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Tyler Gigliello




Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 3:19 am    Post subject: Dimensions for an Atypical Oakeshott XVIIIa Sword         Reply with quote

After a lot of looking about, I can't seem to find some really important information on the blade geometry of the Oakeshott XVIIa sword type; specifically, typical edge angle, thickness (and taper, for that matter), ricasso depth, average weight, and the like.

My intent is to replicate the sword in a 3D cad program and perform several kinds of stress tests on it, possibly change some of the geometry to effect it's strength and handling properties, and then reproduce it.

If anyone could help with this endeavor, it would be much appreciated.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The reason you will not find this information on the internet is that there is no such comprehensive body of data on type XVII swords done. The information you ask for is very rarely, or never part of published information.

It is up to private researchers to gather such information and because of this you will in the best of cases only find data on one, two or at best a handful of swords. One of these *may* be of the type you are interested in.

Seeking average statistics can be very misleading. Even if you see the type XVII as a coherent group there is a great deal of variation within it. You can argue for many sub groups that all correspond to the overall definitions of the type. Trying to fins a medium between these swords would probably give you a strange bastard beast that was never meant to be.

If you are seriously interested, your best bet is to go and study originals first hand. You will then get exactly the kind of data you are interested in and have them first hand. As you do this research you will find that your idea of swords will change in a dramatic way. The type will gain a life: its design concept will become a structure with its own logic and good reasons. This will give you a good basis for your own design: you will have begun to understand what the intentions of the original sword smiths and cutlers were when they made these swords. Without this insight it is very difficult, or impossible to make changes to the sword to "improve" on the design and still have it to be faithful to the type.

Being faithful to historical swords is not just about an interest in history, it is about caring for function. These swords were made this way because this design *worked*. It is something that is not easily improved on.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, it is unclear what information you seek. Do you want info on XVIIIa or XVII? Peter is of course correct, there is no real substitute for direct measurements of the actual artifact. That can be difficult for some of us though. If you clarify what you are looking for, I'll share any relevant info I have. I also think you would benefit from approaching this differently. What sort of characteristics do you desire? Any "tweaking" you do to "improve" one characteristic will probably alter another characteristic in a negative way. To paraphrase something Peter once said, swordsmithing is about balancing opposites to find a happy compromise. The ancients were masters at this and we will never really be able to improve on their work. A better way to go about it might be to describe the sort of characteristics you want and compromises you are willing to make, and build your design around that. Or better yet find an original or really good reproduction with characteristics you like and build a similar sword. Your computer model will require a lot of data, and even if you do find a lot of the data you seek it is still likely (or inevitable) that you will miss some of the subtleties.
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Justin King
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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 12:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The context of it's use and the physical characteristics and abilities of the user define what a sword should be, and what properties will allow it to perform to best advantage. This is why originals of the same or similar type often differ to the extent that they do. To design a sword based on average statistics will, at best, result in an average sword.
It is really impossible to re-create the knowledge that swordmakers gained over centuries of trial and error, using a computer program. The simple fact that swords are no longer used in deadly combat (and haven't been for hundreds of years) puts us in a vaccum from which we cannot hope to surpass the understanding of the original makers.
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Tyler Gigliello




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The reason you will not find this information on the internet is that there is no such comprehensive body of data on type XVII swords done. The information you ask for is very rarely, or never part of published information.


I'm noticing this is true for almost all of the various Oakeshott typologies; it's very frustrating that while there are often listed examples, there are no pieces of information on the geometry, cross-section, or other mechanically important aspects of the sword's construction.

Quote:
It is up to private researchers to gather such information and because of this you will in the best of cases only find data on one, two or at best a handful of swords. One of these *may* be of the type you are interested in.


I'd be amazed that with such a comprehensive network on this forum, there would be no curators with a simple interest in the construction of Medieval and Renaissance arms and armor.

Quote:
Seeking average statistics can be very misleading. Even if you see the type XVII as a coherent group there is a great deal of variation within it. You can argue for many sub groups that all correspond to the overall definitions of the type. Trying to fins a medium between these swords would probably give you a strange bastard beast that was never meant to be.


Which is why I specified that I was using this as a starting point, not the definitive end all be all, and why I am planning on simulating as many examples of blade geometry until I find one that catches my fancy to reproduce physically. In addition, I did mention I am seeking the XVIII (18) a subtype, not the XVII.

Quote:
there is no real substitute for direct measurements of the actual artifact. That can be difficult for some of us though. If you clarify what you are looking for, I'll share any relevant info I have.


I was asking for about as much; if anyone had, on hand, the measurements of a relevant sword, or ideally a point-cloud analysis coupled with some notable measurements so I could figure out the average blade geometry. I'd assume someone out there has about the same technical expertise as me when it comes to 3D scanning, NDT, and digital prototyping and would have scanned some more notable artifacts.

Ideally, if someone were to put an artifact in a CAT scanner or something similar; you could determine the densities of all the materials involved, and have a very detailed 3-dimensional image of not just the outer geometry, but of the full construction of the blade.

Justin King wrote:
The context of it's use and the physical characteristics and abilities of the user define what a sword should be, and what properties will allow it to perform to best advantage. This is why originals of the same or similar type often differ to the extent that they do. To design a sword based on average statistics will, at best, result in an average sword.
It is really impossible to re-create the knowledge that swordmakers gained over centuries of trial and error, using a computer program. The simple fact that swords are no longer used in deadly combat (and haven't been for hundreds of years) puts us in a vaccum from which we cannot hope to surpass the understanding of the original makers.


This is why I'm not merely guessing at it and starting from my (admittedly) limited knowledge, and instead attempting to tap into the greater resources of the web, and specifically this forum. I'm not an amateur to computer simulation, digital prototyping, and CAD by any means, and my interest comes from the academic standpoint of that if we know more about the geometry and construction of the blades in question, and their intrinsic differences, we can understand more about what drove smiths to produce weapons of a certain type.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 3:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler Gigliello wrote:
I'd be amazed that with such a comprehensive network on this forum, there would be no curators with a simple interest in the construction of Medieval and Renaissance arms and armor.


Tyler,

I think you're underestimating the scope of such projects and doing a bit of a discredit to many fine scholars by saying this. There are numerous enthusiasts of arms and armor (many of whom are populating the ranks of professionals working in museums or universities) who have spent countless hours compiling evidence, examining trends and points of data almost beyond reckoning in order to create typologies of various forms of armament. Mr. Oakeshott is a fine example of just such a man. Much work has been done, but it is not easy to accomplish and, speaking from experience, I'm going to say that you should never expect to simply stumble upon what you're looking for in the study of material history.

Consider the accessibility to even a relatively small percentile of the pertinent, necessary information to make informed judgments about the evolution of Medieval or Renaissance arms and armor. A comprehensive study of that sort is nearly beyond the scope of a human lifetime. Even focusing on swords, there are so many nuances among isolated or chance finds, interpretation of poorly preserved artifacts and general lack of extant artifacts that a typological study may be frustrated beyond reason, and impossible to clearly establish. Consider how widely spread the raw data may be, across hundreds of storage rooms or exhibitions in European castles, cathedrals, museums and private collections, not to mention the thousands of artifacts that are now held internationally outside of Europe!

Many scholars and enthusiasts have dedicated years of their lives to identifying historical typologies, ranging from ancient Minoan pottery forms to Medieval European swords to transitional armor during the 14th century to snuff boxes from Victorian England. Much excellent information has been revealed in this grand ordering of material culture, but there is still far more to be done, even within the topics that have been considerably studied and published (as an immediate example, take the inadequacies of Mr. Oakeshott's generous contributions). It will be decades, or even hundreds of years from now, before most (and probably never all) of material history will be categorized, published, readily accessible, easily understood and exact in a wide variety of aspects. In other words, a long ass time before typologies will be a simple matter.

That said, I would encourage you greatly to begin a study of your own in this particular instance if you wish to appreciate the fine points of typological studies. Research as many examples of swords you think can be classified as Oakeshott XVIIa, find their providence and current locations, email the curators who watch over them, ask politely for information that you are keen to be more aware of and finally compile what you find, write it up and provide lots of pretty little blue-print sketches. I will tell you now that after lots of headaches, delays and dead ends, if you are persistent in your research and have a bit of luck to boot, you will be well on your way to contributing to this rather endless process of understanding the past in all of its intricacies.

Or, if you're not interested in doing that (I know I'm not) perhaps you can look into a form of blade that has more typological references, or choose a very specific sword and utilize its exact dimensions to form the basic options for your CAD testing. Using a particular sword is a very advisable path to take for field testing and will yield results that were surely historical, at least with that sword.

-Gregory
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Sat 29 Dec, 2012 8:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I actually quite like Tylerís idea, though I suspect getting the sort of data required will be tricky. I took him as meaning not that with this approach we could improve on the designs, more that by suing this technique of stress testing etc we could improve our understanding of the designs. This seems like a worthwhile goal.
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Tyler Gigliello




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 12:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

I think you're underestimating the scope of such projects and doing a bit of a discredit to many fine scholars by saying this. There are numerous enthusiasts of arms and armor (many of whom are populating the ranks of professionals working in museums or universities) who have spent countless hours compiling evidence, examining trends and points of data almost beyond reckoning in order to create typologies of various forms of armament. Mr. Oakeshott is a fine example of just such a man. Much work has been done, but it is not easy to accomplish and, speaking from experience, I'm going to say that you should never expect to simply stumble upon what you're looking for in the study of material history.


This is exactly why I asked here; when my preliminary search for information failed, I chose to seek out people whom, as you say "have spent countless hours compiling evidence, examining trends and points of data almost beyond reckoning."

I'm asking for data; measurements of examples, weights, things that people have done so that I can collate them and understand why and how the arms and armor in question were made and with what mindset. Things any self-respecting scientist or enthusiast could do with access to the pieces, a micrometer, a calculator, some scratch paper and a ruler or yardstick.

I was initially asking for a ballpark value or perhaps measurements from an exemplar piece; which no doubt has been done; seeing as Mr. Oakeshott typified them; there must have been measurements made when figuring what typifies one kind of blade against another. Since this is undoubtedly the case, all I'm really asking for is where those measurements were stored.

I'm stating that, yes there are ideal cases in which I'd like to have measurements of this type, specifically a CT scan, so I could more directly understand the densities of the materials involved, and more completely understand intricate changes in blade geometry; but I'm assuming that since such technology is relatively new, data of this type is likely not common, or forthcoming.

I'd be happy with basic measurements done by protractor, ruler and caliper of weapons which fit this type, of the blade's angle, it's thickness and distal taper, length, width and profile taper, handle length, guard width; simple, basic measurements which would be done when creating the typologies from a scientific standpoint. As you said before there are people who have dedicated years of their life to cataloging, deciphering, collating, and processing this information; I'm asking forthright to see the fruits of this academic labor so I can deepen both my own and the public at large's understanding of how these important tools shaped our past, and subsequently our future. I'd really only need maybe 2-3 examples to get a ballpark to start in. Again though, ideally it'd be nice to collate the data on every sword ever measured, but it's both unlikely and labor intensive on my end to even attempt such a feat.

That said, I planned from the outset to use whatever connections I could manage on my own side to speak to curators, and academics in archaeology and anthropology to get more information; but I was assuming (apparently wrongly, it seems) that others have taken up the mantle in a similar way, attempting to gather, collate, and most importantly distribute information about the properties of the things which so duly arouse their passion. This is not an underground, atypical, or occult interest; and I'm amazed that it's so hard to find hard, reliable facts, measurements and figures about one of the most influential tools in a very large portion of history.

Quote:
I actually quite like Tylerís idea, though I suspect getting the sort of data required will be tricky. I took him as meaning not that with this approach we could improve on the designs, more that by suing this technique of stress testing etc we could improve our understanding of the designs. This seems like a worthwhile goal.


My intent, as it always is, is to deepen my knowledge, and to understand the reasoning and process behind it all. I feel as if the best way to do this is to dissect all the information I can; understand it on a statistical and fundamental level, test to see what possible reasons there are for a choice in engineering, and reverse engineer as much as possible to understand both the thought process and end result.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 1:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you're mistaking the impression I was trying to give you. I was making the point that all of these devoted scholars, despite the work that has been done, are still far from finished with the work of cataloging the details you're looking for. It is no easy task to assemble so much raw data and disseminate it, as interested as someone may be in a topic. It takes hundreds of hours, access to artifacts that direct inspection of is typically granted only to credentialed or noted scholars, and generally, many thousands of dollars to travel around on a whim and do it all. Getting research grants to work with arms and armor is a tough situation, as military history has ups and downs in the scholarly community and is typically unpopular in today's liberal institutes... Most scholars except diehard materialists would dismiss even Oakeshott's typologies as obsessive and unnecessary. What do we actually learn about history based on the way that people made their blades? Is a soldier best exemplified by the gun he carries, or by the nation and ideals that he serves? Such questions revolve in the minds of academics who look into material culture, and often the answers are not favorable for the material enthusiasts who wish to learn more but do not have academic resources at their disposal.

Beyond ancient archaeology, which is really the only way to connect with prehistoric peoples or supplements what literature that survives prominently, many material history studies are considered flights of fancy and rather unnecessary. For the Medieval period, I know that building structures, items that pertain to class distinction, religious accoutrement and items of daily use (e.g. pottery, utensils and clothing types) are studied to try to bring more light to the unaccountable lives of millions of peasants and a better grasp of contemporary material culture as witnessed through phenomenon we deem considerable, such as the church, state and international economies.

One cannot say the same sort of relevance is apparent for a study of swords, and even so, the detail you're seeking go beyond trivial except among the most dedicated enthusiasts, who typically wish to reproduce and wield the weaponry well outside of academic circles. Few people who study ancient pottery take time to note the density and strength of materials, or even the size of the items! I've had a hell of a time finding out how large average Greek kantharos were, and you'd almost think it'd be important to someone, considering it denotes how much wine thirsty Greeks expected to have per serving! Instead, things like artistic motifs, dissemination through trade routes and notable changes is favored shapes and colors, not to mention the technological process of the potter's trade, are typically the important factors in studying pots. Oakeshott prioritized similarly for swords, giving as much evidence as he considered reasonable and fundamental to his studies.

As far as I know, no study has ever been made that will present you with the information you're seeking. In fact, I'd go so far as to say you can likely style yourself the first person to ever ask these questions specifically of this sword type. There are a lot of questions to ask, and only so much time to answer them in. I do know of some swords, such as the Mycenaean Naue II blades and some Celtic and early Medieval types, that have been scrutinized to your degree of interest. But these are chance studies that were conducted by rather obsessive scholars, and are not the norm. Your best bet is, as you've hinted at, to get a hold of someone who has access to extant pieces that you wish to review, such as curators at museums where the swords are held. As it stands, you're asking very detailed questions about a rather general topic. It simply hasn't been studied with such particular depth, yet.

-Gregory
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 3:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The key problem is that this sort of detailed data is only really useful to swordmakers. As Peter pointed out before, keeping that data more or less secret is actually a good way for them to make money. They don't really have an academic incentive to publish (or rather it does not help their main business, when you know something you always want to share Happy )...

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler, I think you misunderstood or misread my post. Or perhaps I was less than clear in my wording (that would not have been the first time! :-)

More than two decades ago I was curious to learn exactly the things you are asking for. I was frustrated that there was no detailed information about swords to be had in published works. When it came down to the interesting facts it seemed to me they were glossed over or simply passed by without any interest.

The only way for me was to take the trouble to go to museums and ask permission to document original swords. Over the years I have put together a body of data that is the basis for my work as designer and sword smith: it is at the core of what I am doing. It is also more than simply collecting data. By looking closely at original artifact you see that it is not always as simple as gathering a few key features and extrapolating the rest. The devil is in the details and you usually come away from documentation work with more questions than answers.
(-and I would *love* to have access to a 3D scanner! :-)

I do this professionally. It is not a business with great profit margins. In fact, it can be a struggle even at the best of times.
The situation for me as professional sword smith is different from someone who is a professional scholar with an employment at a university or a museum. For the professional academic, the publication of research not primarily (or in any way) a source of income, but a way to demonstrate (and invite for discussion and critique) the results of your work to your peers and an interested public.
In my situation this is complicated. When I am asked to provide reference for my conclusions and designs I am expected to give away for free years of labour that someone then simply can use as basis for cheap knock of versions. It is actually something I think about often: how to present my results without putting myself out of business. I would love to publish, but it is not an easy thing to figure out in a time when the value of information is not highly rated: information is supposed to be free, right?

With all the swords being made today and marketed as "historically accurate" or "based on museum originals" you might think that research on, and documentation of original swords is something pretty common and wide spread. You might think there is a lot of research data in circulation.

I dare to say it is quite the opposite: very, very few makers actually base their work on hands on research and direct knowledge of original swords. "Based on a museum original" often means noting more than looking at a few photographs of a sword in a book or auction catalogue. This will naturally not reveal anything in regards to the actual design, function or character of the sword.

Most of what you see made today is even further removed from the original artifacts and based more or less completely on conjecture of what medieval swords are *supposed* to be like, with the only possible claim to authenticity being a superficial likeness to a typology classification. These same swords may still be marketed as "historically accurate".

In professional scholarship in the field of arms and armour, you will rarely find studies from the perspective of making. Technical aspects like metallurgy are published, but you will find no in depth studies of functional properties and design concepts.

I am sorry if these words come across as a bitter litany. Your request for accurate data happened to hit on a spot but my intention is not to aim any frustration towards you.
As a maker who makes a point of basing work on actual study of originals I often find myself frustrated by how often this kind of research is taken for granted or made light of by careless claims in marketing. For customers it must be very difficult to make a distinction between the genuine thing and empty marketing lingo.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 5:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tyler Gigliello wrote:
I was initially asking for a ballpark value or perhaps measurements from an exemplar piece; which no doubt has been done; seeing as Mr. Oakeshott typified them; there must have been measurements made when figuring what typifies one kind of blade against another. Since this is undoubtedly the case, all I'm really asking for is where those measurements were stored.


The beauty of Oakeshott's typology is that it relies on visual evidence, not measurements. The defining characteristics of a given type don't take a ruler or calipers to see. You look at features like profile taper, presence/number/length of fullers, cross-section (usually visible things like mid-ribs, a hex section, lenticular, etc.).

This makes the system still useful when looking at pictures or through display case glass and you can't measure things. Most people won't have hands-on access to antiques, so a system that relies totally on hands-on data has limited use for most people.

Regarding the XVII (17)/XVIII (18) confusion, please see your first post:

You wrote:
After a lot of looking about, I can't seem to find some really important information on the blade geometry of the Oakeshott XVIIa sword type; specifically, typical edge angle, thickness (and taper, for that matter), ricasso depth, average weight, and the like.


I suggest editing it for clarity.

Happy

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Jack Savante





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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 5:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Peter,
I, as are I'm sure are all the sword community am a huge admirer of your work. I think you are the spiritual successor to Ewart Oakeshott, and the ever growing world of collectors and enthusiasts owes much of the advancement of the field to your efforts.
I though, as do many makers, have a desire to get my hands on more technical data. Unfortunately I don't live in a country that has a European sword collection to examine, as is the case I am sure for many makers also.
The community as a whole would benefit from your data being made public because it would ensure more swords with sound research behind them are being made.
It would be a shame for financial concerns to be the thing that held the world of the modern sword back, but I understand that we all must eat and have shelter and comfort.
For my two cents worth i believe there may be a middle ground that brings satisfaction to yourself and others - publish your findings in the form of a hard copy only book much like a University text book. Sell it for two hundred euros. I'm sure that you could conservatively expect to sell 500 copies (but I am sure more than 500 would sell) which would mean 100 000 euros gross for your efforts.
A Peter Johnsson sword would stll be a Peter Johnson sword, even if people tried to imitate the style nothing would be a substitute for an original, and the same would apply to Albion but the community would be enriched by having your invaluable knowledge to draw upon.
Thank you for your time, keep up the great work that inspires us all.
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 8:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd gladly pay 200 euros for a P. Johnsson book!

Check out this link, may be of some help. One at least is a fullered XVIIIa (ZEF 7) http://www.zornhau.de/dinkelsbuhl-first-steel/#more-92
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The misconceptions of financial realities, the exaggeration of the minuscule market surrounding the subject of arms and armour, the discounting of the value of information and the cost of achieving it, and the complete devaluing of the cost of writing and publishing a comprehensive book could fill several volumes itself.

Tell you guys what, if anyone here can raise 500k USD from investors, I will gather up the appropriate resources to put together and publish an introductory work on the subject. Please note to your potential investors that there will be no ROI.

Like many here, I want the same type of information (and more) as being expressed here. Unlike the others here, I've put forth thousands and thousands of man-hours (and dollars) in my own efforts with this site and whatnot. I come from a content creation (publishing, photography, printing, web site creation, etc.) background and had/have desires to put forth additional products on the subject. I've run the numbers many times, gathered up several resources to do the same, and involved several experts much smarter than myself to help. Producing a product in the same category and with a similar scope as some of the things discussed in topics like this are simply not fiscally viable outside of academia. Even then, there are some extreme hurdles to overcome.

I very much like to see topics like this where people brainstorm ideas, express desires and needs, and put together wish lists! This topic is a fantastic idea and could lead to a very good conversation! I'm glad it was posted. It was so good that it has attracted some knowledgeable people in this field to participate in it! So far, so good.

I am however disturbed when people then approach others in the field with requests (and even demands) for such things with extremely over-simplified and ill-conceived statements of how easy something would be to produce, etc. Do you have any idea what position this puts that person in? Frankly, it discourages them from participating here. Do this site and the community that surrounds it a favor: stop doing that.

This post no doubt seems snarky. Please believe me when I tell you that time and time again I have seen that much of what is going on in topics like this reads as dismissive to the efforts of the very people who are working for the benefit of us consumers (of both information and product). This has in the past caused many such people to stop participating on sites with this behavior. Worse, it has caused many to move onto other subjects of study. We've lost more suppliers (again, of information and product) than still exist because us consumers have not shown an appreciation or ability to value said information and product. We don't put our money where our mouths are; we undervalue and misunderstand the information and products presented to us; and we debate with the suppliers the efforts it takes to produce them. The suppliers that are left are often doing it out of their own passion alone.

One very large goal of this site was to try to inform our audience so that they can better value and appreciate such things. I fear that it's been a three-steps-forward, two-steps back type of endeavor.

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Justin King
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PostPosted: Sun 30 Dec, 2012 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In hindsight, I really shouldn't have posted my reply. I was mostly trying to frame my own thoughts, which were not helpful and often wander off-topic...I don't post much anymore, and this is precisely why, I tend to think out loud and post it when I should know better by now. Please don't let my opinion discourage you.
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