What you are reading now was originally written for the print publication, Automotive Design & Production magazine. And you might be thinking to yourself, “Duh?”, as you are holding a copy of the magazine as you’re reading this. But I make the point because a certain percentage of you are actually reading this on line at www.autofieldguide.com. For those of you who haven’t visited the site, there is more than the magazine archived there. Of course, there is a good archive, which can certainly be useful to you if you’re looking for information about a particular something that you recall reading about in the magazine. But there is additional material on the site that you’ll undoubtedly find to be of interest.
One of the beauties of the on-line medium is that there is the potential for readers to actively become participants in discussing the sorts of things that are written about in the physical magazine. That is, if you go to the home page of www.autofieldguide.com and then click on one of those tabs that are across the top of the page (“On Cars,” “Equipment & Apps,” “Materials,” “Supply Side,” “Digital Domain”), you’ll discover that each of them has a “Forum” option. Going there gives you the opportunity to ask a question or make a statement. Ideally, there will be a sufficient number of participants in these forums such that there will be something of a conversation going. Active. Lively. Real. Your colleagues talking about things of interest to them. Sure, those of us who work on the magazine and on the website will be checking in on the forums. Perhaps providing our two cents (more or less) on the subject at hand.
But the point—and the beauty—of this is not that we get to pontificate or otherwise hold forth, but that you get to communicate with a group of like-minded people who are part of the auto industry. The goal here is to create a place where there is lively-but-reasoned conversation. This is not about flaming people or companies. Sure, we’re looking for people to talk about what’s happening in the industry. And some of what is going on should be criticized. We’ve talked to more than one supplier of late who feels as though the OEMs are being less-than collaborative (euphemistically speaking), public pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding. You can share (anonymously) your observations on what’s going on, say, in “Supply Side.” A caveat: If you think that you can just mercilessly crack an exec for being a jackass, then please consider going somewhere else with your observations. We’re hoping to be civil and lively, helpful and constructive.
That is only one part of it. Perhaps the smallest part. Say you have an issue with a piece of equipment. Or are looking for a material. Or want to know whether there is a simulation package available to perform virtual analysis. What we would like to see happen is that you’d post your query in the appropriate forum and that you’d get responses from not only your fellow Autofieldguide readers, but even from the companies that might have the product that you’re interested in. This would be rapid—perhaps almost real-time—answers to the sorts of things that you’re particularly interested in.
We want to have all of you get engaged in creating a community of like-minded people who can help advance this industry in positive ways. Go check out—and into—a forum.