What is the point of a digital autograph?


I’ve talked about my issues with autographs in the past. I liked getting them well enough when I was a kid but I don’t really see the point of them anymore. An autograph, on the most basic level, is a thing which tells the world “I met a famous person and this is the documentary proof.” In my view, however, I don’t need to prove to anyone that I was in the famous person’s presence. I know I was. I remember it. What do I care if someone disbelieves me?

When I first shared that opinion with you all I was pretty much shouted down, with you telling me that an autograph is not proof that you met someone, it’s a reminder to yourself.  The point is that you’ll forget an encounter for a long time and then, years later, come across the signed photo or ball or baseball card and that little totem will jog a memory for you. This was, by far, the majority view, I’ll add. I still feel the way I feel about autographs and won’t ever ask for one, but I realize I am in a very small minority in feeling that way. You all win on that score, I’ll grant it.

But I can’t go father than that. Someone has to explain this press release from Topps to me:

The TOPPS Company and their fast-growing digital platform, TOPPS MLB BUNT today announced that New York Mets Hall of Famer Mike Piazza will make history this Saturday, when he conducts a real time customized digital autograph signing this weekend as part of The Baseball Card Show in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  It is the first time TOPPS will conduct a virtual signing in real time for a global audience, after a successful test of the platform during the All-Star Game in San Diego . . .

. . . Piazza will use an iPad and digital stylus to sign card images with personalizations and inscriptions to a select number of fans, who are able to acquire “live signature tickets” via the Topps MLB BUNT application this week. He will also sign other cards, all of which will be published for consumers from anywhere in the world.

I’m already sort of confused by the idea of digital card collecting. The tactile part of it — the cardboard and the smell of the gum — was almost everything for me back when I collected. But I realize that digital collecting is a thing now. I don’t get the virtual autographs at all. What does one of these things accomplish? Proof that you live-chatted with Piazza? That he read your email? Proof that you interacted with a famous person via some other digital means? If that’s the idea, you can print out a tweet or something, right?

I realize this is coming off as an old man yelling at a cloud or not really getting new technology. But when technology is merely serving as a new means of doing an old thing, as opposed to doing a legitimately new thing, one must ask if the old thing is still being properly served. I’m struggling to see any aspect of autograph-seeking and autograph-obtaining that is being accomplished with this virtual product. I’m not sure how it’s any different than downloading a photo. Which, hey, I download photos all the time. It’s useful! But it sure ain’t special, no matter what this press release would have you believe.

Any help here?