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A Major League Baseball Player and the Evolution of the Internet, Media, and the Twitter-verse

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February 18, 2013 – When pitcher C.J. Nitkowski first started blogging in 1997, even he could never have predicted how fast the medium would grow. By his own accord, Nitkowski “fell into being the first active player on the web.” In 1997, the Houston Astros website, astros.com, asked Nitkowski to write a semi-annual newsletter chronicling his experiences as a minor leaguer pitching for their club in New Orleans. For Nitkowski, the initial response was greater than he anticipated. “[It] became more popular than I had ever thought, and what I realized was that baseball fans really enjoyed the personal interaction with an active player.”

Following the success of the newsletter, Nitkowski took things into his own hands and established Cjbaseball.com. “My thought was instead of having to wait for my newsletter, how about a place on the internet that they can access at their leisure.” Over the next decade, Cjbaseball.com would chronicle Nitkowski’s experiences pitching in the Major Leagues from 1995-2005, and in foreign countries such as Japan and Korea. “It was always about showing baseball fans the game from my view, the inside. It never was about me or self-promotion.”

It was while pitching in Korea in 2009 that Nitkowski first discovered Twitter. “In Asia, foreign players have a lot of alone time. I discovered Twitter then.” Though incapable of measuring how much of an impact the medium would have, Nitkowkski says that he “never imagined this but I saw the potential for growth.”

In the following years, Nitkowski has established himself as one of the more candid athletes on Twitter, analyzing the game as he sees it, and reporting on the ins and outs of a player with candor and honesty. Though many athletes, both retired and active use Twitter as a medium, Nitkowski believes that it isn’t necessarily for all. “Certainly it’s not for everyone. There are bad people out there who say bad things, mostly just to get a rise out of a player. I could see where a small sector of fans could ruin Twitter for a player.” Twitter, due to its specific level of interaction, seemingly allows the unidentified heckler in the crowd, to take a crack at the athlete he dislikes.

This however has not entirely been Nitkowski’s experience, noting that the majority of his interactions involve “respectful fans.” This seemingly comes with the territory of being a public figure on Twitter, Nitkowski notes that he “can only imagine what some of the biggest name in the game see in their mentions.”

As more and more athletes flock to Twitter, Nitkowski understands the importance of keeping a level head and not going too off the cuff. In 2011, the Florida Marlins spoke out against outfielder Logan Morrison’s candid and often vulgar interactions with his followers. Though Nitkowski has never endured the same backlash as Morrison, he understands that learning the right voice on and the internet and in social media is process. “I made my own mistakes early in my career by spurting off on my web page when I was angry.”

It is easy for a player to let their emotions get the best of them. But Nitkowski thinks that the solution is simple. “You have to be smart and use good judgment. Teams are smart to monitor their players, and they’d be wise to train their players how to use social media properly.”

Going forward, Nitkowski values the relationship that is capable of being formed with fans via Twitter. “You can get the personal interaction with your favorite athlete or celebrity that would otherwise be unattainable.” As he continues to work his way back into the big leagues, Nitkowski is aware that a presence on Twitter may be essential for his next career. “I’d like to have a career in media when my playing days are over. I think a presence on Twitter is a must for aspiring and current media members.”

You can follow C.J. online at @cjnitkowski, or check out his writings on http://cjbaseball.com.

Education

Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts

The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.

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Screenshot of the Brookings event Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.

The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.

“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.

Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.

“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.

Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.

Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”

Not a replacement for real social experiences

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.

“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”

Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption

‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.

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Photo of Kelley Dunne, CEO of AmeriCrew, leading panel on workforce issues at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.

Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.

At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.

The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.

“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.

She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.

In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.

In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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Broadband's Impact

Broadband Speeds Have Significant Impact on Economy, Research Director Says

From 2010 to 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove .04 percent increase in GDP, the study found.

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Photo of Alan Davidson of the NTIA, Caroline Kitchens of Shopify, Raul Katz of Columbia University (left to right)

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Broadband and higher speeds have made significant contributions to economic growth over the last decade, according to a study discussed at a Network On conference Tuesday.

Raul Katz, director of business strategy research at Columbia University, conducted his research to determine where the United States economy would be if broadband had not evolved since 2010. He developed four models to explain the economic contribution of broadband, and all found support to suggest that broadband development has contributed to substantial economic growth.

The long-run economic growth model showed that between 2010 and 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove a .04 percent increase in gross domestic product – the measure of the value of goods and services produced in the nation. States with higher speed broadband had an economic impact of an additional 11.5 percent.

“States with higher speeds of broadband have a higher economic effect,” said Katz. “Not only is there penetration as a driver, but there’s also… return to speed. At faster speeds, the economy tends to be more efficient.”

The study found that if broadband adoption and speed had remained unchanged since 2010, the 2020 GDP would have been 6.27 percent lower, said Katz.

Caroline Kitchens, a representative for ecommerce platform Shopify, said Tuesday that there’s been great growth in the ecommerce business, which relies entirely on a broadband connection. “Worldwide, Shopify merchants create 3.5 million jobs and have an economic impact of more than $307 billion. It goes without saying that none of this is possible without broadband access.”

“We have really seen firsthand how broadband access promotes entrepreneurship,” said Kitchens, indicating that this has promoted a growing economy in over 100 countries.

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