For reasons that are far too boring to go into here, I am a huge baseball fan despite being born in the UK, and follow the Boston Red Sox, the natural US partner to my similarly tragically underperforming football team, Spurs. So inevitably, this article in MIT’s Technology Review caught my eye.
It seems that Curt Schilling, the Sox’s new starting pitcher, is a great fan of chatrooms and forums, regularly contributing to discussions on boards like Sons of Sam Horn. The RedSox owners have also been posting news and opinion on the boards, leaving ESPN and other news outlets in the dark. This enlightened approach to connecting with their audiences has pissed off the broadcasters, as Schilling found out:
Schilling was involved in a chat session when he heard that the hosts of The Big O sports talk show on WEEI were bad mouthing him for privileging the internet over broadcast media. He picked up the phone and called in to fire back. Beginning by saying that he felt that he could get his message out to his supporters most effectively through two channels — the internet and radio — he proceeded to discuss the gatekeeping function of traditional media and the ways they selectively filtered out what he was trying to say. He talked about the power of digital media to cut across hierarchies and to include the public more fully in the process. He talked about the challenges of identity theft online and the steps hes taken to make sure his fans know its really him when he posts things. And he told the reporters that it was their job to track down the news, not his job to hand it to them. Maybe this is a medium youre going to have to start following if you want to get the story, he said.
Its fantastic that a sport star – not normally respected for their intelligence – should be clued-in to the radical nature of digital media, let along passionate enough to defend it in public and *also* raise some cogent points about idendity theft in the bargain. All we need is a Howard Dean style campaign, and we can make him MVP before the new season even kicks off. Go Schilling! Go Sox! Go Interweb!