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MMD > Archives > September 1999 > 1999.09.26 > 01Prev  Next

Frequently Asked Questions
By John A. Tuttle

Jody's comments about the Archives hit a sensitive nerve.  [Following
the article by Craig Brougher about Duo-Art Cross Valves in MMD
990923.]  I, probably more than most other web site owners, experience
people's general laziness every single day.  It's more than frustrating,
it's annoying.

The problem is extremely simple.  The general public, and even some
of the MMD members, seem to believe that those of us who provide an
extensive database of information have nothing better to do than sit
around answering their questions, day after day after day.

The fact is, the information they seek is usually readily available
and quite easy to find ... if they take the time to *look and read!
But no, they want to be spoon-fed.  The masses have become so accustom
to just picking up a phone or writing an email to get the answers they
want that the majority have either stopped or forgotten how to do
research.  (I'll bet Joyce Brite is intimately familiar with the

I've had visitors to Player-Care get down-right vocal with me because
I didn't write a three page explanation to answer their question, but
instead pointed them to a reference.  As Jody correctly stated, when
you have a huge database it's nearly impossible to remember its
contents.  That's why there are two Search Features.  (Personally,
I can't agree with Jody that the Archives need yet another Search
Feature -- to satisfy the needs of the lazy.)

Craig Brougher and I had a conversation recently about the negative
impact of providing extensive information to the masses.  It's
beginning to hurt our businesses.  And worse yet, it's giving some
people the impression that "anybody can rebuild a player piano".

Forty years ago, when I started working on my very first piano,
I couldn't find a single piano tuner who was willing to help me
learn about pianos.  The comment I received was always the same:
"Either become an apprentice or go to the library."

I now understand why they wouldn't help me: it wasn't their job!
Why should they give me something that may have taken them years
to learn or perfect?

The point is, the industry was protected from within by the people who
made their living in that industry.  There were "trade secrets" that
one could only learn by working under a trained technician.  Don't get
me wrong, I believe in the benefits of the 'information age'.  But,
quite honestly, I'm beginning to feel as though 'it' is coming up
behind me and biting me on the butt.

There is a solution to this dilemma.  And I hate to say it, but I think
Bill Gates is right.  Information has monetary value!  And it shouldn't
be totally free.  The solution is to force people to pay for what they
want!  (That comment is certain to raise eyebrows).  I started doing
that about two months ago and I've been pleasantly surprised by the
results.  First off, it weeds out the curious from the serious.  Simply
mention that there is a cost involved and only the serious will

As a closing comment, I think it's fantastic that there is so much
information available on the Internet, and that the vast majority of it
is free.  But I can feel a change coming.  And that change has already
occurred in other fields.  You want a computer program? You can buy it
on-line.  You want book?  You can buy it on-line.  You want a video?
You can buy it on-line.  You want information?   Soon, very soon, you'll
have to pay for it!!!

What's the old saying?  Nothing worth having is free.

Next question: How does one go about setting up a system so people can
easily buy information?  I think I know, but it will take some time to

With an eye on the future,

John A. Tuttle

P.S. Those of you who have been in the MMD for a few years will
most likely note that my attitude about free information has changed
dramatically.  If you got 20-30 e-mails a day from people who are too
lazy to even check out the FAQs before sending a letter, you'd

(Message sent Fri 24 Sep 1999, 14:42:55 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

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