Taking My Hacks

Technology and the Hobby

Joe Orlando

For those of you who have been involved in the hobby over the past few decades, the evolution of the business has been interesting to observe. With each passing decade, the primary method used to buy and sell collectibles changed. Local storefronts, mail order and trade shows dominated the 1980s, a decade filled with excitement and growth. Our options, however, were limited in many respects. There seemed to be a baseball card shop on every corner and a trade show every weekend so it didn't seem to matter at the time.

As we entered the 1990s, things turned for the worse fairly quickly as the market softened a bit in the early part of the decade, only to be rejuvenated by two major innovations later on – third-party authentication/grading and the Internet. The baseball card shops became an endangered species but our world opened up with the help of technology. It didn't quite happen overnight but, once the Internet took hold, it forever changed our hobby and our lives. It has been so life changing that it's hard to imagine the world without it, much like cell phones and email.

In fact, the businesses that refused to change with the times have either become extinct altogether or are on the verge of extinction. The world moves quickly and is unforgiving in many ways. Just like in nature, the ones that don't keep up with the herd are methodically picked off and eliminated from sight. It sounds cruel but it's just the way it is, the way life works ... the way business works.

At PSA, we do our best to stay on top of this ever-changing market and are looking for ways to improve the experience of collectors far into the future. In my opinion, the key to building our hobby and cultivating new collectors is information. When consumers become informed, about any type of good or service, they are more willing to spend money because they feel more comfortable about their purchases. That is the goal and our plan is to find ways of providing more information to the public via technology and otherwise.

That said, I don't think all new technology improves the hobby or life. For example, in-person interaction is still a valuable and important part of building relationships, especially when you are trying to introduce someone to this hobby. Since the trade shows have declined rapidly, the opportunities to interact with people have diminished. Emails, texts, posts, blogs and tweets are all great but they are a bit impersonal.

These types of technology are so easy to use that we have become lazy. If we don't have to pick up the phone, we tend not to anymore. I am not so sure that is a good thing. At times, I am as guilty of this as anyone. Things like Facebook (or, as I like to call it, the set registry for "friends") are terrific for business but there are aspects of it that can bring out the flawed side of human nature when it comes to personal use. The constant need for attention, the need to feel important or like a pseudo-celebrity and the need to accumulate "friends" (when 99% of them are nothing of the sort) are all examples of this.

While technology (like Facebook) can be used for good, both personally and professionally, it is important for all is us to remember that some "old school" forms of communication and interaction should not be forgotten. If you have the time, take the time to interact with others. It is a great way for all of us to build this hobby and make it better.

Never get cheated,

Joe Orlando

Joe Orlando
Editor In Chief