It’s coming up on that time of year when you’ll read lots of editorials reflecting on where the hobby has been and where is it going. So here we go; the future of the hobby. What’s it going to be like and are we there yet?
I have no clue.
None whatsoever, zip, zero, nada!
I just have one of those annoying questions I’m known for. Instead of asking what’s the future of railroad modeling going to be, I’d rather ask:
What do you want it to be?
If you want to know how we got where we are now, just go back twenty years and look at what was emphasized in the magazines, which gradually influenced what people modeled, which in turn influenced what products came to market and on and on. That future, which we are experiencing today, resulted from a series of choices made one after another over time. That’s it. No magic, voodoo, dharma, zen or any of that stuff, just a series of choices made or not made.
What do you want from this hobby? Mindless entertainment and escapism, education, learning new skills, or just the chance to accumulate a bunch of junk your children won’t want and will have to dispose of? Whatever it is, you get to decide.
What’s the future of model railroad publishing?
What do you want it to be? Technology will continue to change the processes and even the “rules” regarding who can participate in publishing, but all the whizz-bang tech toys are useless until people decide what to do with those tools. What do you want from the information products this hobby generates? Do you want inspiration? Do you want to learn new skills, gain a historical perspective, preserve lost knowledge or something out of the box that no one has thought of yet.
It ain’t got nuttin’ to do with tech
Notice I haven’t really emphasized technology? Technology has always driven the hobby in some form by making formerly difficult or impossible things possible. That hasn’t changed in eighty years and, Lord willing, is unlikely to change in the next eighty. While technology has had it’s impact on the hobby, people have made a much greater one. Somebody decides to do something unusual and shares it with a few friends, who share it with others and before long a new way of looking at things takes root, a trend develops and the hobby changes. Then that scenario happens again, and again, and again until the future arrives.
All that said, here is my one and only prediction: If you want to know what the future will look like, take note of what’s happening now on the fringes of the hobby.
http://www.themodelrailwayshow.com/ (Doug Gurin’s interview from Episode 45)