September 28, 2007

The Long Tail of Hobbies Online

In yet another example of how niche content flourishes online, I was surprised to find that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of how-to videos for teaching pottery techniques online (some of them with good soundtracks, no less). Having just started a nine-week course in ceramics, I’m quickly realizing that my time to become proficient on the wheel is limited and the learning curve is steep—and messy. With a packed class full of eager students, one-on-one instruction isn’t really possible, and pottery books with still images don’t quite capture the movement and flow that’s so essential to establishing one’s technique. Of course, there’s no replacement for the sloppy and slippery trial-and-error learning that happens on the wheel, but as a supplement to that experience, I’m finding that online videos are a perfect bite-sized way to reinforce the skills I learn in class.

With a whopping 83% of adult internet users going online to find information that helps them pursue their hobbies, I know I’m in good company. Whether you’re into whiffle hurling, baton twirling or hair curling, chances are there’s someone out there who wants to help you learn.