The essence of wine blogging: a conversation
It’s been four-plus years since I launched this little corner of cyberspace, and my attitude towards it–towards blogging–has undergone some changes. I point this out not merely because it says something about me, which would be uninteresting, but because it says something, I think, about wine blogging in general: the transformation it’s undergone, and where it might be going.
One thing we all can agree on, I believe, is that the blogosphere has settled down. It was the Wild West in 2008-2009, filled with gunslingers looking for a fight. An exciting place: Dodge City, dangerous, adrenalized, edgy, where anything could happen. Wine blogging was new; everywhere you went (in cyberspace) you had the sense of being in on something revolutionary. Nobody knew where the train was going, but everyone (writers and readers alike) wanted to be on it, for if you missed the train–well, then you wouldn’t go wherever it was going, wherever that was. And nobody wanted to miss the train.
Today, a kind of ordinariness has settled over the wine blogosphere. It’s not revolutionary anymore; it’s become a routine part of our lives, like the morning paper sitting peacefully at my doorstep (hopefully, not in a puddle). I blog everyday the way I brush my teeth: it’s part of what I do. You read everyday because it’s what you do. We do it together, you and I: part of the same community (wine), we reach across the desolations of distance and time to find each other and share.
This sharing is why I keep on blogging. It’s the communication I have with you, my readers, that drives me to get 600 words up by 7:30 a.m., California time, five days a week. I grant you that the communication isn’t always pleasant, coming from your end. Some of the comments here are pretty insulting to me, but I like them anyway, because hearing from people is better than not hearing, no matter what they say. Sometimes, when the comments are personal attacks, I bristle for a minute; but then I think that the purpose of journalism–and my blog is journalism, albeit of a different kind–is to stimulate thinking, even to be controversial.
I’ve written before that I don’t set out to be controversial, but I suppose I do have something in me that likes a good row. It’s the New Yorker I am, I guess. I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to express them. It’s only fair, then, that my readers should have the opportunity to express their strong opinions, in the Comments section. I like that. I like a dinner table where people are arguing vociferously. I don’t mean fighting: I mean voicing their opinions about things, and disagreeing with others. It all ends happily, of course: no thrown plates, no wine dumped over anyone’s head, no stabbings with the fork.
I can’t see you out there as I sit here, at my desk in Oakland, in the peace of a summer morning. There are some birds chirping, and I can hear the far off rumble of rush hour traffic on the freeway, a mile away. Otherwise, all is silent, except for the click-clack of my fingers pecking at the keyboard. But I can feel you, in San Francisco, in St. Helena, in Manhattan, in London, in Mumbai, in Beijing, wherever you are. You are a vibration that circles the world. Most people will not feel you at a distance because they’re not seeking you, but I am, and do, everyday. It’s an invisible thread that unites us, whether you’re angry at me for something I said, or agreeing with me, or just taking it in for a moment.
I’ll keep on writing as long as you keep on reading: that’s my bond. And that is what wine blogging has become: it’s not an earth-shattering new development that will change anybody’s life forever. It’s not the end of print. It’s not the revenue-generating engine people hoped it would be, four years ago. What wine blogging is, is exactly what this space has become: a digital conversation in a family that just happens not to be related by blood. In that sense, wine blogging is less than anyone thought, four years ago; but on the other hand, it’s precisely what we all expected the Internet to be, fifteen years ago: the final expression (for now) of McLuhan’s global village, “contracted…by electronic technology [at] electric speed,” as Wikipedia puts it.
From that perspective, then, wine blogging–this blog, anyway–has little or nothing to do with that other primal topic of conversation, “Can wineries increase revenue through social media?” Maybe yes, maybe no. That’s a whole different thing. Through all the commotion and hubbub, this blog, like the mighty Mississippi, just goes rolling along.