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    • CommentAuthorRiot_Nrrd
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2009
     
    Nick - I really have enjoyed your books over the past several years, and am curious - have you been doing any more writing lately? Any new things you would consider putting into a book?

    Also, any thougts on teaching again?


    Andy
    •  
      CommentAuthorNick
    • CommentTimeMay 27th 2009 edited
     
    I'm out of the book business, Andy. It is sick and dying; no place for someone with a shred of curiosity, intelligence, or communication skills. It began to die in the 1980s as it was slowly infected by bean counters and the bottom line began to matter more than the quality of the product. For the past twenty years, the governing boards of the major publishing houses have been more worried about paying dividends to shareholders than they have about divising new products to keep their companies vibrant and their customers loyal. With very, very few exceptions they have failed miserably at meeting the challenge of the Internet, the biggest communication revolution since movable type -- quite possibly since speech. As a result, they have begun to drop like flies. You hear about the newspapers going out of business because local newspapers appear (or once appeared) on sidewalk kiosks every day, so you may not be aware that long-standing book publishers are vanishing at an even faster rate. Add to this a vigorous and persistent attack on intellectual property rights by the growing ranks of "open source" proponents (read "Digital Barbarians") and you arrive at the short answer -- no more books. (And, for emphasis:) Ever.

    As far as teaching, my experience at Shopsmith tells me that woodworking schools are yet another endangered business. America experienced a huge cultural shift in 2001, following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, DC. People stopped traveling, and not for just a few months. Many museums that display my airplanes still haven't seen their foot traffic return to pre-2001 levels. The Shopsmith Academy, which had to turn people away in the 1990s, couldn't fill their classes after 2001. My name on the marquee had no effect; the year and a half that I ran the Academy we had maybe 30 students. The only reason that Drew and I survived at Shopsmith for as long as we did was because we hit upon the idea of webcasts. (If the students won't come to you, you go to the students...)

    Before I say "no more teaching," I should probably mention that I am the director of an educational foundation and actively involved in STEM programs for middle-school and high-school students. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The programs that I help design are actually STEMTS -- science, technology, engineering, math, and Tool Savvy. I figure, if you're gonna teach kids to design computers, airplanes, and space stations, you might also want to get them familiar with the skills needed to build them. Otherwise the only use they have for their opposable thumbs is to text, twitter, and hit the space bar now and then.

    As far as woodworking is concerned, the Workshop Companion is it for both publishing and teaching. I know it doesn't yet look as impressive as a shelf with 50+ books on it, but come back in a few years. I'm betting that this web site will help more people, inform more craftsmen, and have a longer life than any (possibly all) of my books.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick
    • CommentAuthorJPG40504
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2009 edited
     
    As an older generation individual I have a very difficult time NOT using printed material. One cannot leaf through nor flip back and forth as easily as with a book! A wide screen computer or with multiple screens - MAYBE but I put that scenario in the same category as the 'mouse'.(a solution badly needing a reason for existence) All this from an early computer advocate!!! I have not seen any keyboardless computer yet!

    PLEASE set this resource up to be attentive to human factors and make using it simple and NOT require a user to be a mindless drone to get at that which they seek! My greatest frustration is with software that when you 'finish' what you are doing from deep within a menu structure getting 'dumped' back at the TOP of the menu rather than back ONE level! One should be able to back up the menu structure just as easily as you traveled down it (and be able to 'hop around' [like a book]). µsoft has yet to understand this!

    Back when I was in 'college' pursuing a EE degree ALL engineering students were required to take 'Machine Shop Practices'. We made usable reamers with a morse taper, created spur gears . . . We operated Metal lathes, Milling Machines, Grinders, Files, Drill Presses, Shapers(You learn to keep out of THEIR way!!!!). None of this has anything to do with Electrical Engineering, BUT a whole lot to do with ENGINEERING and understanding the world. Todays students are being cheated and are far poorer(mentally) for it! Bully for YOU in adding TS to STEM!

    The 'Dusty Curse' IS still with us!!!
    •  
      CommentAuthorNick
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2009
     
    "Todays students are being cheated and are far poorer(mentally) for it!"

    Many of us have seen the “motor/sensory homunculus” that grew out of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s work on the brain’s motor cortex in the 1950s. It shows a man whose body and limbs have been resized to reflect the amount of brain power allocated to (1) processing sensations coming from them and (2) controlling them. The most striking thing about these depictions is the incredibly large size of the hands. Our hands are so wonderfully sensitized and articulated that they require more of the motor cortex than any other part of the body. Furthermore, the motor cortex is connected to other parts of the brain, including the cerebral cortex, in ways that have not yet been fully explored. Looking at this homunculus, you cannot help but appreciate how much of the brain is employed in using tools and instruments. Nor can you help but be horrified at the current education strategies to prepare our young people for the “knowledge industry.” We are literally allowing a huge amount of America’s brain power to atrophy. The effects of this on our collective future cannot be good, and may indeed be catastrophic.

    I’ll get off my soap box now.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick
      motor_1.jpg
    • CommentAuthorJPG40504
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2009
     
    Could not help but notice the relative size of the mouth and tongue(and nose)! Second only to the hands. Also noticed the small size of another part of the anatomy!
    • CommentAuthorRiot_Nrrd
    • CommentTimeMay 28th 2009
     
    Nick -

    That's dissapointing, but not surprising. Oh well, I'll just keep on hunting the used bookstores for your wisdom... and, of course, keep checking out the site. It looks great, by the way. I can see where it has a lot of potential to go way beyond the static medium of print.

    I had always hoped to get to take a class from you. I think this will be a very good substitute. Thank you for loving your craft and sharing your knowledge with others.


    Andy
    • CommentAuthorgutterman
    • CommentTimeJul 12th 2009
     
    Nick may be right about the demise of publishers and books; however, my ten year old son reads unceasingly. He reads everyday, and sometimes several books in one day. His mother takes him to the local libraries (one in each of two different library systems) at least once a week. They check out books by the tens and sometimes have over 100 books checked out at any given time. My son and daughter participate in all the reading programs that the libraries offer, and that goes on year round. My son is not a book worm; he also plays outside, rides bicycles, motorcycles (his own Honda CRF50F)and skate boards, goes rollerskating and swimming, plays little league baseball and is heavily involved in Cub Scouting.

    Now I will tell you some other things about him; he does not watch TV. That is to say, he does not watch programming that is on the public airways. He does watch movies and other media that we own or are borrowed from friends/relatives and checked out from the libraries. He also has parents and grandparents that read. He has had many stories read to him. He is also Home Schooled and his recent SAT results show him to be beyond his age in all catagories. He does spend some time on computers, including supervised time on the internet.

    If you want children to read, you must be a good example for them. A person that develops good reading habits as a child, will be a life-long reader. IMHO, too much computer time and TV viewing time will reduce good reading habits.
  1.  
    Nick,

    Is there a place that has a listing for all the books you have written?

    I know I'm missing a few...
    •  
      CommentAuthorNick
    • CommentTimeSep 9th 2009 edited
     
    Amazon probably has the best list. Heck, they list a few that even I don't remember writing...

    With all good wishes,
    Nick
  2.  
    Nick,

    It's a shame to see someone else giving up on printed media. The computer can never adequately replace a book, especially in a shop environment. The computer is too slow for looking things up. And you can't curl up in front of the fire with it on a winter evening to absorb knowledge.

    I hear they're not teaching kids to write cursive anymore, either. Ever tried taking notes by printing or with a laptop? That doesn't work either. I'd say the brave new world is going to be populated with young folks in need of remedial education just to function.

    I'm saddened to hear there won't be an update of Woodworking Wisdom. The last woodworking class I took everyone was trying to pick up old copies where they could.
    • CommentAuthorBackhertz
    • CommentTimeNov 1st 2009
     
    Hi Nick,
    The day I stopped by the factory on Poe Ave several years ago, I had seen a few Saw Dust Sessions, but I was unaware of your work as an author. I will never forget you giving me a private sharpening lesson on the strip sander, helping me find a leather strop belt for it, teaching me the hammer twirl, and most of all, the tour of the factory where you shared many of your thoughts on wood working and the future. I believe I now have a copy of almost every book you authored. I learned the other day of James Krenov's passing. He is another wood working legend I had not heard of as I am still a newbie in woodworking. I picked up a couple of his books yesterday. I also found a 1953 first edition, first printing of De Cristoforo's PTWFE. My wood working library is growing.
    I watched your Making a Finger Plane video yesterday. You mentioned something which was mentioned in the Fine Woodworking article on Krenov in that a
    wood working apprentice had to first make his hand planes before moving on. I had always wanted to take shop courses in high school, but my father was determined I take only college prep courses. So as I've started my retirement, I want to attempt to learn how to work wood. I will never be as good as someone like a John Harrison who could make a wooden clock, but I would be happy to simply learn what I can to produce functional pieces such as kitchen cabinets and other things my wife will be able to use. I will start out by making a plane and other tool essentials in a wood shop. I have enough life experience in electricity and electronics to know that if I master the basics, everything thereafter becomes easier. If could simply master some of the woodworking basics, I will be very satisfied. Your books and this new web site will help me get there hopefully before my eyesight goes or my arthritis spreads through my hands. Thanks Nick!
    •  
      CommentAuthorNick
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2009
     
    Thank you for your kind words. I have little doubt you'll master some of the basics. Woodworking, like every other worthwhile adventure, is a simple matter of focus and passion.

    With all good wishes,
    Nick
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