“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out
Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right
all right, all right”
…. The Beatles
On the immediate horizon, this week-end in fact, is the second annual three day Wine Bloggers’ Conference at the Flamingo Resort Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA, organized by the Open Wine Consortium, with the help of numerous citizen wine bloggers. Both Napa and Sonoma wineries and vintners’ associations are involved in the support and participation of this year’s conference. So, it seems as though at least in our backyard the Northern California contingent of the wine business has discovered that wine bloggers may matter. Given the general marketing conservatism that seems endemic in these circles, this is somewhat surprising, if not revolutionary, even in this philosophically and politically progressive geography. However, what’s surprising, well not surprising perhaps but inducing a significant feeling of disappointment, is the raising tide of ad hominem attacks on the loosely confederated and decentralized wine blogger community from admired members of the traditional wine print media. As Scott Rosenberg writes in ‘say everything‘, a concise history of the blogging phenomena, “saying that ninety percent of blogs are crap‘ is way too close to implying that “ninety percent of people are crap.’ It seems a tad disingenuous to address the tired and the vapid, and then to paint the whole on the failings of the few. S.I Hayakawa must be turning over in his grave.
Revolution or Evolution
The tipping point seems to be tied to technology. Anyone around for the infamous Rodney King citizen video, shot on a camcorder and seen almost immediately around the world and resulting in the tragic 1992 Los Angeles Riots, knew that the times had changed forever. All the major news networks immediately began requesting, and still request, citizen videos, now likely shot on video enabled smart phones. Mr. Rosenberg tracks the origins of blogging back to Swarthmore dropout Justin Hall, who in the early 90’s began documenting the minutiae of his life, with links to points of interest found surfing online. Justin’s sharing his diary with his growing cult following lit the pilot light with a receptive online community. But the blogging avalanche seems to be tied squarely to the dot.bomb post millenium period, so familiar to many of us who lived in the various tech corridors around the country. Evan Williams, yes the Twitter guy, was a co-founder of Pyra Labs home to a program called ‘Blogger,’ who with some last ditch VC dollars, moved the company’s servers into his apartment keeping the service alive for the then 100,000+ registered users. Within a year’s time more than 700,000 citizen bloggers had a voice, their voice. This created significant buzz and attracted outside interest, Mr. Williams sold his company to Google in 2003 and went on to co-found Twitter in 2006.
The confluence of technology – the internet, word processing and graphic apps, moving to faster and faster broadband and increasingly cost effective wi-fi and wireless solutions and the rapid development of computer technology have all contributed to this democratization of information dissemination. And, please save the lectures on the sanctity of traditional journalism in this age of what Syracuse journalism professor George Saunders refers to as ‘The Braindead Megaphone’ That shark has long been jumped. So, please get off your high horses, bury that hubris under your tomatoes, and join the movement. Oh it might not be a revolution, more an evolutionary change, but it is a citizen movement and, well, you’re no longer in charge.
Some Last Words
Oh, I know – a short post. Well there’s more to say and I’ll be blogging live daily from WBC 09. So, please stay tuned. I want to extend my kudos to Hardy Wallace on landing the Really Goode Job, to Rick Bakas, who was an early contributor to this blog, and hired to be the Director of Social Media Marketing at St Supery, and to Ashley Bellview, who was hired by someone for whom I have the greatest respect, Paul Mabray of VinTank. Good luck and best wishes to all. And wineries, there are still a number of very talented unattached Really Goode Job applicants. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring talent into your wine company.
Also, kudos to Josh Hermsmeyer, aka Pinotblogger, founder of the Capozzi Winery, citizen wine blogger and the developer of the vineyard to cellar iPhone app Juice. Josh has now developed a second application, this time it’s hosted and called Help a Winery Out, similar to the established Help A Reporter Out, but for wine. So, if you’re a citizen wine blogger/reviewer check out helpawinery.com, take a look and sign up. The service is free, always will be, and is meant to bring citizen wine reviewers seeking wines to review together with wineries looking to target them. At press time I was unable to secure confirmation from the partner working on the winery interface, but be assured it’s a respected and valued member of the wine community. This program will help to professionalize the interface between citizen wine reviewers and wineries.
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