Commercially based sword shows throughout the world get some mixed results. The two most healthy are the San Francisco show in August and the Dai Token Ichi in Tokyo, which is usually in the first couple weeks of November now.
Sword shows serve a few purposes. They are social gatherings, educational opportunities, and then a chance to buy or sell things.
I’m of the opinion that the bell started tolling on sword shows a while back, for many combined reasons and the process is a drawn out death spiral.
Importantly, I don’t want this to be read as criticism for show organizers. Building something, anything, is a complex task and usually people underestimate the effort and stress that goes into these things. I have never organized a sword show and I don’t know the pain and suffering involved, I absolutely do know though that organizing anything involving people on a large scale is like herding cats. Not an easy task.
But I think these shows are mostly on the way out. Here’s what I think is wrong with them, and here is what I think the eventual solution is.
Continue reading Unpleasant Medicine for Sword Shows
I’ve been working on some tools to visualize data and see if the patterns allow for some new insights, or at least to confirm anecdotal evidence or gut level knowledge.
This below is a chart of sword lengths vs. year of production for all Juyo Token, Tokubetsu Juyo Token and Juyo Bijutsuhin swords. I cut the length off at 150 cm, as there are a scattering of outlier swords (odachi and onaginata) that will cause the chart to compress.
Anyway you should be able to look at this image and draw a few conclusions. What do you see?
Analysis after the break…
Continue reading Visualization
We have all experienced this I am sure. Probably we have been on both sides of this coin.
Someone you know consults with you for your opinion, no matter what the subject is. You give your opinion, if it is in disagreement with their own, they begin to argue with you.
When people ask for an opinion they are pursuing one of two goals: Education or Confirmation. In the case of someone seeking education they are trying to extract some information and update their own knowledge, either in the abstract or in the concrete (i.e. “what is this thing that I have”).
Based on people’s psychological makeup, and their reason for pursuing this hobby or anything similar, they will have a natural inclination to one path or the other. People who simply seek out confirmation will eventually find it, and they will sort out their opinions of everyone else based on whether or not they receive confirmation of their existing beliefs. It is not just with collectors of antiques or art, it goes for politics, religion, or who you think the best quarterback in the NFL is.
This flowchart illustrates the two different paths someone seeking education and someone seeking confirmation follow. This is very important to be aware of because it is human nature to seek out confirmation of our existing beliefs and biases. It interferes with our judgment and ability to learn when we seek confirmation instead of education.
Continue reading Asking and arguing
There has always been this phenomenon out there. But it seems to be getting worse. Treasure hunters everywhere want to be that guy who discovers something very important, both for the prestige, the thill and of course the valuation.
Importantly in digging up gold and diamonds: it certainly helps if you are a geologist.
The problem that people have is that they want to be the treasure hunter and make their big score, but they don’t have the background to understand what they are looking at. People have a very large emotional need to have their find confirmed.
I have encountered this attitude many times.
Continue reading But All My Friends Say It’s Good
I am starting to see more of this kind of thing online and I am happy to see it.
This Hasebe sword had old green papers and Aoi submitted it to get new NBTHK papers to clarify any doubts about the old attribution.
I have blogged many times that green papers = no papers, and this is what dealers should do when encountering green papered items. It is not only good for the buyer of this piece, it is good for the dealer, and good for the overall market.
This is what responsibility looks like.
Attributions are opinions. But they are the opinions of experts. I’ve written before on it but it bears some pounding on the table from time to time.
There is a strong libertarian school of thought in the sword market which is abused by sellers. This is based partially on calling out your manhood.
I don’t need papers to tell me what to think. Do you need papers to tell you what to think?
— Guy who probably should pay more attention to papers
For a mid level student, this calls their knowledge out on the floor and challenges it. Nobody wants to be the mid level guy to say yeah, I don’t know.
Continue reading Opinions Redux
Security theater is the practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to achieve it. Researchers such as Edward Felten have described the airport security repercussions due to the September 11, 2001 attacks as security theater.
Security theater works because people tend to have unrealistic expectations from not understanding the facts of the matter, and/or not wanting to accept their conclusions.
There is a way to fly safe. My system is very simple, 100% guarantees nobody will ever be injured by in-air terrorism again, and may in fact create a more pleasant flying environment for everyone.
Continue reading Security Theater
This is a common failure in markets where people do not have access to information. They begin to gut it out and lacking information consider all things to be equal. Then you get this question.
Exhibit A: 🎁 … this item has a price of $100.
Exhibit B: 📦 … this item has a price of $200.
Which is more expensive, A or B?
Continue reading Black Box
I toss this word around every now and then. This I think is a key element to understand, both when learning at the beginning of your studies and if you are able to acquire high quality pieces of any school or maker. These do not necessarily have to be Juyo or higher blades, the concept of archetypes apply everywhere.
Continue reading Archetype
A lot of these posts come about starting with emails I’ve sent that answer questions or are just part of an ongoing conversation about swords.
This came up today, which were some thoughts about the kinds of stuff people buy and collect. I grouped them into five categories. Maybe it needs more thinking but I think I’m vaguely correct.
These categories are:
- High Art
Continue reading Kinds of Stuff
So, there’s this thing, you don’t know anything about it but you’re a gambling man and you’re pretty smart. So you buy it. You’re buying it because you’re going to sell it later to someone else who doesn’t want to buy it now at $X, however that guy later will buy it for $X + $Y and that $Y is going to be your profit. This will take six months. You think this is reasonable.
To the bold go the spoils. Don’t worry about studying or knowing what you’re doing. Just jump in.
Continue reading Bitcoin
One word can bring the dancing thought of undiscovered treasure through your mind, and it can also bring the crushing thought of buying a fake.
eBay has its place as a useful tool, but there are a few things to keep in mind. None of this will be news for experienced collectors, but is a short overview for people new to this hobby.
Continue reading eBay
There are four stages to learning.
- Unconscious incompetence.
- Conscious incompetence.
- Conscious competence.
- Unconscious competence.
It’s generalizing, but it works on a practical level.
Continue reading Learning
My name is Darcy. I am a student from McGill University, and we are building a company focusing on using your NeXT machine and the Objective-C programming language. <insert long winded question here about business>.
What do you think the right thing to do is?
I don’t know.
Continue reading I Don’t Know