Learn a skillset

When I first bought a bike for serious commuting, I knew I was going to live at least an hour away from a decent bike mechanic. After explaining my situation, I asked the shop if they had any recommendations for learning basic bicycle maintenance. They mentioned Park Tool’s website. Today, I’d add their YouTube channel to the list.

It makes sense, right? If you make nice tools, you want people to feel comfortable doing their own work. Otherwise you can only sell to shops. I’ve noticed that the same holds in woodworking. Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, which has a nice Education section on their website and a YouTube channel.

Nikon has a fairly extensive set of resources for beginning photographers, so it looks like photo equipment manufacturer’s have known about this for a while too.

Software examples also exist. Apple’s Swift resources come to mind immediately.

Now, of course each is going to show you how to use its own products, but the skills and concepts are usually generalizable. With the exception of Swift, you probably can use a competitor’s tools, and learn just as well from many of these tutorials.

So, if you want to learn anything new, one place to start learning might be a manufacturer’s website… even if it’s a competitor’s website.

Pick a brand that’s serious

You can also glean an additional piece of information. Each of these four examples are generally viewed as high-end. Sure, debate Nikon vs. Canon or Apple vs. Microsoft, or Park Tool vs. Pedros tools, etc. (even ad nauseam I won’t stop you). But you see what I mean, right?

This suggests to me that a company with a good education section on their website probably has a good reputation. If it doesn’t yet, it may soon. The vision and profit margin good necessary to create this stuff suggest that company that teaches intends to stick around.

So you can use the existence of educational content to help you choose a brand. It’s not dispositive, but it’s a useful piece of information.