David C, you wrote:
"If I was on a small boat in the middle of the ocean or even a large ship could I navigate? The answer is most likely no! I have no practical experience."
I'm confident you would do just fine! What makes you think otherwise? That's why scientific navigation was developed: so that little art was left in it. If you learn the basics, and take a handful of practice sights, you can navigate straight away. Avoiding sea sickness while taking sights -- now that may take some experience. But nobody said it would be fun! Ha.
Of the zany old usenet days, you wrote:
"As a grumpy old man who joined the internet when usenet was the means of communication I find navlist and similar forums very comforting - a simple means of communication free of the rubbish that is (IMHO) Facebook. FWIIW a while ago on facebook I used the expression AFAIK and had to explain myself to the digital generation."
That's interesting. You refer to usenet as "the" means of communication. I've been online on a daily basis since 1991, and I always considered usenet an "also ran". It was free --it had that going for it-- but it was a swampland of relatively complicated infrastructure and "kooky" people. By contrast, Compuserve and AOL were slick and filled with smart people (in the early days), but you had to pay. There are several members of NavList whom I originally met in the late 1990s on Compuserve. One NavList member has even managed to keep his compuserve email address after all these years.
Folks still sometimes get entirely the wrong idea about Facebook. It's most popular with parents and grandparents --not kids (and for many of those grandparents, it's still necessary to explain that LOL means "laughing out loud" and not "lots of love" so never mind AFAIK! ;) ). I don't know who your audience was who didn't know that old expression "AFAIK" but your identification of Facebook with the "digital generation" is far off. Facebook is considered terribly "un-cool" (or whatever they call it) by the young, especially the digitally-sophisticated, and actually Facebook is a favorite of people with grey hair and beginner's level tech skills. Among the most popular groups on FB are nostalgia and local history groups. I follow a group consisting of little more than memories and photos from the "Block Island Ferry" --just stories about riding the various ferries that plied the route out to that New England island over the past fifty years. It's quaint. It's nostalgia. And it's very popular! I strongly encourage all the "old men" (hey, we're not old! ...merely old-ER) of NavList to give Facebook a try again if you dismissed it at first glance as a place for young people. You were wrong if you thought that. Make no mistake, I'm not suggesting it's edifying. It has little merit for interesting discussions, like here, but once in a while they do happen. It's more about getting to know families and pets and living circumstances, senses of humor and tastes in music and sports --all the things that you rarely learn about in a community devoted to "serious" discussion, like NavList, and it's about catching up with people you haven't communicated with in years. It's social. And it's lite.
You also wrote:
"I suggest that forums such as this are like cell nav. They are dying, being kept alive by a few enthusiasts."
Ya know, I used to follow a little forum maintained by and frequented by a few enthusiasts, devoted to a nice narrow subject: museum submarines. You can visit their forum: http://www.submarinemuseums.org/forum/. It thrived for seven or eight years, with lots of posts and uploads, and then it died, almost completely. It died mostly because the locals were happy with their fellow locals and created no opportunities for newcomers. It became a private club, unintentionally. There was also a definite tendency for users to take their conversations private -- it's an unfortunate and apparently natural "hermit" behavior in tech communities. The manager of the site also left the interface as it was when it opened, and it grew stale. Gardens die when they are untended and unwatered. Don't let that happen to NavList. :)