On Experimentation

Posted: 2019-04-07 in Uncategorized
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Another entry in my Silverfish series, this time, a rant about experimentation.  Skaters are notorious DIY guys, and the course of skateboard history has been shaped by this DIY ethos.  SWB Freeride longboards came about from guys “bricking” their boards; that is, chopping the nose and tail off of dropthrough boards and mounting the trucks and wheels onto the standing platform.  Dropthrough boards hearken back to the 70’s when guys would cut holes in the top of their boards to get a lower center of gravity, for more stability when going fast.  The modern street deck has rounded noses and tails, after wearing down the square noses and tails of the late 80’s and early 90’s.  In the early 70’s, urethane wheels were squared off with sharp lips.  By the late 70’s, skaters had realized that their wheels wore out and rounded over at the lips, so wheel manufacturers began pouring wheels with rounded lips already on them.  The point is that skaters are a unique bunch, DIY runs deep.  The rant below circles around the advent of social media, instant feedback, and having the collective experience of humanity at your fingertips.  This seemed to erode the DIY ethos on sites like Silverfish, and later on Reddit and Facebook…On the one hand it was cool because it signaled that people wanted to spend more time riding and progressing instead of fucking around with nuts, bolts, screws, washers, and bushings; on the other hand, if you have two sets of wheels in your hand and you have to ask which is better for sliding, you’re an idiot, just put the fuckers on and go slide them instead of posting about it online.

What happened to experimenting?
Seriously, why don’t people just try things out anymore? One of the funnest things about longboarding, according to my opinion, is just that: playing around with different setups. Anyone with any amount of experience knows that bushings are one of the cheapest ways to drastically alter your board’s feeling. And, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy 2 setups at the same time, why bother spending time asking which will slide better? Why not just…ride both?

Is this something the community at Silverfish has brought on itself? On one hand, I can see where this is definitely factor. People bash other skaters because of  odd/unusual setups…see the “Weirdest Setup You’ve Seen” thread. Anything outside the “norm” is immediately dismissed as nonfunctional at worst, just plain weird at best. In a weird way, it almost seems like the site at large discourages  experimentation via the hive-mind mentality.

Another odd factor that I’ve heard college professors talk on is how kids these days just don’t know how to play around, experiment, and learn on their own. At the risk of getting political, there’s an entire generation of longboarders that went through school under No Child Left Behind, wherein the students were largely taught the tests, and not the actual process of learning.  Since longboarding is so popular among this specific group of kids, it stands to reason that maybe they just don’t know they can experiment and break out of that aforementioned hive-mind.

Does anyone else have any comments? The point I’m trying to drive home is that it it’s perfectly acceptable to tinker with everything…play around…before you post a thread asking a question, explore all of your own possibilities. Hell, half the fun of skateboarding in general is DIY’ing everything; why not apply that to your longboard?

 

My friend, boarderaholic, agreed with my sentiments and added:

That part is fair, and understandable. What gets me are threads that are made where the user asks something like… “I have a Landyachtz Switchblade. I also own RAD advantages, and O’tang Stims. Which wheels slide better?”

It’s really, really not that difficult to take said gear out with you to skate and TRY things. I mean, isn’t experimenting how we got to the world that we have today? This is the beautiful thing about skateboarding, there is so much room to
grow, and be your own person.

 

One of the most common counter-arguments was cost, but that completely ignores the entire premise of the thread:  That you’ve already got 2 sets of wheels/trucks/bushings in your hand, and you’re asking which one is better

For me money is the biggest issue. I tweak what I can and come on here and find DIY stuff I can do to make my board better. I like just messing around to find the best feel and having people to sit around and tweak then ride then tweak then
ride (.ect) is awesome.

 

The Internet is a wonderful thing – it brings the collective experience and knowledge of the entire history of humanity into the palm of your hand.  If you’re considering a new piece of gear, search for it.  Google is wonderful, and it may have brought you to this very blog.  If you already have the piece of gear in your hand, go ride it!

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