the crypt

    --IMO the trouble is that *none* of these new forums (fora?) are as easy to use or to read as usenet. I've still got a jones for shell (using
PuTTy and tin), because it shows things you don't get to see in web-based communities, like degree of divergence of thread. And of course there's the wonderful killfile, heh. On the web if it ain't moderated you're subjected to every jerk's whims which really messes with the signal to noise ratio. Bottom line: I really think that the robotics world would find, and flock to a web-based forum that had usenet-like utility, but so far...
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : I can make damn near anything
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : ...except money, sigh.
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But if the forum existed, then it would be implemented by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Then the information would be diffused again.
Mike

the
to
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    --Well yes and no; you'd be amazed at how many web forums have gotten it wrong! Yahoo springs to mind.. ;-)
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : I can make damn near anything
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : ...except money, sigh.
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Well, it's not just robotics. For many years I was an avid reader of comp.graphics and its subsequent subgroups. Early on, there was a plethora of good activity, spawned in part by the lack of adequate textbooks and information. Back then, comp.graphics formed the center of a community of computer graphics people who were interested to learn and share information.
Now, it too, is basically a wasteland.
It's not that there are fewer graphics wizards out there, or even that they are any less motivated to share their knowledge with others: it's simply that there are different, better forums for this kind of exchange than newsgroups. Let's face it, most of the questions asked on groups like this have been asked and answered many times before. But the netnews mechanisms simply do not provide the kinds of search capabilities that would enable people to weed out these redundant threads. The web, for all its many problems, does. Yes, it's less conversational, but it can be more informative, and combined with the ability to display graphics and video media, it simply becomes the preferred way to talk about things.
    Mark

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Mark VandeWettering wrote:

But isn't this what Google and similar usenet archives do? I regularly check usenet posts through Google when I'm researching. Some people use Google (or another Web-usenet gateway) to post usenet messages.
In Google's case, the messages can appear threaded, and the search mechanism is far better than what you'd find with phpBB, UBB, or their ink. So I'm not sure this is the reason for the decline in usenet posts. I rather think there is a decline *everywhere*, probably because there are more resources to choose from, and only a finite set of eyes. In another post Mike hits it on the head: there is a bifurcation of robotics and people are gravitating toward the resources that best fit their needs. C.r.m. is a general purpose group.
-- Gordon
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I've been lurking here for the last year or two, but while my robotics hobby has stalled, my intent to pick it up again remains. I've actually been welcoming the slowdown because I just don't have time to keep up with such a busy newsgroup.

I lurk in comp.graphics.algorithms, too (and I used to read 4 or 5 other graphics newsgroups, since I was working full time on that stuff and it really counted).

I'm curious but a bit behind the times, so would you mind telling me what these better forums are?
I just wanted say something to encourage those of you who are still active here to keep up the good work. It's certainly appreciated by me, even if I don't always say anything. It's somehow comforting to know that when I do start up my projects again there'll be someone around to help me with the many obstacles I'm sure to encounter.
- Owen -
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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

That and other interests keeping me occupied.

Observation from the trenches. It used to be that when you proposed a book to a publisher, you researched any competing titles, so that the publisher could A) judge the overall market before adding their title to the mix, and B) ensure that your book was unique. Today other books on the subject are but a footnote. In writing a book, you have to keep asking yourself if what you're writing about hasn't already been hammered to death on Web sites. People have more choices.
There are other means to teach. Example: A well-scripted JavaScript-based 555 demonstrator can take the place of a chapter in a book on designing various types of timers. Accompanying explanatory text can be concise, and "readers" walk away with a hands-on grasp that a book alone doesn't provide. People might even may for such a demonstrator, though the more likely business model would be Google advertising, or similar.
Whole segments of books genres make little or no sense these days. These include "circuit scrapbooks," which were popular in the 60s to 80s. The quality of the designs notwithstanding, what you can't find on the Internet, someone makes available in a CD collection you can purchase for $5 at the swap meet.
This doesn't mean the information is no longer sought, but that the traditional methods of providing the information have been supplanted by other approaches.
-- Gordon
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mlw wrote:

Actually, there are "howto" books that do quite well. Much of the success of any howto book is the age of the topic, which means how likely the information can be found somewhere else. Amateur robotics is a mature topic, even as new things are developed. So, books on robotics won't do as well as a book on something that is new. MAKE magazine's compilation books on making geek gadgets are doing pretty well, for instance -- any Amazon ranking under 10,000 usually points to a book that is making money for its publisher and author(s).
In the ideal world, you want a printed book that is self-discoverable by readers who enter a bookstore to browse, because there is a section of the buying public that still does not use online resources to buy things. This book, in turn, leverages a Web site where you can upsell readers with additional product, or cross-sell with ads, or whatever.
Some years ago, Fatbrain (since sold to IDG, which changed its name to Hungry Minds, since sold to Wiley) would publish and sell online content, specializing in technical topics, including robotics. Other than one or two success stories, most of the "books" didn't sell a single copy. The problem was (and is) in marketing; the effort to sell a virtual book is much harder than most publishers and authors are willing to invest.
As you alluded to, a printed book is its own marketing and advertising, and still represents the easiest way of getting something sold. The author sells it once (to the publisher), and the publisher sells it just a handful of times (to the product buyers of bookstores; over 50% of all bookstores in the country belong to one of two major chains). The bookstore puts the book out on display, and readers do the rest.
Books haven't been made irrelevent, but for authors -- especially for books on more mature topics -- the traditional writer/publisher/bookseller model may not provide the financial motivation it once did. It's much more of a packaged deal these days. Authors pretty much have to brand themselves.
-- Gordon
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