The internet has been with us for a few years now and has developed in many ways in that time, especially in sharing information regarding how to do things.
I’ve been here from the start when surfing the net was nearly as frustrating as waiting in a queue when all those in front of you seem to be taking an age to do the simplest of things. Way back when the connection screeched at you and when you had time to make a cuppa waiting for the page to load.
- So what have I learned in all that time?
- What are the pitfalls?
- What can be achieved?
- Is it possible to gain enough information to change careers?
Let’s start with what there is to learn, I’d say plenty, in fact, there is so much knowledge it can become overwhelming to a point where over-exposure can render it useless. But a key fact is human nature is a driving force behind this and there are many reasons why someone would want to show others, usually for financial gain or to promote something they have to offer. The old adage is ‘no one does things for nothing’ and if their skills are so important to them as a career it would be crazy to share what their uniqueness is with others as it gives them an advantage.
Experts are by definition those with immense knowledge and skill but no expert knows everything or will share that last 20% which comes through years of experience. That 20% is the hardest part to learn but very important when it’s achieved. Some of which are not teachable via a one-dimensional online channel as our senses are more than just sight. Many aspects of learning crafts can only be gained through our own experiences, hence the theory and practical elements are separated. Prime superior skills come through stretching our abilities by undertaking tasks that are difficult.
What you have to understand is why the information being shared may be limited, it’s often basic but never the less it’s a great help when starting a new hobby. Never take what you see as gospel, check out others trying to demonstrate similar things, so be open-minded.
Learn and do, then repeat if possible to cement new knowledge in the mind, and once it can be tackled competently move on to more basics. Once you have these then start doing it over and over again, you just might then start learning that extra 20% that makes it much easier.
There are pitfalls when learning online, especially when listening to the wrong advice, for example, some machining techniques in the USA are very different from the UK and can be very dangerous when emulated by someone less advanced in their skills. Likewise taking advice about old tools from a craftsman who hasn’t had access to the wider user tool market will be less reliable than taking it directly from someone like us. If you want to know about timber and its qualities then a specialist timber merchant is going to know a bit more than someone who has used a small variety, however, there will be guys that have worked with about every type of wood but are probably not online teaching. Knowledge is power and is the basis of many careers and careers make experts of varying degrees depending on their dedication.
What can be achieved by learning from the internet? Well, I’m living proof of what can be achieved by a tradesman, 1998 I’d never touched a keyboard let alone a computer, and this website is my work in design, development & marketing, 70% came through the basics of databases, servers, coding and marketing, I learned online (YouTube wasn’t a big thing back then) whist the last important 30% has been earned over time. It took the will and purpose to sit in one place for many hundreds of hours to get things right, which is especially hard for someone who likes to be active and on the go all day.
The internet changed my career that’s for sure which was hard-earned but involved a lot of traveling away from home. I have my reasons for changing the direction of my life, as do many others who take this step. What I can say is that I made a decision and took the steps needed to change it with the dedication needed to make it happen.
So to sum this article up, just be careful who you listen to online and some people are better than others on specific aspects. Once you have the theory basics it’s important to put it into practice. The internet is powerful if used the right way and very time-consuming if not, taking you away from those dreams. Use your own initiative to question the methods and tools used and use what works for you.
There are many teachers but often those people aren’t usually the ones with active careers in the trades of the said subject!