CNJ Editorial- Just what is a knife collector club? It is time for the question to be asked.

smallmensfashionsturnofcenturyA much talked about topic here at CNJ is how times change. We look at knife history and current events, and oftentimes compare the two. The methods, materials, habits of collectors, preferences, knife companies starting up and closing down, sales and advertising methods, etc. Today, we are fortunate to witness, firsthand, another change and one that started only recently, but will forevermore change the knife industry and knife collecting.

communityvirtualMore and more knife enthusiasts are online today. Some knife folks use the web to further their knife hobby, while others are finding out they are in fact collectors and didn’t realize it, and others still are becoming collectors as a direct result of the web. The phenomenon we’re clearly seeing is all these folks beginning to congregate online too. Yes, they are like-minded in their passion for knives and they are coming together- online.

The online congregating of these knife collectors leads me to one question-

When, if ever, does an online place knife collectors gather become a knife club?

Many of these online places are more than simply posting boards of topics and replies too. I know of one that’s a true social network, much like facebook or MySpace, and yet it is exclusively for connecting knife collectors- creating association between folks who have the common bond of knife collecting. It is a community of knife collectors.

LISTEN TO THIS- I couldn’t believe my ears.

Had a knife friend recently tell me this online knife collector community, and of which I am associated, doesn’t qualify as a knife club. In fairness, what he said was it wasn’t a “conventional knife club.” To me that was a polite way of saying-

“For Pete’s sake Scott, it’s just a website. It’s not even a real place.”

The reason for the conversation isn’t the point here, instead it is his declaration, and he is a known figure in the world of knife collecting. Needless to say, I couldn’t believe my ears.

The way I look at it, which is not totally objective, granted, is what is a conventional knife club anyway? So, you know me- off the dictionary I went. Here’s what I found:

Conventional- “Based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed.”

I’ve got to ask? What difference does it make if a knife club isn’t conventional? OK, then try this on for size- while it is conventional that collectors wear clothes at their meetings, does the fact that one club doesn’t require a dress code 🙂 disqualify it as a knife club? I don’t think so. Also, who’s to say, what is generally done is meeting the needs of the collectors anyway.

soup_and_salad_barsNeeds change. Just because in the old days folks drove 5- 15 miles and ate dinner with their fellow members, doesn’t say, 1) it is still happening, and 2) that constitutes what a club is anyway.

So, what is the significance of “conventional?” Honestly, I’m not sure. So, let’s ask ourselves what makes up a knife club today-

  • Members? Knife folks who have voluntarily joined? Check.
  • Rules? Check.
  • Member communications? Check.
  • Club knives? Surely this isn’t really a qualification of a knife club.
  • A physical location, as in an admin office, or even a meeting hall? Again, don’t think that is a valid criteria and VERY few, if any, would qualify as having a bona fide admin office and/or meeting location they own or rent, like the Elk’s Club or the neighborhood country club. Online clubs do have an address. It’s called a URL or Web Address. So, Check. What else? …..
  • OK, how about- Dues? So, let me ask you, is a community of 800 knife collectors who don’t pay dues any less a club than the typical knife club of 20 members in Anytown, USA who do pay dues? I don’t see it (aside from the fact, the local clubs are having a terrible time recruiting and retaining their members, and even getting some of their members to actually pay their dues).
  • Organizing Knife Shows? Don’t see this as important if the membership doesn’t. Plus, the online community I’m involved in has a 24/7 knife show with over 6000 knives for preview, in addition to knife videos and reviews. So, Check.
  • How about- Membership Activity? About the same- a handful of the members do all the work, don’t they? So, Check. Am I missing anything here?
  • Club Officers? Well, we have an Administrator and it is run more like a sole proprietorship, does that qualify? Sure it does, so- Check.

So, we come back to the real question here-

Is an online place where 800 knife users and collectors have joined any less of a club than a “conventional” club located at a P O Box and using regular mail, or email, to communicate to its members?  The online knife community I’ve been talking about has instant text chat, plus real- time video chat, without mentioning the other many features and benefits of this online community- which is beyond the scope of this editorial.

WRAP-UP: Mobilizing its membership

For argument sake, we will give my friend the “virtual” point, but what about when the virtual knife collecting community provokes its membership to act on behalf of the online community in the real world? Does that change anything? So instead of its members simply sitting behind a key board- they are mobilized?

Recently, I became aware one of members of iKnifeCollector, the online knife collector community I’ve been referring to, ventured out to a knife show. He had a specific agenda other than to buy and sell knives. His purpose was to invite collectors to join his specific collector group housed within the iKnifeCollector online community. So, with invitations in hand, he solicited those attending that show- folks in the real world, mind you…..folks standing right in front of him. This member’s effort is evidence enough for me that iKC, as virtual it can be, is in fact- a very real place. Did I tell you his group is having a group knife made? I didn’t? Well, it is.

This same member actually organized a real meeting, in person, with fellow members of this virtual community. Does that not also tell us something? It does to me. This online knife community is having a very real impact on his and the others lives. Sounds like a “knife club” to me, but again, I’m biased.

CLOSING POINT TO PONDER:

So, as times change and the “based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed” becomes obsolete (not technologically speaking either, but as in failing to meet the needs of the membership), at what point does the new way become conventional, if that is even important anyway?

I have lots more questions, but we’ll leave it at that for today. Love to hear your comments.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.

    If it walks like a knife club… and talks like a knife club…, then it must be a knife club.
    I fail to see the necessity of physical properties of location and dues as qualifiers as a club.

    Let’s not be “Conventional”. We’re an unconventional lot and proud of it.


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