Blogging is growing up
If I’m reading the tea leaves right, and I think I am, the wine blogosphere has entered a new phase. It’s realizing how self-referential it’s been, is growing uneasy about such navel-gazing, and is frankly understanding it can’t indulge in masturbatory behavior forever.
The wine blogosphere, in other words, is wondering, Now what?
Much of the content of wine blogs has been about blogging itself: its meaning, future, ethics, how it fits into social media as a whole, how to monetize it, how old people don’t understand blogging, how print journalists are jealous of blogging’s power, how revolutionary and democratic blogging is making everything, how thrilling it is to go to a conference and be treated with respect by winemakers, how the MSM is looking over its shoulder, etc. etc. etc. There were elements of truth in all of this and, for a while, these issues deserved to be aired and debated.
But what about wine? That was then; this is now. The switch, as I perceive it, is that bloggers themselves are starting to realize they can’t just blog about blogging anymore. The topic — dare I say it — is getting tired.
(And before anyone points out the irony, let me admit that, yes, today’s blog is about blogging!)
Blogging about blogging is like print wine writers writing about wine writing instead of wine. Imagine if Hugh Johnson had written, not “The Story of Wine,” but “The Story of Wine Writing.” Not as many people would have bought it.
This is a natural and welcome phase for bloggers. They no longer have to prove their worth as a new medium. Instead, they need to sustain their readership, capture new readers, break new ground and show that they have something to say.
One thing that should help lift wine blogging to higher ground is the indisputable fact that more wineries are reaching out to bloggers, including sending them samples. This will give the bloggers more interesting things to write about, including more frequent and in-depth wine reviews. There’s nothing like real tasting and reporting, which is hard work, to take your mind off yourself and give you a wider perspective.
Speaking of work, one aspect of this that hasn’t been written about much is that, when it’s done diligently, blogging is work. I think bloggers know you can’t just throw something up there once or twice a week in a slapdash manner. If a blog deserves to be read, it seems to me it should be well-researched, substantive and informative.
Another interesting and welcome aspect of this new phase is that you can actually suggest social media may not be the be-all and end-all without the bloggers jumping on you like a nest of angry hornets. Jamie Goode (a major blogger himself) recently did, in his post, called “Social media – let’s not over-sell it.” If I’d said that a year ago, I would have had death threats and my name would have been mud all over Twitter. (Well, it probably will be, anyway.)
Tom: Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
Joe: I think as a whole bloggers need to move on from this topic, actually. If this topic was a play, it would be written by Pinter and would involve the lead characters doing a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Old Testament style. And furrowed brows – a lot of furrowed brows…
I infer that Joe himself thinks it’s time to move beyond blogging about blogging and get on with it. In fairness, most of the blogs I read seem to be on surer footing than they were a year or so ago. Of course, navel-gazing will probably remain part of wine blogging culture for some time to come, because blogging is such a fascinating development. Even the mainstream print media likes, on occasion, to put itself on the couch and analyze itself.
People talk about Blogging 2.0 in all manner of ways. I think the real meaning of Blogging 2.0 is that bloggers are rolling up their sleeves and getting down to the hard work of coming up with good content.