and quality of advice..  then they grew and with that growth came the need for moderation. 

Moderation is a difficult thing , it can make petty dictators that suppress new ideas or through inaction give equal weight to the loudest  voice even if that voice is wrong. Very few forums managed to find or keep that balance, (this one being an exception) the nature of the Larger groups is such that they become the lowest common denominator. I watched one group implode and kick out every smith with any kind of body of work in a week (my self included) that group quickly became the ignorant leading the blind. 

youtube has further caused confusion as what gets views is almost never the quality of the information, gaining following is about personality , story telling , and production.  there is great stuff there but it is drowned out and lost in the noise. 

FIF put a small section of our world out into the public eye, but it would never have been made with out the 20-30 facebook groups with 40K followers. It has grown the base of both customer's and interested party's exponentially and with that growth has come problems. Many getting into sales and business to soon, putting out work of dubious quality. flooding the market with noise. Those with out the background or knowledge teaching, in shops that are at best uninsured at worst truly dangerous.

There is nothing wrong with the "experience" class, some one that just wants to make a hook or a knife.  when taught well those classes can lead to a more serious interest in the craft, or a larger appreciation for the work involved and make for a better customer.

The oft lamented flood of new smiths has lead to both good and bad results, yeah use anvil/tool prices are a little crazy but a larger market has lead to an economy of scale  and a lowering of new tool costs. you can buy a brand new anvil for what good condition old anvils were going for 10 years ago, 10 years ago you had all of three or four belt grinders on the market now there are 10-20 really good grinders on the market, some costing less now that a Bader cost ten years ago.  The amount of innovation in tools , material, and equipment has skyrocketed with this influx of new makers growing the market. these are great things. 

This reminds me a little of the fine wood world 20+ years ago, when you had the home wood shops just explode, pretty tools of rosewood and polished brass, but also rapid innovation of saws and other equipment. 

It is important to the craft to talk about these things. to find ways to keep the quality of information available to new smiths high. To be the shoulders of giants that other will stand on. but it is also imperative to remember the other side, the opportunities that these  "issues" represent. 

So often I have heard FIF scapegoated for all the ills of our community many times by those same smiths making a good portion of there living teaching classes. I hear complaints of no one respecting the old guard of smiths (mostly in the blacksmithing side) but there is no effort to sell them selves or even to do some basic marketing.. other then through  groups and clubs like ABANA..  that drive new smiths out with there unwelcoming dated attitudes.  


just a few thoughts on this 


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I look at kind of the "flipside" of that too.

It was one of the things that led to me leaving the IFI forumn.


The eventual disappearance of forging altogether- on a non-industrial level.


Thirty years ago, 60 years ago... you'd have to find somebody to apprentice to. You'd have to scrounge and look for tools to use in your home- vs ordering them off Amazon. 


Times have changed. People have changed.

Many at the IFI site looked down on the new guy coming in and asking a "newbie" question without doing his or her "fair" amount of research or reading.


I got chewed out for using the term cement to describe refractory.


Well- its not regular cement... yes.

But it comes in a powdered form, it gets mixed and set with water, and it can be cast or troweled into place.

As a new comer- is that not the definition of cement?


I later in the post explained the difference, and named brands... but that wasn't good enough to overcome my galling ignorance.


Oh, yeah... my point.


Its a new electronic- information based accessible world.


If you intend to keep a tradition alive, you have to know how to teach it to newcomers. You have to understand that they- as 5yr old kids... have already been exposed to much more information and technical know how- than us older groups were by age 12 or 20.


You have to cede to that change, to reach and interest younger generations in learning this art.

Curmudgeonly attitude won't cut it.


They'll go back to the Playstation and forget it... without immediate results, or instant gratification of an idea... the game will win every time.- it doesn't give them crap back.


Just my thoughts.



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Posted (edited)

There are some things where the videos of the smartphone era are very helpful.  Today we can watch people in Turkey or Pakistan who practiced a craft since childhood practice it!  We don't have to learn everything from other amateurs or old books.  Without videos we might still believe that medieval helmets were raised like coppersmith's work not squashed by teams of beaters or trip-hammers.  But I also find that when I want factual information from the Internet, its usually either a site by a major institution, or an 'early web' site or forum.  FB etc. are useless as places for finding information or having conversations with knowledgeable people.

Edited by Sean Manning
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On 4/17/2021 at 9:05 PM, Welsh joel said:

I got . . .Oh, yeah... my point.

This sums up IFI to a tee.   (or should it be 'T'? I apologize for my ignorance...:P)

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On 4/17/2021 at 3:04 PM, Matthew Parkinson said:

with that growth came the need for moderation. Moderation is difficult...

As with everything in the natural world.


But with a lot of things, it's difficult because it's good for all.



Edited by billyO
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17 minutes ago, billyO said:

Moderation is difficult...


For the record, you guys are very easy to deal with.  VERY little moderation is required, mostly because of the real name requirement (even if you do use a pseudonym).  We're all about openness and honesty, and it shows. B)

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10 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:


For the record, you guys are very easy to deal with.  VERY little moderation is required, mostly because of the real name requirement (even if you do use a pseudonym).  We're all about openness and honesty, and it shows. B)

I find that maker communities online often feel right for me.  Maybe because to make something good with your hands, you have to accept the limits of your skill and your knowledge?  And its hard to slip into 'all talk and no action.'


The social media era does fund people like Tod or Dimicator do to cool research that academic institutions won't fund and rich patrons won't fund.  But I don't think that the personalistic kind of marketing which social media reward is right for me or for many of the makers I respect.

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