By Jeff Fournier
“We can’t keep doing things the same way because of tradition … we must change our culture, attitudes and values or our hobby will die.”
This according to ANA past president Walter Ostromecki. He was the keynote speaker at the ONA’s April 9 convention banquet and although he delivered what might appear to be a bleak message, it is actually a message of hope. He believes coin clubs have to learn to communicate in a new way and embrace technology to effect change.
“We have to start thinking differently and doing things in new ways. We shouldn’t misuse technology, but we can embrace it and take advantage of its strengths,” said Ostromecki.
One of those strengths is in the diversity of ways that the internet, for example, allows collectors to communicate and to educate.
He says collectors have a whole world of knowledge at their fingertips, but many coin clubs are not using the internet’s greatest strength – the ability to engage people. Once they are engaged, that is, if they can create interesting material and deliver it in a new way, then collectors can educate a whole new generation of collectors and draw them into the hobby.
Ostromecki is not suggesting collectors sit in front of their computers and give up all social interaction. That seems to be the trend in everyday life, but why not use technology to educate the public, draw them in and encourage people to engage in one-on-one, face-to-face interactions.
“We must create websites that make us want to ‘click’ on our devices. We have to look at new avenues, new ways to deliver our messages. We are now in a visual world and we have a very visual hobby. Take advantage of that and the possibilities with the vast technology available to us and let’s make our communications interesting.”
Ostromecki also believes in the power of a story and feels the hobby must be made part of a broader story, bringing in new collectors in the process.
The ANA, according to Ostromecki, has numerous resources available to clubs, including Canadian clubs.
“We must gear up for the inevitable change…the change that is already happening,” Ostromecki added. “It’s time for a summit between our two countries. Time to chart a course. EBay has said that within 10 years, there will be no more coin shows or live auctions. We can’t stop eBay, but we can share our knowledge online. We must share technology for the good and accept some of what’s bad,” added Ostromecki.
The past president explained how the ANA has recently digitized 126 years of the ANA Numismatist.
“The hobby as a whole has a story to tell,” Ostromecki said, but it’s up to us to use technology and people to get the public excited again.”