One of my technical drawings showing how a duoprop lower gear system works.
I have spent almost a year doing research and development on over 100 subjects dealing with boat repair and maintenance. i was intending on creating a series of DIY (do it yourself) books and flogging them to a major publisher of the genre such as mcgraw hill. as of late of been thinking that that is so 20th century, and that learning materials should have a strong audio-visual component such as video and animation.
following that line i was thinking of generating online courses for quadrant marine in sidney, BC. and then a strange thing happened. i was sharing a pint with some friends last night when i was introduced to a fellow that does this professionally. he doesn’t actually develop content, but works with schools and universities and such helping them to create online learning opportunities. i told him of my plans, and he told me tear up the model i was using as the net has changed everything about how we learn.
the old way of acquiring knowledge or media required institutions to deliver them to us. or more accurately we had to go to them, and that was the same for universities as it was book or record stores. they had what we wanted, they controlled the dissemination and we followed their lead.
not anymore. knowledge is no longer “owned” in the old sense. in fact, some of my research was based on reading “previews” of marine service manuals on google books, as well as lurking around manufacturer’s websites for technical info. all free, albeit copywrited, but the knowledge they contain is available for all. although i did not used them for my books, user forums are also a great source of public info on a variety of marine-related subjects.
because we are all linked and we all have knowledge or sources of knowledge, the big institutions no longer control the game. mcgraw hill no longer controls the content of the books just like sony no longer controls who listens to their music; the public has bypassed them.
this fellow i was talking to told me that the new business model involves developing community and supporting that community. through the community you will be supported economically. it’s like the bike shop that supports biking and advocates biking, and therefore grows as biking grows. but they have to have a major personal investment in the community itself.
in this model, you give a lot away for free. by doing so, you develop an online community that supports itself and you, as long as what you provide is needed, inexpensive and supports that community.
there’s is nothing wrong in making money and we all have to live (and as you can tell by my blog, big bucks isn’t where it’s at for me. mostly this blog has been about the liveaboard lifestyle, but i’m also very passionate about anything marine related – except mega yachts and insane people who go at 90 mph on the water). i’m thinking of putting this material up for free, on this blog or a related website. it represents many hundreds or even thousands of hours of work. maybe i’ll put some up for free and some that you download for ten bucks, once you can see the quality. or maybe with a subscription fee of ten bucks a month for everything, including streaming videos.
user self-help forums could be included where people share ideas and advice. i have connections to professionals in all marine trades and could provide pro answers to questions, perhaps for a small fee.
basically, the model goes from a series of mcgraw-hill books to an interactive community dealing with the whole gamut of marine DIY topics from fiberglass repair, stern drive teardown, to boat electronics. most of it free, the exclusive bit here and there available for a low cost.
i get pretty decent traffic from this blog, and most of you are lurkers. i don’t even know how many of you are boat people and how many are alternative-lifestyle people. but i would be interested in hearing what you think about the idea? would you be willing to spend ten bucks a month to subscribe to a huge library of marine DIY technical info? or for an online booklet that would for example explain how to install new electronics on your boat, according to ABYC standards, complete with diagrams and video?
if you have an opinion it would be great hearing from you. personally, i would much rather be part of a new online community of people helping people rather than support mcgraw hill.
PS, i just received an email from a man who is a major consultant in the industry – he told me that the learning materials are among the best he has ever seen. i can’t use his name yet as i don’t have permission, but after all that work it’s nice to know that we have developed real quality.