As the year ends and it is always a good time to look back and look ahead, and especially so the online world of the horn as we approach the tenth anniversary of Horn Matters.
Not long ago, of course, there was no online community of any sort related to the horn. All you had that was of a similar nature in terms of content was The Horn Call and print newsletters. In a way that may have been a better world. Horn playing is an analog activity, and studies have shown that social media use increases depression and loneliness. Playing horn is better for your mental health!
E-mail, then Facebook
In any case, our Internet horn world really got going with the era of the horn E-mail groups, which after a time died, and regrouped to a new discussion format, most notably as the Horn People group on Facebook.
Of course now, if you are a Facebook user you know that some people have completely left the platform, and you probably know people who also seem to have it as their personal mission to drive people off the platform. Surveys are showing that increasing numbers of people are deleting the app from their phones. The main reason to leave I think is people do not want social media time to be an aggravating experience. Facebook is usable still, but you really have to work to keep from seeing politics, etc., if that is not what you want to see.
I spend much less time on Facebook now than I did a few years back. One thing that keeps it usable for me is that almost all of my Facebook friends are people I know or have at least met in real life. The overall number is not that large really, and I do not aim to use my personal Facebook as a platform for self-promotion. The other thing that helps is I use it to follow several different non-horn interests.
What about magazines?
A more serious point worth adding is that people also do not read magazines so much these days either, circulations are in steep decline. Where people used to turn to The Horn Call first, now they turn to a search engine on the Internet.
This is a shame in a way, as my observation would be one of the main reasons people in past years became members of the IHS was to get The Horn Call. I got interested enough in this general question to run a brief Twitter survey; I did not get a huge response, but the results were a confirmation that it has been a prime motivation for I believe a lot of members. I personally initially joined to read The Horn Call, but today, much as people do not buy physical CDs, now they also do not buy magazines a lot either.
If my theory is correct, this is driving a problem for the IHS; their annual reports show they have been losing members for several years. It will be interesting to see how they respond to this challenge. The overall trend is beyond their control, but they will have to adjust something to stem the decline in membership.
What are your alternates to Facebook? One to consider is Twitter, a robust platform that works great on a phone or iPad. Ideal for microblogging, Twitter has developed a reputation for being a place full of trolls and extreme partisanship. In my opinion, there are an excessive number of anonymous accounts. On the other hand, you have a lot of control over what you see, and I do enjoy using Twitter.
I will throw out there at this point that there are horn figures and societies that do not seem to have any idea how to run their social media. In particular you will find there are Twitter accounts that are mostly auto-tweets of Facebook or Instagram posts, or generated automatically by posting or liking videos. I do not follow them.
For disclosure, I started the IHS Facebook page, but have not run it in years and years. I do not think anyone is specifically tasked with running the IHS Twitter or Instagram accounts at all. I do not understand why this is such a low priority. The British Horn Society for example is doing a lot better job and is well worth the follow on Twitter, as is especially the ITG. If the IHS could run a Twitter account even half as good as the ITG account that would be amazing for promotion of the horn.
Back before Facebook took off one of the great ways to read actual articles was with Google Reader. That platform is long gone, but I have recently started using Feedly. It works as Google Reader generally did, but has a few more options and works well on your phone. I have Horn Matters among other things in my feed, including news sites divided into several categories of content, and I love the low drama. Who needs drama! As noted already, I personally have dialed back the other social media.
The big picture
Going back to a bigger picture issue to close, while this is a golden age for Internet resources, how long will it last, and what will be the consequences of ignoring print resources? And then coming soon you have possible/probable big changes to the Internet itself, such as the proposed German copyright law that has made recent news. It will all be something to watch, there will be as much change in the next ten years as has been seen in the past ten years.