Smoking Pipe Tobacco in the 21st Century

Things have changed over the decades for the pipe smoker. Smoking pipe tobacco in the company of fellow smokers has become increasingly difficult. The numbers of pipe smokers are thinning and legislation has pushed us out of many of the traditional social gathering spots we used to gather in. Pipe smokers need not despair! Smoking pipe tobacco need not be a solitary pursuit!

Enter the Internet

The Internet brought some of us together on Usenet groups like alt.smokers.pipe and other discussion forums. Online auction sites blew the estate pipe market into another dimension. Tobacconists took their trade to the Web and provided pipe smokers an unprecedented range of tobaccos. Top blenders like Greg Pease shrewdly rode this wave to success as did a range of pipe carvers. Needless to say, the Internet has breathed life into our hobby and community.

Enter Web 2.0

Pipe smokers can not rest on these laurels. The Internet is rapidly evolving and we can keep up. There is no need not to. With the advances and innovations in technology, not only are the ways pipe smokers can interact, share, and discuss smoking pipe tobacco improving, they are becoming easier. At the dawn of the Internet, it required a fair amount of technical savvy just to set up an email account and download messages.

With the advent of Web based email, if you can type your name, point with a mouse, and click, you have what it takes to use email proficiently. Today, if you have what it takes to use Web mail, you have all the skill required to set up and post to your own blog, instantly broadcast updates and thoughts to all your friends, and keep up with what is on their mind.

How the New Web Can Help Pipe Smokers

Here is an example of how things have advanced. Imagine you are in the next state, spending time with family and during an outing you visit a flea market where you see a cluster of old pipes. While pipes are always a welcome sight, the seller wants a little more for them than you wish to spend considering none of them are of a shape you would appreciate in your collection.

Nonetheless you want to mark the occasion by posting a picture of them on your blog. You pull out your mobile phone, snap the picture, select an email address, hit send, and put the mobile phone back in your pocket and go about your business.

Ten minutes later, your mobile phone vibrates alerting you of a text message. You check it and see:

"Hope you snagged those, that apple looks just like this"

There is a Internet address that takes you to a online auction page where you confirm a pipe of the same shape and brand has recently sold for ten times what the seller at the flea market is asking for a starting price on the entire lot. I'll leave the rest of the story to your imagination.

This is not to suggest that impetus for taking full advantage of this second evolution of the Web - Web2.0 is to make money. I am only illustrating what is available. What just happened in the story took place because the pipe smoker had a blog - maybe a blog dedicated to smoking pipe tobacco, or pipes specifically, or everything that interests him.

He was also networked with other pipe smokers - he followed their blogs, they followed his. He was involved in a community of sorts - a community of pipe smokers from all over who shared his love for the hobby. One of those fellows was available to him on the spot because of the new Web.

He had set up his blog so he could post from his mobile phone. He used a micro blog service to keep up with his friends via short messages, and could receive those messages on his phone. The fellow pipe smoker who informed him of the auction saw the new post with the images because he subscribes to the RSS feed of everything of interest to him (including his friend's blog) so he can track all that information in one convenient place.

Ten short years ago there likely would have been no digital picture taken because digital cameras were cost prohibitive, while now they are standard in nearly every mobile phone you buy today. If he did have the digital picture, it likely wouldn't have been transmitted by cell phone. If he even remembered the pipes at the flea market when he returned home, he likely wouldn't have even bothered telling anyone about it. Now that you are convinced you
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there is plenty for pipe smokers to take advantage of regarding Web2.0 I'll go over some of the tools out there that will be of most benefit to pipe smokers.

Blogs

Blogs are you broadcasting what is important to you to the world. Originally they were called web logs. People would update their static web site every day like a journal or diary. Soon software was developed to make the process of making these updates easier and quicker and web logs took off, and the name was shortened to blog. Your blog is what you want it to be. It can be lengthy detailed descriptions or reports on something and updated every day or every hour, or it can be short, casual, infrequent posts.

Today blogs are as easy to set up and use as a web based email account. The best ones are free. If you can write an email, you can post to a blog. You can write about your pipe collection, a new pipe tobacco blend you just tried, or share your thoughts on some fresh bit of pipe or tobacco related news that just hit the streets.

Micro blogs

Micro blogs (Twitter is probably the most popular.) are one of the oddest developments to come along. At first glance, most people see no desirable benefit in having one or looking at those of others. I confess falling in that category myself initially.

Then I found out what they are capable of. When used properly, micro blog services fit in the flow of your life and what you are doing which means they are easier and faster than things you already use like email. You can post to them and read them from your computer or on the go with a mobile device.

They allow direct messages to specific individuals only, or messaged to everyone flagged for the attention of a friend or two, or you can shout out to everyone you want.

If you are a pipe smoker and visited a Internet forum dedicated to pipe smoking, you may have noticed "what are you smoking now" threads, or maybe online auction finds. What you post to a micro blog is limited by your imagination and usually 140 characters which is about one sentence or two.

RSS - Browsing the Web is for dinosaurs

Maybe you have seen the little orange button while browsing the web and wondered exactly what that is for. It is a link to that web site's feed. This "feed" allows the raw content, text, video, audio, images to be syndicated elsewhere.

What this means for the end user is they can pipe in feeds from all their favorite sources of information on the Internet into one location. As a developer from Google put it: "it's like an inbox for the Web." This is another one of those features out there that you won't appreciate fully until you've tried it and learned to use it effectively.

These are but a few of the dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of services and applications out there on the new Web that can and will benefit the pipe smokers who try them and integrate into their hobby. If you want to make your community of fellow pipe smokers larger and tighter while giving yourself the opportunity to learn even more about the hobby, start investigating these services and make sure you have brought your hobby into the 21st Century.

Eric Lauritzen has been creating content for the internet since 1995 and smoking a pipe even longer. One of Eric's goals is bringing fellow pipe smokers around the world together by teaching them to take advantage of new technology available with Web2.0. Among other projects he writes about these and other pipe smoking-related pursuits at http://smokingpipetobacco.com

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Author: Eric Lauritzen