TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  10-10-2001 on 06:12 a.m.
Dear folks -

Both Pat Weiler and Steve Price, have in other threads, alluded to the possibility that it is sometime possible for us to do things on a board like Turkotek, that are not really available within some other medium or media.

Some of these aspects of information technology may seem too obvious to state, but I'd like to devote this thread to listing the various features of this medium that we discern, both advantageous and limiting.

I have from the start (that is, when we were working only with email messages and attached images) been most impressed with the way in which this medium expands and accelerates "information flow."

I remember an early email exchange that started when someone sent to three others four attached images of a rug and asked some questions about it.

This person was in Virginia, I am in Washington, D.C., a third person was on the West Coast and the fourth in Boston.

We exchanged a few thoughts and then said amongst our selves that the person we really needed in the conversation was in England. So we forwarded the entire thread to him and drew him into the conversation.

He in turn said that we should actually have asked someone in St. Petersburg in Russia and so we sent the thread a second time.

In about two days the person in Russia responded and we had our questions answered.

I see this as an instance of wonderful information flow. The chance that the six of us could readily be placed physically in the same conversation was miniscule. An exchange of this sort via a letters to the editor exchange in Hali would take months. But our international conversation about a few not earthshaking rug questions, took perhaps four or five days, beginning to end.

The ease and flexibility of information flow in this medium is astounding. And when one resorts to a board such as Turkotek, the potential number of participants in the conversation is expanded greatly and often in ways that are wonderfully serrendipitous. You can never tell on a given day, who might be reading the sentences you write in a post here, what they might know and how when they respond, the conversation will move next.

I continually find it a thing of real wonder, palpable value and endless enjoyment.

What features of this medium attract your eye?


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  10-10-2001 on 06:37 a.m.
Hi John,

The speed of the medium is an obvious property, and the opportunity it presents for discussion is unmatched. Compare it to any printed periodical - even a daily newspaper.

A second is the nearly universal accessiblity to the internet among educated people all over the world.

A third is the flexibility it allows in presenting graphic information - photos of rugs, for instance. The previous Salon and accompanying discussion include about 70 full color pictures of rugs. That's a lot of photos in two weeks, and doesn't count the Show and Tell stuff that was going on simultaneously (8 topics at one point). The cost of something like this would quickly become prohibitive to many if it were in a print medium.


Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  10-12-2001 on 04:10 p.m.
Dear folks -

Despite the fact that I think the nature of the medium we're in here has a number of aspects worth musing self-consciously about, this thread has not so far inspired much comment.

So let me muse a bit more myself.

One of the great advantages of this medium is that it permits us readily to create close-up larger than life images of rug structure for examination.

This makes it possible for folks not sufficiently patient or skilled to discern the technical characteristics of a weaving when they have it in their hands, to see and to learn things they would not otherwise see and learn.

The images and analysis that Daniel and Marla especially provide are possible primarily because of the capabilities of electronic information world in which this site resides. The larger than life images are enabling in our examination of structure.

I've been wondering whether there are systematic relationships of this sort to notice.

Someone said that the more something is like a "commodity" the more likely it is that this medium will be successful in projecting its qualities accurately.

I looked up "commodities" to make sure I was using the sense closest to what this speaker likely intended and I think he was referring to something like the "wheat" or "corn" on one hand and "precious metals" on another.

And I'm not sure he's exactly right but I think he is on to something worth noticing.

This medium is better suited to the compehensive needs of people who collect coins than it is to those of those who collect rugs.

It seems that the coin collector can determine nearly every aspect of the qualities that are important to coin collectors on the basis of the sort of images we use here. Perhaps only color and patina are problematic for coin collectors.

And rug collectors can see some things that interest them very well on their monitors. Designs and direct scans of structure are readily assessed. Color and wool quality cannot really be determined with until a piece is in your handsaccuracy. (Those of us who sometimes buy on the interenet without return privileges learn to pray a lot.)

Books seem somewhere in between. You can usually accurately determine a number of the qualities of a book offered on the Internet (but maybe Jerry and some others will correct me here).

You can't feel the quality of the paper, the colors in any illustrations are going to be troublesome as they are with rugs, and the security of the binding might also slip by, but I've bought quite a few books on the internet and have been disappointed infrequently.

I'm not sure what the best ways are to describe systematically the advantages and disadvantages of this medium for protraying various qualities accurately but I think that there are likely some.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  Jerry Silverman mailto:%20rug_books@silvrmn.com
Date  :  10-12-2001 on 08:12 p.m.
Here's the deal with books on the Internet, John.

Books are perfect examples of "commodities." Unless something has gone horribly wrong at the printer, each copy is just like the next.

What separates them are condition and association. (Rug collectors can quit reading now. What follows is for rug BOOK collectors.)

Like everything else that is collected, condition is the most significant variable in the desireability and, consequently, price of a book. Used book dealers have a more or less rigorous formula for what qualifies as "fine," "very good," "good," "fair," and "poor" or "reading copy." There are pluses and minuses. VG+ is better than VG, but not as good as NF (near fine). If the book came with a dust jacket, its condition must also be noted. What you wind up with is something like VG+/G for a book that is in VG+ condition in a G dust jacket. Clear?

The price of non-fiction books, like rug books, is less affected by condition than in the case of fiction books. The difference between a F/F first edition of "Gone With The Wind" and a VG+/VG+ might be as much as 100% more. The difference between a F/F first edition of Schurmann's "Caucasian Rugs" and a VG+/VG+ might be more like 10%-20%. That's because people who buy rug books are usually buying them for their reference/information value and are loathe to pay a premium for a pristine copy. COLLECTORS, however, prefer perfection. There just aren't nearly as many rug book collectors as rug collectors who want rug books.

The other variable is association. Rug book collectors prefer a copy that has been signed by the author. Or better still, signed by the author and inscribed to a noted rug collector. If that F/F copy of Schurmann's "Caucasian Rugs" was signed by Schurmann to his dear friend Charles Grant Ellis - well, then, there's going to be an additional premium in the price. It might be as much as another 25%.

Scans or pictures of books can give you a pretty good idea of the condition. If the book is being offered by a professional bookseller, the condition description should inform about all possible defects. Are the hinges "starting?" Is the text block solid? Is the old paper "foxing?" Water damage? Was it rebound? If so, was it done well? If it's leather-bound, what condition is the leather in?

The problem is that many rug books on auction sites are offered by non-professionals who don't know how to accurately describe condition (or don't consider it important). That's where the disappointments can happen. The only way around this is to ask lots of questions and, if possible, get a guarantee of returnability.

Keep these points in mind and you should have few problems buying rug books on-line.

I've bought hundreds.



Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  Patrick Weiler mailto:%20theweilers@home.com
Date  :  10-13-2001 on 12:54 a.m.

One of the features of Turkotek is that it brings the broader aspects of the international field of rug studies into the homes of interested collectors in the farthest reaches of the hinterlands. Your reports from the Textile Museum are a case in point. Not many of us live close enough, or could afford, to travel to the seminars there.
Interaction with rug study luminaries such as Marla Mallett, Tom Cole, Wendell Swan, Steve Price ( ) and others provides us with an unparalleled opportunity to participate in the evolution of knowledge in the field.
I suspect that this proximity to progress encourages us in our own attraction to rugs and increases the interest we have in pursuing further knowledge and expanding our collections. Knowing more about this fascinating subject motivates a desire to learn and accumulate, with a more advanced and experienced eye for quality and value.
This maturation process is only favorable to those who supply the weavings and books to a more and more demanding and informed market. This alone should encourage the experts in the field to participate more frequently to Turkotek.

Patrick Weiler

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  Richard Farber mailto:%20farberr@netvision.net.il
Date  :  10-13-2001 on 03:41 a.m.
thank you Mr. Weiler

Dear gang of 8

I recall enjoying Mr. Howe's sharing of his expiriences with meetings at the DC textile museum. Perhaps this could be expanded and we could share more meetings of clubs and societies and musuems . . . I'm sure that there are groups in Europe and many many in the States.

Just imagine a salon with good images about a meeting of the > lower upper northland turkoman society> with reports on the ideas presented. this would surely be a way for internet uses to in some way share the activities around the globe . . . just the people reporting would have to be serious about finding the ideas thrown arond in themeeting and not just the gossip and images


Richard Farber

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  10-13-2001 on 06:37 a.m.
Pat, Richard -

I have a couple of sets of photos that are potential instances of what you cite and suggest here.

I have perhaps 30 images of a presentation that Saul Baradofsky made at the TM almost a year ago. This session had some wonderful old material in it. Saul's rug business requires lots of his time and we've not gotten the needed explanatary essay written, but that sort of thing does seem useful to lots of Turkotek visitors and participants. And it is one of the sorts of thing that this medium makes possible.

And to follow Richard's suggestion, last week I took perhaps 50 photos of a session of our local rug club on Northwest Persian rugs given by Wendel Swan and Bob Emry with some additional material provided by such serious collectors as Michael Seidman. Again, I need to get an accompanying essay written but that will come, perhaps in the form of a salon.

Richard is right about the best session of this sort being one in which more substantial comment can be provided. That's not always possible and often we have to retreat to providing the images and something a bit more superficial, although often still enjoyable.

I've not done this kind of thing as often recently as in the past because I've had sometimes some objections from folks who said they were surprised and not gratified to find a piece of theirs that they had brought to a TM event suddenly published on the internet.

I will potentially have this problem tomorrow morning when I take my camera to the wonderful show and tell that is the climax of the Textile Museum Rug Convention which is going on here this weekend.

We'll see what I can do with those images.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:The Nature of the Medium
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  10-13-2001 on 06:47 a.m.
Dear folks -

This refers to Jerry Silverman's nice explication of how book buying "fits" this medium.

Jerry notes that books are "nearly perfect" instance of commodities and therefore well-suited for collector purchase in this medium.

But he also indicates that the big variable for book collectors is "condition" and then demonstrates that the main device for both indicating and estimating this for books is the development of a fairly precise descriptive language that is apparently adhered to by sellers sufficiently to keep buyers happy.

So while books may be a good instance of a commodity, it appears that good information about the chief quality of concern to book collectors, condition, is not dependent much at all on the character of this medium. And in truth, I used to peruse the written want ads of "Antique Week" and had similar successful experiences buying books there too.

Thanks, Jerry,

R. John Howe

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