The State of Knife Collecting on the Web

Editor’s note: This message is too important to make bite-sized. The topics addressed in this report include, the importance of the web to us, the history of collectors and the web, the state of our hobby on the web today, and our future, in addition to several major online projects I’d like to see developed that are pretty cool.

The State of Knife Collecting on the Web Today

Beginner

Geek Rated: Beginner

Have you ever heard the business axiom, “Don’t be so busy working in the business, you aren’t working on the business”?

If you haven’t, it simply means we can’t be so caught up in the day to day, we fail to plan for the future.

We must be constantly planning for the hobby of knife collecting too. Planning on ways to expose our hobby to non-knife collectors and positioning our hobby so they should want to get involved.

Why do I say this? Well, for several reasons, some positive and some negative. The ugliest one is this- if we don’t, we will become a hobby of old folks who collect relics of the past that no one else can relate with, or cares about.

The flip side of that is this- we have a worthwhile hobby. A progressive pastime that is fun and rewarding! Yes, it connects us with our past, but it also provides a vehicle for connecting with the future and other collectors!

Reaching Out

There are several avenues we can use to expose folks to our hobby, but the web, and all it has to offer, is the single best vehicle to reach others. Millions of people are online every minute and how best to capture their attention than through the web.

Years ago, it was through radio, then it was TV, but today it is the Web, which is almost free.

The State of Knife Collecting on the Web Report- January 2009 is meant to keep us focused on “working on the business.” 

Some may say, “The national, state and local knife collector associations/clubs and manufacturers are the ones to do this. That is what they exist for. It is not my job.”

I disagree. It is our responsibility, because we make up the associations. The associations are me and you.

Change happens fast today

For the most part, we have about caught up with using the web technology most folks use today. But change is rapidly and continually taking place….so we can be fine today and then be totally out of touch tomorrow.

While there are different types of knife and collector resources online today, that has not always been the case, as the knife collecting world has been slow to get online.

Quick look back to 2002

eBay was the hottest thing on the web, having gone public 4 years earlier. The knife collectors who were online then jumped on board.

Also, eBay helped to drive online knife research as folks wanted to research the items being auctioned.

In general, I was frustrated with the lack of information online for collectors and for those who wanted to check out our hobby. There were “knife sites,” but they were mostly advertisements for knives for sale, and provided little information.

In early 2002, I wanted to see knife collecting develop a stronger online presence (I wasn’t simply taking about the NKCA putting up a better website either). Out of frustration, I wrote a 122002knifeworldltreditedresizedforweb2letter to the editor of Knife World trying to stir up the Establishment and the knife community. 

Fast forward to June 2004

Two years later, little progress had been made. I knew we could attract new collectors if we could just establish a better online presence. Collector sites needed built showing the passion and joy for the pursue of all things that go cut. We needed the world to see this wonderful hobby. It would benefit them as new collectors, in addition to increasing new collectors to the industry.

So, once again I turned to Knife World. I wrote The Evolution of Knife Collecting. I was surprised they ran the story because it had no knife pictures and the only two pictures were of a website. It was a little geeky and was not your typical KW story.

In this article I shared the positive effects of the web on our hobby. I encouraged collectors to build websites as additional resources for new collectors and shared my experience of building ElephantToenails.com.

I also described the wireless world and how it would benefit knife collecting, but we still needed to establish a greater online presence. 

Then 2004 through 2008

Over the next four years, more knife collectors joined the online ranks. New collectors joined too and many of these collectors were web and computer savvy.

Knife forums; non-eBay online auctions; collector sites; knife portals, like Knife Web Guide, came on strong. Manufacturer’s started providing collectors good content on their sites.

Internet users starting using RSS Feed Readers (news aggregators). Podcasting became in vogue with the introduction of the Apple iPod in late 2004. For the knife industry, however, podcasts only started being used as tools to share audio content online in 2008.

One of the most interesting developments was YouTube. In 2006, Google paid $1.65 Billion for this “website.” Today, YouTube has turned video sharing into one of the most important parts of Internet Culture. It has singlehandedly facilitated a new forum for the new generation of knife collectors too.

During this time too, knife folks started using the most popular Social Media, like MySpace and FaceBook. These sites establish and foster communities with common connections, through friends or hobbies. A few knife collectors, and even a couple of knife companies, are active there now, but knife collectors, in general, are slow getting involved here- probably because the knife forums meet this need for them today. 

But we aren’t just an exclusive social club. I’m not advocating proselyting, but almost…we are either going to grow by bringing in new members, or we will slowly die. We can either use the web to help us grow, or to just club around.

We can start using “new” websites and innovations to help introduce others to our wonderful hobby. We have to force ourselves to learn to use these new mediums as they come online.

A subculture of knife collectors has already formed outside the “knife collecting industry (NKCA, CKCA, etc).” The youth of YouTube “get together daily” and talk about the knife vids and reviews. They are a community very few of us are an active part of….and the Knife Establishment isn’t a part of it at all! 

Also, during 2008 a new type of website for knife collector news was launched. Its format is highly searchable and the site is very dynamic, with content changing almost daily. This format is a Blog and one of these sites is Cutlery News Journal!

Where we are today

All in all, the hobby of knife collecting online is coming along.  

The majority of the changes within the hobby are taking place at a grassroots level. As new technologies are introduced, there are enough collectors online now who try it out in order to determine if it offers our hobby anything. We don’t wait on our associations to hire a CTO (chief technology officer) to probe, test, poll, or request budget allocations.

We might not get others to follow, but we are on it and that is the first step for us to stay abreast of the changes coming our way.

What about tomorrow

Where are we going over the next four years? What about 10 years?

Honestly, I don’t know. I can tell you YouTube and Knife Collectors are going to continue to enjoy a growing relationship. More and more knife folks are checking it out and are joining the community there too. We must stay plugged-in over there.

We still need collector websites. We need more knife company history too. We need online catalogs of the knives produced by each manufacturer.

These resources are going to come from us- the collectors, so find your passion and share it.

As we go forward, the web is going to become even more interactive. For now we have audio and video, but over the next few years, who knows. The web is becoming virtual.

Major online knife projects I’d like to see.

Online Knife Museum

I would love to see a virtual knife museum built. I’m not talking about a website with pictures here, instead it would be a 3-D virtual museum. 

Virtual buildings are being built in Second Life now. Second Life is an online,  3D virtual world imagined and created by its residents.

Here we will have the history of all manufacturers, sectioned by Country. Each Country will provide is cutlery history, including the manufacturers and their history.

avnetmuseumJust imagine- virtually walking up and touching a picture hanging on the wall and a video plays. Or you touch a knife on display and are presented with a 3-D model image, in addition to several actual photos of that knife. From there you click “Maker History” to learn about the knife manufacturer, as well as a link to the other knives it made. From there you could even be presented an option to join or start a collector community for that knife, pattern or maker.

Yes, it will take some coordination. It would need to start with American knives and then we could solicit other countries to participate and contribute. The ideal thing is for it to be built in a virtual world, like Second LifeHere is one to compare to.

Make a Virtual Knife

We could have another area in the virtual museum where the visitor could Make A Knife– either based upon designs of a custom maker or an early American cutlery firm. Sounds far fetched? Don’t be surprised to know the technology already exist and is used in the Tech Museum of Innovation. Change handles, blades, colors or shields. You want an easy open? No prob.

Site Plan

Site Plan of Virtual Museum

Virtual Knife Show

And while we are in Second Life, we need to build a knife show location.

The virtual Knife Collectors Show Superdome for dealers, collectors and exhibitors of all kinds. It would be open 24/7 and include every knife type made- customs, antique, tactical, current productions, and all the others.

Virtual communities are now (and are wildly popular). Knife collectors, as a group, haven’t jumped into this world. But who is to say, in four years, we won’t be attending virtual knife shows. We will need a virtual body (avatar). I want to be Job Case or Harvey Platts. 🙂

In fact, the next knife collecting generation has grown up playing video games and are playing multi-player virtual games now, like WOW.  They could easily be the ones who develop this virtual Knife World, if we don’t build it sooner. 

Online Knife Catalog

Something we could do right now is to assemble and display all known types of knives ever made in an iKnifeCatalog. The knife images will uploaded from collectors. The knife images will be organized by maker, pattern and handle materials. 

Just imagine how comprehensive the library of knives would be with collectors contributing the images from their knives. 

 

Report Summary

We must be prepared to change. To learn. To try new things. It will probably mean getting out of our comfort zone. Otherwise, we’ll be stuck with email, forums and eBay.

I simply want us to stay up with the times and keep moving forward by using the tools the web offers. The next 5- 10 years are very important to our future, as technology becomes even more a part of our everyday lives.

I know our hobby is fun because of the people, and not the computers.

But the web offers us the window to attract new collectors. And frankly, we need the next generation to become an active and engaged fellow hobbyist working alongside us.

Also, let us not forget- we are ones to make it happen. 

Scott King 

January 12, 2009

Identify your passion and find a new way share it online.

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. In the words of the author “This message is too important to make bite-sized.” and I couldn’t agree more. Hopefully someday there will be web sites like ElephantToenails.com for other patterns of knives and virtual knife shows/museums and other on line resources mentioned in this article. The internet can, and must be, a big part of the future of knife collecting lest we be left in the dust and largely forgotten by future generations to carry on our beloved hobby. The W.R. Case Collector’s Club (to name one) is doing their best to recruit Junior Members, but unfortunately this is not enough to replace the aging members selling off and the good men I’ve seen pass on. The web offers a chance for awareness that must not be overlooked.

    Ebay? Another can of worms entirely. Several years ago I was able to buy some rare and valuable knives at very, VERY low prices on ebay. Why? Not as many people knew to look for knives there and sellers were simply looking to clean out inherited items they had no use for. Those days are gone and now, to the dismay of many, ebay is today’s marketplace. Ignore the “Buy it Now” price and you’ll find out the market value of a knife. The huge downside is that one simply cannot handle the knife and feel the “walk and talk” of it as we would all like to. For that, we can only take the seller’s word and hope for the best. Still, the internet has changed knife collecting forever, good or bad, and we must live with it. Caveat emptor!

  2. Elvis
    I’m still watching and studying eBay. Been active there for a long time and still formulating my opinions and observations- both from an auctioneer’s and a collector’s perspective.

    Thanks for your comments on the message of the report. I didn’t intend to make is so long, but I needed to say it. And while it may not be obvious, I spent 5 hours on that post.. writing/rewriting/rewriting.
    Scott

  3. Scott,
    I think you raise some interesting and valid points regarding the need for our hobby to adopt and adapt new technology as it develops and evolves. I don’t think, however, that there is any substitute for one on one personal interaction when it comes to developing interest in knife collecting in the youth of today.
    I recently ran a thread on AAPK asking members how they got started collecting knives. Nearly every person who responded said they had a dad, uncle, friend or other person of influence in their lives who collected knives and sparked their initial interest. Several of the respondants were young folks in their early twenties or younger.
    I don’t mean to dispute what you have written here, but I think you may be putting the cart before the horse as far as spuring interest in the young folks in our hobby. Once a young person begins to develop an interest in the hobby of knife collecting, by all means, yes, provide the technology to support the interest in this hobby in format they are familiar with and can relate to. But first you’ve got to get them interested. For that there is no substitute for hands on, face to face interaction.
    For this hobby to continue to grow, it will be necessary for those of us who are involved to be willing to pass on a knife or two to the young folks we know and are close to and to be willing to show and share our collections and our passion for the hobby with them.
    I have a nephew who is becoming a knife collector and he doesn’t even know it yet. Guess what his uncle gave him when he graduated high school. That, in my opinion, is how this hobby will survive and grow, one kid at a time being influenced by someone who loves and appreciates knives.
    I have a little phrase I coined that sums up what I think draws most of us to the hobby;

    Knives are more than metal and bone.
    They’re about who we are,
    And the people we’ve known.

  4. philco
    I agree the one-on-one is another way to get folks interested.
    And is a very effective approach too
    (kinda like disciplining).
    The challenges to this approach are-
    1) the disciple has to want to be a disciple,
    2) know and or find a youth to disciple, and
    3) disciplining requires a lot of time and energy.

    Yet, still a very good point!

  5. Thanks for the mention of Knife Web Guide.

    A little history about KnifeWebGuide.com:
    The Knife Web Guide™ was started the last week in October 2000 and the first version of the Guide was debuted on CutlersCove.com site the first week of November 2000. The second version which is current went up Dec. 5, 2004. The Guide’s domain name KnifeWebGuide.com was registered on Oct. 20, 2000.

    The KWG has over 150 pages including 78 alphabetical Theme-Categories and the Knife Article Library™! We have a search feature on the Guide so you can go through the over 2400 listings fast and get to what you are searching for quickly.

    List your site in KnifeWebGuide .com for the return of a link.

    Byron Rogers Founder and Director of KnifeWebGuide .com


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