OSD 249: The Eras Tour
You taught me about your past, thinking your future was memes.
“OSD 185: Hypebeasts as honeybees” opened like this:
This week, we’ll focus on two images.
The first one charts the adoption curves of the major technological advances since the 1890s:
The takeaway is that adoption is accelerating. Electricity took 2+ decades to get to 50% adoption. Smartphones got there in in less than 2 years.
Ok so that’s the first image. Here’s the second image, an IG post from @solscud007:
Alrighty, so a fun meme about the Hydra mount.
The tough thing about getting hyped about some fundamentally new product is that it always looks silly and fringe at first. The difference between good innovations and ones that fizzle is that the good ones eventually seem obviously good. Often they become so obviously good that people forget it was ever non-obvious. (No opinion here about the Hydra, and no clue if it’s any good. Just using it as a jumping-off point.) The point is that “is this just hype or is this real?” is a question you can only answer in retrospect. In the moment, “this looks weird” is actually not a great predictor of whether the product is actually any good.
If you respond, “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.” to every new product, the seductive thing about that is that you’ll be right most of the time. Because most products fail. But that attitude’s failure mode is that it will miss the products that are actually good.
Squint at that and it turns out that the people who buy new gun stuff like it’s a limited-edition Air Jordan release are performing a valuable public service — they’re exploring every bit of new gear instantly, often at absurd expense to themselves. If something’s good, these scouts quickly spread the word like a bee telling everyone where the good flowers are.
That’s the early part of the hype cycle.
What about the last part of the cycle?
When a trend is on its way out, we all see it as hackneyed. But that makes it easy to forget what made the trend popular in the first place — there was a time when it seemed really cool! Remember the Weaver stance? Or the teacup grip? Back in the day those were the cool new techniques from the top influencers.
Cultures produce trends. Trends have lifespans. A decade, tops. So by definition, the only cultures that last are those that produce multiple trends, one after the other. That requires continual reinvention. A culture that isn’t reinventing itself is one that’s living off of its seed corn.
YouTube is a useful place to see this happening in real-time. You can break the history into different eras.
Gun Culture 1.0: David Yamane identifies this as starting in the mid 19th century and focusing on hunting and recreation, with self-defense being part of gun education but not central. It ran through the mid 20th century, and Jack O’Connor and Elmer Keith were the top influencers of the era.
Gun Culture 2.0: this era brought self-defense to the fore, starting in the 1960s. Jeff Cooper is the godfather here, and this era ran through the early 21st century.
YouTube launched in 2005, and starting in the late ‘00s, you can observe the ebb and flow of five different trends:
Military-based training: this kicked off in earnest with the Magpul Dynamics DVDs from Travis Haley and Chris Costa, and today looks like CQB lessons and night-vision tactics on YouTube.
Technical gear reviews: there was a time when your best shot at seeing in-depth details on your favorite gun was to wait for its Future Weapons episode to come on TV. Today you can see essentially any gun you want at any time, field-stripped in 4K.
Commentary on gun politics and court cases: it used to be hard to find content that had any level of technical depth here. Now there are channels like Fuddbusters which actually assume quite a bit of legal knowledge and are deep wells of professional-level legal analysis.
Fun: the innovation here has been in production value and in, well, fun. The first video on Demolition Ranch is a 45-second clip of Matt shooting an old computer monitor with a shotgun. From there, things … progressed.
Practical advice: this has been the category with the most original, groundbreaking content in the past few years. Some of the best content here comes from people incentivized to make it — people who are selling gear and have a lot of firsthand experience helping newbies navigate everyday questions. PHLster, T.Rex Arms, and Lucky Gunner are great examples.
All of these categories look very different than they did ten years ago. Some categories might be on the downslope overall. For example, the “military-based training” and “fun” categories in particular are running out of ideas for original content, so those creators are busily looking for ways to reinvent the genre. But ultimately that’s what all creators have to do sooner or later. And that’s good. The more readily we reinvent, the more vibrant the culture becomes.
We’ll leave you with a list, sourced from our X/Twitter replies, of some favorite YouTube channels under 100k subs. In no particular order:
Tessah Booth: very good EDC advice, especially for those concealing with tight and/or fashionable clothing, and double-especially for women
Buffman - R.A.N.G.E.: technical reviews of ammunition
The Tinnitus Show: gun reviews
Nightwood Guns: gun reviews and practical advice
This week’s links
…what would it really take to progress the gun paradigm permanently, finding good people, OSD’s offer to help everyone with gun-related social media issues, and Chuck’s select-fire desires.
A reader sent the following correction to the info above. Lightly edited for brevity:
The information about Vista Outdoor being bought by CZ is a little inaccurate. The agreement to sell the ammunition side of Vista Outdoor was to CSG, which is another Czech firm. The announcement (along with a downward revision to the earnings forecast) caused a 25% drop in stock price. Over the following week or two, CZ Colt bought a meaningful stake in the business and is now making a takeover bid. So it’s two Czech companies fighting it out.
Before his conviction, Marvin Guy somehow also spent ten years in jail awaiting trial.
On May 9, 2014, before the sun rose, about two dozen officers arrived at Guy's residence. The team struggled to fully penetrate the door with their battering ram; something was blocking it from behind. One officer accidentally detonated his stun grenade, inflaming what was already a raid rapidly going awry.
Guy, who lived in a high-crime area, said he was woken up and assumed the police were criminals trying to break into his home. He had allegedly been on edge about such a situation: One of his neighbors had reportedly been victimized similarly a week before when an intruder choked her after forcing entry by way of her first-floor window. Guy allegedly hit four officers, killing Dinwiddie and prompting police to fire over 40 rounds in return.
Other writing on similar topics:
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