I still remember the conversation. I was a freshman in high school, but I had the idea of taking auto mechanics during summer school. Dad told me that he would always pay for me to take a class because in the end, knowledge can never be taken away from you. I didn’t take the class. I can’t remember why. But his statement and philosophy has stayed with me forever. Although it sounds cheesy, I consider myself a lifelong learner. So, when I entered the world of prepping, I combined my love of learning with what I know of technology and learned a lot fast.
Information is growing at exponential rates ( see – http://www.emc.com/leadership/digital-universe/expanding-digital-universe.htm). Lucky for us, that the exponential growth of digital media, includes information that is greatly valuable to preppers. It used to be that you would have to take a class, buy a book or find someone with knowledge of a skill to learn and grow yourself in the arena of the “lost arts.” But that is not the case anymore. Turn on your laptop, get an internet connection and you are well on your way to learning the knowledge behind valuable skills to get you through any crisis that might be headed your way.
Blogs & Readers
There are so many great blogs out in the blogosphere. And because so many good blogs are linked to each other, in no time, you can have a serious amount of prepping, survival, bushcraft, and homesteading blogs bookmarked in your browser.
So, the unknowing prepper will start to visit each of these blogs on a regular basis to check for new content and information that will help in the quest to self-sufficiency. However, traveling from blog to blog on a regular basis will get tiring and old, especially if you don’t find any new articles. The tendency after a while might be to start skipping out on checking your favorite blogs. But then, you might miss out on some great information. This is where blog readers come in.
A blog reader or RSS reader, captures the RSS feed from a blog. The reader then displays every blog or RSS feed in one convenient place. Blogs that have been updated or shown to be updated show all in one place and allows you to quickly browse through the new topics and select the articles that are truly of interest to you.
There are many readers out there. But my favorite right now is Google Reader. It is easy to use and you can get your feeds anywhere you have an internet connection, including your mobile phone. Check out this link to see a quick video that explains Google Reader – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSPZ2Uu_X3Y . And, you can visit this link for a short how-to-video on how to use Google Reader – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltttw5yORv8 NOTE: Google Reader has just been updated. The video describes the old Google Reader. However, the new Google Reader functions the same.
If you don’t like Google products, there is a free piece of software that I used before Google. It is a stand-alone reader that downloads to your desktop. It is a little dated and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it will keep your anonymity. The program is called Bottom Feeder. There are also others. A quick search will point you in the right direction.
I created two videos on blogs for a teacher staff development a while back that might be beneficial on searching for and understanding blogs as well. Part 1 – http://www.screencast.com/users/tsepulveda/folders/Jing/media/ed7d0e6d-6c1d-4daf-9e6b-d9007e76df8d
I have to admit, there are times I feel like a prepping noob. But for me, this next technology is a no-brainer! YouTube is a great place to get informed on specific skills for prepping. For instance, I didn’t grow up hunting and fishing with my dad, so I don’t even know the first place to start when it comes to skinning an animal or gutting a fish. But I can see it on Youtube! I can see it over and over and even ask the author or uploader of the video a question. The great thing is that many of the people who upload videos to Youtube have the heart of a teacher and choose to do so to help others along.
One video that was very helpful to me was how to use a mylar bag for food storage. Now, I know that this skill is basic common knowledge for most, but I had never done it. I easily found articles and even pictures on how to do it, but it wasn’t the same as seeing someone do it right in front of my eyes. I felt comfortable that I wouldn’t make huge mistakes when my bags finally came in….And I didn’t.
Once you find a great prepping video, take some time to click on the uploader’s name and checkout their “channel.” They might have a ton of other videos that will help you in your prepping. For an example, check out Southern Prepper’s channel.
Some of you might be wondering, “why in the world is Twitter included here!” Most of you would be right to think this. I don’t necessarily care to read 140 characters worth of someone telling me their every move. “I’m at the store #groceries.” “I’m in the #dairy section.” “I’m checking out #plastic bags.” That’s not what Twitter is about.
Twitter is about sharing articles, blogs and other information that you might not have otherwise seen. For example, let’s say that I’m following @prepperwebsite. The Prepper Website posts a link to an article on a new blog that I have never heard of before. The article is great and I realize that the other posts on this blog are very valuable too. I might add that blog to my Google Reader.
Other information that might be shared might be news that is not being run by the mainstream media. It is a way of communication that has reshaped how people communicate.
Another thing you might want to do is to follow a trend or a search word. Many people who use Twitter include hashtags to their tweets. A hashtag is a way to set-off a certain term or idea on Twitter. So if I post something about prepping, I might include the hash tag #prepper in my tweet.
Go try it! Go to www.twitter.com and type in #preppertalk in the search box. Try #preparedness, #foodstorage and #survival too! Try anything that you are interested in. For something to show up in Google’s search engine takes a few days. However, the search results in Twitter are real time and you can find new information quickly.
A word of warning – When you use Twitter in this way, it can be addictive. You can find yourself searching, linking and reading so much information that you lose track of what you were there for.
Check out this video I did on using Twitter for Lifelong Learning.
Lastly, I will touch on podcasts. Podcasts are audio posts. When someone creates a podcast, they upload it for anyone on the internet to listen to. Most of the time, you can go directly to someone’s web site and listen to the podcast. However, that means that you have to be at your computer, or at least close to it. But just like there are blog readers, there are podcast catchers.
Podcast catchers work exactly the same way as blog readers do. You have to find the RSS feed and put it in your podcast catcher. After you do that, the podcast is downloaded directly to your hard drive where you can put it on your Ipod or mp3 player. Now if you have an Ipod and Itunes, this is a pretty easy setup. You just have to search for podcasts in your desired field of interest. The podcast will be “placed” or “sync’d” with your Ipod when you connect it. If you have an mp3 player, it is a matter of going to the download folder and transferring it to your mp3 player, usually a drag and drop feature as most mp3 players are recognized as another portable drive on your computer.
To see an example video of a podcast catcher in action, click here – http://www.screencast.com/t/YWVhODNl .
To download “Juice,” the podcast catcher, go here: http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/
To search for podcasts, you can visit – http://www.podcastalley.com/index.php .
Recently, I have left my mp3 player behind for podcasts and just use my smart phone. I recently upgrade to an android phone and downloaded the App “Beyond Pod.” I search for my favorite survival podcasts and listen to them on the way to work through my car stereo system. It is so convenient.
To maximize your prepping efforts, you need to be informed. Information is powerful. Information is necessary. And today, information is abundant. You just need to know where to look.
One last word, there is a difference between book knowledge and knowledge that is based on experience. After you find the information that you are searching for, you have to put it into practice. For instance, all the knowledge of gardening or skinning a rabbit doesn’t mean anything until you get your hands dirty…believe me, I know!
One last last word, a natural outflow of my learning has been my new web site. I started http://www.prepperwebsite.com two months ago and the response has been great. I read every article, listen to every podcast and watch every video I link. I also monitor every web site I link through Google Reader. The site is a great place to get a varied amount of prepping information in one place.