I’ll be frank. After writing over 200 posts for this blog, I have to concede that there’s one thing that really keeps me going with this… typewriter… thing… and contrary to popular belief it isn’t a raging red cordial habit. No. I just really like the gas-bagging. I wouldn’t call myself an extravert, but I’m sure as hell not introverted either. So it probably surprises no-one that I like the community spirit that I have found amongst most members of the Typosphere.
And there’s surprisingly a lot of people on and offline to talk to. I send letters all over the world (yes, I realise I’m like… really far behind guys. You WILL get letters soon) and as all walks of life enjoy sitting behind a keyboard, dancing with their fingers on lettered up thingies, there’s often all kinds of interesting stories to be found online and great people to meet.
So I thought I’d whack out a list of some of the more populated and interesting socially oriented typewriter spaces that you can find online. The isn’t an extensive list, but it is a list of the more energetic and sometimes argumentative groups that are an easy click away.
So grab yourself a beer or a wine (of a scotch if you’re inclined like we are at my household) and sit back and enjoy some ‘nettn time.
The Typosphere Blog Page.
If there ever was a front page of the Typosphere, it is this one. The aggregated main page blog posts are often interesting but very casually curated. However it does have a list page that links to a few important online resources that are worthwhile. That said, what the Typosphere page does best is to run a rolling updates ticker of typewriter related blogs on the it’s blog-roll. It is a very good collection and can be found on the right-hand side of the page. It isn’t an exhaustive list of blogs, however it is probably the best go-to point to see what is new with frequent bloggers all over the world, and still stands up as being the most complete list of typewriter blogs currently available. The ‘where in the world’ function is especially fun, although sadly it still thinks I’m in Brisbane, and it links to my old blog page (ahem… guys! over here!)
I’ll click on this link probably once or twice a day. While I often talk in email or via other channels with members of the typosphere, there’s nothing quite like seeing a well considered and worded blog post on a topic. And yes, there’s also some less well considered and worded posts as well, but we don’t talk about those.
The Typewriter Database.
I’m going to just come right out and say it. Ted, (the owner of this page) you’re freakin’ awesome.
Ted’s done some incredible work with the TWDB and deserves a huge pat on the back for his efforts. I dare say that by now Ted probably has worn his fingers down to tiny nubs while coding this page and is probably typing with his nose, so I’m kinda surprised that he would even be able to use a typewriter.
But the TWDB is the place you want to be if you’re really getting into collecting typewriters. The serial number database is constantly growing, and Ted often blogs about updates. It is one of the best places to find what year your typewriter was made, but Ted has taken this page much further than just being a serial numbers list. You can also database your collection online complete with photos and type samples. It has facilities to link to your blog or web posts on your typewriter, and even allows you to quickly share posts from your collection to social media. Further, it allows other collectors to comment on and discuss your databased items. This allows collectors to show each other their collections in a virtual space while allowing them to compare notes and discuss their collection items directly.
Yahoo Typewriters Forum.
This is what I call the ‘serious mens page’. Imagine the typosphere was a business/industry conference. This page would the be equivalent of the big talks with the masters of their field part of the conference. The forum has been running for so long that it has a valuable back-catalog of somewhat difficult to search postings that stretches right back to 1999.
Back when iMacs used to look like this…..
Anyway. Due to the long-running nature of the forum, it has been seen as one of the original typewriter communities online, and as such has a strong following with collectors and writers that have invaluable knowledge and resources. The people that frequent this page are some of the most experienced technical minds of the typewriter trade that are still on earth. If you have a question about fixing your machine, or even about life in the industry of yesteryear, this is the page to drop by. Just be mindful that this page is largely filled with men who love to dig deeply and earnestly into the knowledge and the jargon they have accumulated and used for many decades, and as such it can often be seen as inaccessible by some. The straight-to-the-point men’s shed feel isn’t something that everyone will feel is very warm.
Yahoo Portable Typewriter Forum.
This is something of a special interest group that shot off from the side of the main Yahoo typewriter group. In saying that however, there’s something different about the people that prefer portable typewriters. The nature of portables is such, that the people that are most interested in them tend to look at machines that are of the modern era – an era that was heralded by the advent of rapid development of cheap, market competing typewriters. This means there’s a lot more living memory about many of the topics that might be discussed, which lends itself to feel a little more personal.
This has led to the frequenters of this page being quite a different group to the other group. It is a little more conversational and more often visited by individuals who often have less technical knowledge of the machines they are passionate about. That isn’t to say that there’s not some knowledgeable minds following the conversations on here, but it feels a little more socially accessible. As such it is a great place for really interested individuals to talk about their portable typewriters.
But like the other group it does have a technical focus, so it is still a great place to talk about repairs and restoration projects.
Typewriter Talk forum.
Typewriter talk is an interesting forum that’s also worth a visit. It is hosted on “board host”, which is a forum system that has the advantage of allowing people to separate conversations into organised topics. This means that people looking for technical conversation can shoot straight to the conversations they want to have, while others that want to do a ‘show and chat’ can head elsewhere. The board was originally set up when the main moderator got fed-up with the awfully clunky system Yahoo uses to run their groups pages. Although there was some motivation when the same moderator also found some of the personalities on Yahoo somewhat grating.
But while the board hosts system allows for superior organisation of discussions with a very simple interface, it’s using a system that hasn’t changed since… oh, Apple computers looked like this:
As such, I find it incredibly hard on the eye, and I don’t visit all that often – despite being an otherwise well-organised space with lots of discussions. Generally the posters are quite social and passionate, and the general feel of the discussion is somewhat younger.
Facebook: Antique Typewriter Collectors Page.
I suspect this page started out with a distinct purpose, but in the last year or so has become something else: a vibrant online community of all kinds of collectors and typewriter lovers.
This page isn’t what I would call an organised event. Actually, it is more like the after-convention get-togeather at the local pub. When it comes to typewriter communities this is as casual as it gets while still having something of a dress-code. As far as forums go, Facebook’s groups function is completely disorganised garbage that is unsearchable. Where it does shine is when you just want to have a casual chat to like minded typospherians and typosaurians. There’s usually some machine that someone wants to show off here, and there’s plenty of experts and would-be experts to lend an opinion. It’s something of a chat lounge that is best enjoyed by simply going with the flow.
I personally have an intense love-hate relationship with Facebook, and this group is about the only thing that has me consistently wanting to log in. The very casual nature of the group means that we see all kinds of interesting people float by and join in without the feeling of needing to make a long-term commitment. There’s also the occasional personality clash, but that tends to move on quickly as for the most part typewriter lovers seem to be nice and forgiving people.
One of the best advantages with this group, is that you can quickly and very easily add video, photos and links to specific pages, to help others with questions they may have. I have repeatedly used this advantage to assist people with technical questions by shooting a quick video to help them, which I then upload for everyone to see and possibly learn from.
Facebook: Typewriter classifieds.
It isn’t the most exposed place to sell your typewriter, but it is a great place to share listings with other collectors. While this isn’t special on its own, often collectors will use this space to show each other typewriters that are advertised online, that they themselves may not be selling.
Why would you do that? Well, I’m glad you asked. If you’re selling a typewriter it is sometimes good to highlight some of the over-priced and poorly conditioned crap that often fills up ebay or craigslist and gumtree. As current advertisements are banned on the Facebook collectors group (remember that dress code I mentioned before?) some of advertisements actually down-right funny and worth sharing so others can go and look at the awful details. Again, this is more for fun than anything but it does make the group worth visiting every so often.
Twitter Hashtag Typewriter.
There’s worse things you can do with your evening than scroll through the twitter typewriter hashtags. But I’ll be blunt, it is often a torrent of absolute s**t that despite supposedly being ‘social networking’, is amazingly disconnected from the things that make us as human. Less warm than the yahoo typewriter forum, while being less organised than the Facebook Typewriter Collectors group the #typewriter stream on twitter doesn’t seem to provide a lot of real value other than a lengthy stream of other people’s typewriter boast, brain-farts and impulses.
To be fair, I suck at twitter so I may not be getting the most out of it. But of all the pages I have listed here, I feel that twitter provides the least value to collectors and enthusiasts while providing a very strong and consistent stream of stuff that may be interesting. However it is a great way to see typewriters from people who aren’t quite so…. heavily involved in collecting them.
A couple of typopshere members have mentioned that there’s a couple of other community locations that are worth visiting.
Richard Polt pointed out to me that instagram. Instagram is a little tricky to access via your computer, and really is a photo community that links via smartphone. But you can see most of the activity on a computer be clicking on this link (provided by Richard. Thanks!) https://instagram.com/explore/tags/typewriter/.
Ana B pointed out that there’s actually a Typopshere hashtag that is quite popular on Twitter. Which you can look at via https://twitter.com/search?q=%23typosphere&src=typd
There’s also the Collexions website. This is a professional site that runs on a pinterest like platform. However it does seem to be skewed towards e-commerce trading for collectors, and as such the social networking side is a bit clunky. I don’t see it as a community page as it has become harder and harder to wade past the people trying to hock you product, to have a look at other collections on there by typewriter enthusiasts. But it was worth a look at least once. Pop over to http://collexion.com .
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So there you have it. My picks of the community pages that you should check out at least once. Who knows… you might even make some friends, start your own blog and after 215 postings on your blog also want to share with your typewriter friends the fact that they’re the reason your still addicted and not going to typewriter re-hab.
Thanks typosphere. Thanks.