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Cisco Plans to Ruin Baseball

"Take me out of the ball game,
Take me out of the crowd.
Buy me some gadgets and Cisco Jack,
I don't care if I never go there,
Let me root, root, root for the home teleteam,
If they don't win it's an electronic shame.
For it's one, two, three devices you're out but not there
At the new ball game!"

We occasionally swim against techno tide. Here's a good cause for rebellion: Cisco is planning to ruin baseball. Read the article about their "top-secret Cisco technology team" including their "Demo Dude" who are going to rig a new Oakland A's baseball stadium called "Cisco Field" (isn't that enough?) to showcase Cisco products, like telepresence, in the guise of improving the fan experience in the stadium. ...Makes us want to bean some Cisco execs.

Attending a baseball game as a fan in the stadium is about getting off the grid and unplugging your increasingly electronic self. It's about watching the game at the field and watching people in the stands. Or, in our case, it's about watching grass grow in the outfield at Fenway Park and drinking beer, talking with friends. The very experience of being at a baseball game, and the pleasure that comes from it, is about getting away from everything else and being disconnected from work, home, and gadgets. It's a reprieve from everyday routine. It's about getting great seats or enjoying the big view from afar. It's about the pure physical characteristics of the game, the athleticism, the fans, the food, and the place - a wholly unmediated experience of a fan community in the shared moment around a field.

What does Cisco want to do? For the Oakland A's, they want to put digital displays on the backs of seats. They want to put video conference monitors in stadium restaurants and bars. They want to provide high-speed internet and high-tech gadgets to the fans. Does anyone think this is an improvement of the fan experience? Who isn't already annoyed at jackass cellphone talkers at baseball games? Do we want more gadget-heads looking at personal devices at games? Why go to the game if you can watch it on a telepresence system from afar? Cisco, with its ultimate interest in product demonstrations and branding to the corporate enterprise, wants to turn baseball into a showroom floor and America's game will be further homogenized in the process. This quote from the article says it all: "When (Cisco CEO) Chambers and (Cisco Treasurer) Holland first talked about the deal, the treasurer slowly turned the conversation into his dream of the ballpark as a technology showcase a place where consumers could use Cisco technology."

In other words, the new Oakland A's stadium, Cisco Field, will be one giant product placement showcase of Cisco. Take us out of that stadium.


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