Hoarding Information

When I was working on the new site, my graphics guy asked me, “why is keeping the Tips section so important to you?” The reply was simple: it’s not my information to hoard. Since the beginning of Specialty Outdoors, that has been my philosophy. Competition doesn’t concern me: I would much rather respect and support my professional peers, sharing a few tricks here and there, instead of worrying about whether they might steal ideas or customers. Heaven forbid helping the enthusiastic hobbyist to success with a project!

Here’s why I don’t hoard information. First of all, it’s not rocket science. It’s more a hammer-and-nail scenario. Most of my information I have either found online, in books, or through generous mentors and others willing to answer my questions. They weren’t hoarding: they gave it freely where they thought it could be used, and I do the same.

Sharing information was the very first lesson I learned when I got online back in… 90-something. I ventured onto Usenet, (rec.backcountry) posted my services, and was immediately and thoroughly flamed for advertising on a non-commercial board. Oops. I didn’t know any better as I had read about Usenet in Better Homes and Gardens, of all places. Anyway, some kind soul, and to this day I do not know who it was, emailed me and let me know that the way in was to participate. So I did – advice on repairing gear, cleaning gear, where to find fabrics and other tips, with a one line signature. It has been been fun being a resource, and of course people think of me when it’s out of their comfort zone to do some work.

But – I’m not going to do your homework for you. Please, don’t be lazy as it’s a real turn off. The most common example is someone who wants to do small scale manufacturing, finds me online, and wants me to tell them everything I know so that they can get started. Here’s what I tell them: You need this book. I read it to get informed, and they can too. The author, Kathleen Fasanella, shares her knowledge freely and tirelessly. Don’t email me asking where to get something. That is why there is a sources page!

Kathleen and many others have been great role models  and mentors to me. I am forever thankful, and do my best to carry on the tradition. Thank you to Kathleen, Joe, Judith, Kevin, Patrick, Patrick  and Greg… the range of knowledge you have shared with me has been immense and I am ever grateful.

 

7 thoughts on “Hoarding Information

  1. gabrielle

    Heck yes! 🙂 You’ve taught me so much. Especially how to put a curved zipper in a tent, a skill I just exercised again a couple of weeks ago. Thanks!

  2. LisaB

    Even though I have yet to use your tips IRL, I very much appreciate your sharing them. I know where to look should the situation arise. Thank you!

  3. KayL

    Long ago, when I was fussing on usenet about how to sew the first piece of Polartec I’d ever worked with, you gave me some great advice: “just do it”. So I did, and was astounded at how much I’d fussed over something so easy. I’ve since gotten into the habit of walking into a retailer of outdoor fabrics, asking “what is this fabric and why do I want it?” when I spot something new to me. And most of them are equally cooperative. Thanks, Penny!

  4. ela

    Good for you! I worked at a Boulder-based backcountry clothing factory circa 1972, and saw firsthand both innovation and (polite) design “appropriation”, along with the boom-and-bust of DIY via Frostline et al, and it is crazy to me how the current fad/fashion is “ultra-light” = “uber pricey”, when long ago you simply paid more for more goosedown, or tougher outer cloth. The market is clearly driven by hype and selling to those who think they might someday want to do something outdoors, so cannot abide with last year’s outdated, obsolete item. Inexperience with timeworn designs and materials leaves them open to salespitches which fail to mention that you are occasionally going to get wet, or cold, or hot, or sweaty, sore, and tired no matter how light/hitech your gear is. Suffering minor discomfort and inconvenience is the price traded for rewarding experiences unavailable from the cushy SUV, and that’s not changed with all the tech advances.

  5. Jan Parzybok

    Under “Hoarding Information” may I please use the quote: “you are occasionally going to get wet, or cold, or hot, or sweaty, sore, and tired no matter how light/hitech your gear is. Suffering minor discomfort and inconvenience is the price traded for rewarding experiences unavailable from the cushy SUV, and that’s not changed with all the tech advances.”

    You are a wonderful resource for those of us who try to live full lives and gently on the earth.

    JP

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