In 2014, being a keyboard expert was hard to come by. I was using a 4 year old keyboard that I bought from Mattias which uses white Alp keys similar to what was found on older Mac keyboards. I desperately wanted something with the then-legendary Cherry Blue switch, but it was hard to find anything outside of a small selection of hard-to-find Corsair keyboards and imports from Taiwan-based Ducky.
Eight years later, people can actually understand everything I wrote above. Well, maybe not everyone, but the size of the keyboard community has multiplied by many factors in the past eight years and there are more people who know the difference between a Cherry Blue key and an Alp white key than ever before.
Over the next three weeks, I will be hosting a very interesting mini-series of Vergcast Exploring the way content creators build online hardware fandoms and drive the development of categories that are often underserved by the industry’s top tool makers. We’re going to talk to the guys who make trackballs on 3D printers, and the guy who’s been building accessible Xbox consoles for 20 years, but first we gotta talk about consoles – because few gadgets have been a hit from online creators who’ve had consoles. keys.
This week I speak with Julie Muncie and Jacob Alexander to better understand the keyboard and how the fan base has been built and developed. Jacob is considered one of the original creators of what we now know as keyboard fandom. In the early 2010s, he put together a massive collection of keyboards and started creating a language to talk about these things we use now. He and his group Input Club were among the first to start building new consoles and selling them online through places like Kickstarter and Drop (then known as Massdrop). Starting with small forums scattered across the internet, he has helped build this fan base that now has over a million users on the internet. / Mechanical keyboard subreddit.
Julie has written for Wired, io9, and Tom’s Hardware magazines, and when she’s not writing, she runs Keyboard Concierge, a service where she designs custom keyboards for people overwhelmed by this vast and intimidating space. Her business is backed in part by keyboard lovers who want to create the keyboards they now see on YouTube. She can tell what you need to do in keyboard switching just by listening – a skill she had to develop after repeated requests from customers to create keyboards that look like the ones they saw in online videos.
I might make it help figure out what’s going on with the keyboard during this episode.
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