Since 2008, the hobby media has gone through MANY significant changes, especially with the advent of social media. First there was the 2008-2009 blog boom, then facebook, then twitter, all of which contributed to collectors being the most informed “generation” in sports card history. Message boards also have contributed their share of connection tools as well, mainly that there is a growing number of places where collectors can converse without leaving their house. Thanks to sites like eBay, Blowout Cards, and DA Cardworld, the internet has basically rendered the shop and show obsolete, and I am one who welcomes the digression from the norm of the last 25 years. Collectors are now tied together more readily and easily than ever before, and I love it.
Yesterday, we entered a new chapter in this ever changing saga, as Upper Deck became the first manufacturer to offer awards for excellence in these mediums. Unlike other hobby media who loathes the loss of their reporting territory and prominence, Upper Deck has chosen to embrace it. Although the idea is most definitely a publicity tool to drive people to their site, the concept reflects how social media has revolutionized the hobby’s reporting crew. Three years ago, if a anyone offered awards like this, there would only be a handful of people around to accept them, now there are thousands. Collectors are starting blogs like it’s a job, mainly because of the wonderful community that has been established by the hundreds already in existence. Twitter is catching on as well, with manufacturers starting their own pages to complement the many blogs and message boards that are already established. Through these Blogs, Twitter and Facebook, collectors no longer have to search for the info they need through pages of outdated and disconnected magazines or through posts on countless forums. Instead they can go to the Blogs or Facebook pages and see a ton of information as it becomes available.
With the recent advent of awards for best of the best, I can forsee a lot more people getting started in speaking their mind through places like Twitter and Blogs. With magazine readership dropping, people who do it for fun have become the best resource for information and commentary, as there is no ad revenue or editors to worry about. Most of the time, that leads to free roam of the hobby landscape, something that has never been offered before, ever. It also gives people the opportunity to police the douchebags, as previous hobby news sources still try to shy away from exposing the “dark side” of collecting.
For a lot of the people who casually stumble across the hobby, the mantra usually is a variance of “its just card board,” but for a lot of us, its more than that. Its something we use to better writing skills, build resumes, and most of all have fun doing. There are no limits and no censorship, and because of that fact, online collectors are quickly starting to outnumber old and stubborn curmudgeons.
I doubt the Upper Deck awards will be the last of its kind, because its obvious that its online success will produce copycats. Im fine with that as long as the contests facilitate more people take up the banner and start their own way of reporting on the hobby they love. Just because there are hundreds of blogs and message boards out there already, doesn’t mean there isnt room for you to find your niche as a new member of the online community. As I have said a hundred times before, I will not hesitate to add any new people to the sidebar and give you a link, or answer any questions you have in getting started.
Remember, if you have something to say, there will always be people willing to listen. Then, if you are fortunate enough to have great content and good readership, you now have the ability to be recognized industry wide.