How our hobbies have changed: Then and now

Access to fast broadband is changing the way Australians indulge their hobbies and connect with their peers.

Outside of the things we need to do in our day-to-day lives, are the things we want to do.

It might be the little side-projects we can immerse ourselves in when we’re not working, or simply catching up on Westworld or Game of Thrones. They can give us pleasure and a sense of reward and satisfaction that is uplifting and cleansing.

These are our hobbies, and don’t we all wish we had more time and space to spend on these little quirks in our personalities?

Some hobbies have been around seemingly forever, but over recent years, drastically improved internet infrastructure and the ability to connect and grow with likeminded people from all over the world has changed the way many Australians have indulged in this pastime.

The humble hobby, oftentimes neglected for days or months on end, is becoming a daily routine.

It’s even allowing some to live the dream, and turn their hobby into an income. Let’s take a closer look at how the changing landscape of the internet is helping to improve the quality of life for everyday hobbyists.

The collectors

Perhaps the most widespread hobby type is that of the collector. From stamps to rare music, toys to antiques, comics to football cards, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting your hands on that hard-to-find missing piece that completes your collection.

Traditionally, boot sales, garage sales, local markets and the local trading post were often the best avenues for finding those rare collectables.

Not any more. Collectors can find and buy, or trade, items from their hobby with people anywhere in the world.

Real-time communication allows for haggling and even auctions, while video calls allow products to be shown off prior to purchase to ensure they are of sound quality.  

The creators

Humans are creative in nature. On the one hand you have authors, artists, poets, photographers, musicians, movie makers and developers who spill their imaginations out onto the page, keyboard or film.

On the other, you have the reviewers and bloggers who take joy from analysing and critiquing this work. Prior to the internet, very little from these hobbyists would surface beyond friends and family, or their local community.

Even in the early days of the internet, the output was not digital and, if it was, it was way too big to be transferred across the world.

Nowadays, the internet is powerful enough for even the biggest high-definition videos to be uploaded to worldwide portals like YouTube. Sites like DeviantArt have turned household artists into global stars with loyal fans.

Writers can self-publish, photographers can make a living off social sites such as Instagram, and coders can create apps and mods that are downloaded millions of times.

Our fast internet is even enabling teams of hobbyists from all over the country to form and work together on bigger, more rewarding projects.

The cooks and crafters

These kinds of hobbyists can be found walking the aisles of hardware stores on a weekend, or purusing the flora at Flower Power.

Perhaps tinkering away in a Tabletop workshop or selecting ingredients for a delicious feast.

They’re also homebrewers, knitters and whittlers. Building and making items from our surrounding resources is one of humanity’s oldest hobbies, and it starts now much as it always has - getting the equipment and resources in one place.

Be it wood or food, mulch or wool. But now, the path from start to completion is more easily walked.

An endless supply of high-definition video content, easily accessibly forums and active real-time communities are on hand to offer instructional tips and support as you humour your hobby.

And you can share your progress as you go, adding to the sense of reward.

You can also source a wider range of materials online, allowing you to potentially take your craft in newer, more-exciting directions.

The explorers

Australia is a warm, sun-drenched land that has always encouraged an active lifestyle.

Many Australians take to the outdoors for their hobbies – determined to go explore the world. Exploring new locations, hiking deep into the wilderness, canyoning, mountain bike riding and much more.

Even this hobby has evolved alongside our internet infrastructure.

The days of pulling out a UBD street directory and trying to navigate to a location that may or may not be interesting are all but gone.

GPS technology gives us directions and times to anywhere we need to go (sometimes requiring us to download it in advance), while the internet offers tips, video and photographic reviews of locations and real-time weather reports.

If you have connectivity, you can even track your steps through the cloud, tagging your location on social media to make friends jealous.  

The cognoscente

Finally, we have the Australians who like to use their spare time for self-improvement. Those with a desire to build their understanding of the world around us, or invest in entrepreneurs, real estate or in stock.

Before the internet, such activities were time consuming, challenging and often expensive.

In order to access the information you needed, you had books, papers and phones as your options, or you had to physically get to a location where a teacher or investment opportunity existed. Access to fast broadband puts all the information you need, updated in real-time, at your fingertips.

In particular, the ability to stream and watch high-definition video, or to connect with likeminded individuals or teachers in video conferences or webinars, has changed the way self-improvers can indulge their desires.

People from all over the world, sharing their knowledge at the press of a button.

Best of all

The most exciting gift that fast internet connectivity has given hobbyists is the ability to turn a pleasure into an income.

If you create something, or have a deep understanding of a subject, then you can reach people all over the world and offer your hobby as a service or product.

Perhaps you simply sell your woodwork through your own website.

Maybe your art ends up on jumpers on the other side of the Earth. Your poetry on Amazon Kindle or iTunes. Or you may simply have filmed yourself offering tips on your hobby and found an audience on YouTube.

The ability to reach people anywhere at any time, and without being bottlenecked by intermittent connectivity or large files, opens up a whole new future for Australian hobbyists.  

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Last updated on 22 March 2017