LA Times: Wired U2 Fans Link on Tour
From The Los Angeles Times:
THE SCENE / LAS VEGASTHE CUTTING EDGE / CYBERCULTURE
Wired U2 Fans Link on Tour
PAOLO PONTONIERE and KATHLEEN CRAUGHWELL, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
As U2 fans from around the world descended on this town Saturday forthe kickoff of the Irish band’s massive PopMart tour, it became clear that the Internet is taking on yet another role these days—that of party organizer.
For months, wired U2 fans from all over the U.S.—and from Canada andGermany and Italy and even Bulgaria—turned to the Net to exchange gossip, share poetry, scrounge tickets, and make appointments to meet one anotheron the big day.
On Saturday, many wore bright, yellow laminated tags around their necksthat read "U2 WIRE," looking more like members of the tour crew than members of the U2 fan diaspora. "We call ourselves ’wirelings,’ " explainedTim McIntyre, 23, a recent UC Berkeley graduate. The wirelings met under a World Wide Wire banner in the stadium; some had even posted theirseat numbers on the Net so that others might find them.
Jason Alves, a fan from Toronto, had despaired of finding a ticket when helogged onto the Net: "I knew there were U2 fans posting messages on a series of billboards but I didn’t expect to find such an abundance," he recalled."I posted this message lamenting the difficulty and the expense of finding aticket for the kickoff in Canada. This guy answers that he can find me a ticketand cheap. From there to getting the actual ticket in my hands didn’t take morethan a couple of days."
Helena from Bulgaria had an even more daunting challenge, and said she neverwould have made it to the show without the support of her online friends:"To come to America to share the message of peace with my online friendsand a band that is right and true is marvelous," she said.
The use of the Internet by music fans is hardly a new phenomenon: GratefulDead played a major role in the development of The Well, the pioneering onlinecommunity, and music sites have long been among the most popular on theWorld Wide Web.
But U2’s fans have been among the most ambitious in developing an extensive, unofficial presence on the Web with sites such as the one built by Paul Anderson at http://www.illume.com/u2/credits/welcome.html or Jonathan Early’sat http://www.poptour97.com/popfun5.htm
Henry Wagner’s site at http://www.panix.com/henryw/zootv/ features text,sound, reviews, photos and the most accurate historical archive of U2 live concerts. The World Wide Wire site is at http://inslab.uky.edu/mailing.list/edu
The global nature of the online presence—and of the crowd in Las Vegas—wasalso remarkable.
"We are very excited," said Elena Piccioni of Florence, president of the Italian U2Fan Club. "Yesterday we took a tour of the stadium; it was an emotional experience.I don’t think that without online communication this could have happened."