I'll toss my hat out on this one..
I don't watch TV either. As someone who deals with technology, especially technology for the varied forms of media, I am detached from popular culture these days and have been for the past 6-7 years. Granted, I do watch "TV", but in the sense that I'll either download, watch online or rent a season of a show to watch it at my own pace. I was quite pleased with myself this year as I was able to stream the Super Bowl ("illegally") LIVE thanks to the internet. I work in the IT field, this is why I am apt to do computer related modeling projects. Many of the reference documents available here on the site have come from my own research as I am keen on saving hard copies of these things for myself. I've been lurking on forums and email groups for years and I've witnessed the growth of our hobby thanks to the internet, yet I've also seen many many cases of people mishandling railroading on the internet. There was a thread over on the NGDF about RGS train sheets that illustrates the bridge between the old fashioned and modern methods. Jerry Day I have no doubt has put a lot of work into the Snowplow operations on the D&RG(W), his frustration over publishing the documents he's been processing for his future book. As someone who is working on an NCNG book, I share his apprehension, but I can also see the benefit in having the information out there. Personally I have been pouring major time into reading the Grass Valley Union during 1875, allowing me to understand the construction of the NCNG and hopefully tidbits about the equipment, paint colors and answers to other questions. If someone were to, lets say, start transcribing articles and posting them on their own, I would be a little put off by this. On the other hand, I can see how having the information will be beneficial. I believe it takes compromise these days to handle both methods of modeling. Sure you could post the articles online, people would read them, but most people would lose interest after a couple months worth of articles. I feel there will always be a need for the devoted to take the time, sort it out and publish it, be it in physical book form or a page on the internet.
I commented on one of the email groups a few years ago that our model railroad culture is changing. Younger folk like myself and Michael aren't as interested by 40s-50s Colorado stuff, it is interesting sure, but we do not have the attachment to seeing or hearing about it when it was still operating, when we were younger. Some folks out there despise Colorado narrow gauge because of its dominance over the market for the past 50 or so years. Let's face it, Colorado has been exposed for so long that it started to become synonymous with "Narrow Gauge" in general. Books on the subject continue to dominate the market and our roads which are local to us, and potentially highly interesting are often neglected. Worse yet, most information that circles the internet is rehashed from OLD books because that is what the entry level NG fan will likely get their hands on first. This website was started with the express purpose of combating some of this. Think of the information that floats around regarding topics like Russia Iron, Locomotive paint and so forth. While there have been great strides in flushing this information out there are still die-hards that firmly believe the old information. Recently, I saw a wonderful model of a Mason Bogie which had its ornamental dome rings painted brass... This is a mistake pulled from the 40s and 50s ideas of what these locomotives looked like when the earliest model railroaders and rail historians believed this to be true because these parts were always very shiny in photographs. Nevermind that locomotives in builders photos are heavily varnished, and of course: Varnish + Curved Surfaces + Sunlight = Shiny. Another of my favorites that STILL floats around is the use of red on strange places on locomotives. We often see "1880s" D&RG locomotives with red paint on the domes, stack or cab which is just what someone guessed years and years ago, yet is still believed to be the gospel to some. Even out west there has been a long standing myth that SPC locomotives were red... as it turns out they were not only Green, but the SPC was painting locomotives to match with their newest locomotives, in effect copying the Baldwin paint schemes of the time.
As a modeler I wasn't always a strict rivet counter like I am now. In my younger days I went through many phases but was fortunate enough to get my hands on Model Railroader magazines from the 70s, back when they were loaded with plans or scratchbuilding ideas. As a kid I dabbled with these ideas and was never afraid to cut into a model or attempt a kitbash. I never succeeded in these of course, but I realized what could be done with some tweaking. Is it any wonder I figured out that the Bachmann On30 flat could be converted into an NCNG-esq car?
When I turned 22 I started getting into super detailing, at the time I was modeling a lot of standard gauge stuff because of my involvement with a local club. I then started detailing models for others and pushing the limits of what I could do detail wise in HO scale. I've actually built countless models for friends, a good chunk of which have since wound up on ebay and in the hands of people I've never met. I welcomed the chance to build so many models and these days while I don't have many models that are really for my collection, but I've got the skills to do just about anything I set my mind to.
It will be interesting to see how our hobby continues to evolve in the future. I suspect that as time allows and the RTR craze begins to die out (China wont be cheap forever guys..), we'll move more to cottage industry kits which are popular in the UK. I also feel that in the coming decade desktop laser cutters and CNC machines will become more common place for all of us, even HP has put a desktop 3D printer on the market these days. People often speculate that our hobby is dying, I don't believe it is. Our hobby is thriving, the catch is, most of the new generation are interested in modern railfanning than the older stuff, and even the Colorado NG fans will dwindle in the future. This isn't the end of our hobby, as I mentioned I believe that we're just in the middle of a cultural shift and our hobby will continue to become diversify. RTR HOn3 and On30 may appeal to the armchair modelers, however we're starting to see that it is bringing out the talented modeling efforts in some. The next 80 years of our hobby will certainly see some drastic changes, but many of them may very well ultimately lead to a stronger hobby base consisting of folks not afraid to get their hands dirty.
That is what I'd like to believe anyway.