Remember Internet chat rooms? Sure you do – those were the simple, on-line places where you could converse, via written text-based messages, with other seemingly like-minded folks about an endless array of topics, ranging from politics to puppy grooming. Well, converse until the person on the other end asked “Are you a chick? are you hot?”
Back in those days, I had two buddies who would frequent on-line chat rooms dedicated to topics about Wars, and strike up a group conversation. Once they thought that they’d earned the trust of the folks chatting on-line, they would say something deliberately inflammatory like “all of the Star Wars books suck!” and start a short-lived but vicious flame-war, during which they would often change sides to try to confuse the poor people who jumped into the fray. It was kind of like an all-out Star Wars chat room ballroom brawl.
Ah, the heady, youthful and poignantly ignorant days of the Internet!
Forums came next, but aren’t real-time, and in the on-line wine world the forums most closely associated with print media (eRobertParker.com and Winespectator.com) have been marred by the negative perceptions of hostility on the part of both members and moderators.
In these more recent days, the chat room and the on-line forum have been superseded. We have seen the future of on-line wine chat, and it’s full of wine twits like me.
There is a place where wineries, media, bloggers, and wine lovers are congregating to chat about wine on-line, and it’s called twitter. And if you love wine, you need to be part of this virtual community.
I’m not going to ‘explain’ twitter here. Mostly because it’s very difficult to explain twitter, and I’m lazy. Instead, I’m just going to try to convince you that if you’re not yet part of the wine community on twitter, then you need to be.
Fortunately for me, that’s actually pretty easy, because it pretty much boils down to one only reason (and even I can explain that one!)…
Everybody else is doing it, and you can’t reap the benefits of its value until you join in.
That’s it, really. I’m done.
What, you want evidence? Alright, alright… How about this…
The entire spectrum of people who are poised to influence the future of wine (how it’s sold, how it could be made, what brands to which Gen Y will start to connect) are talking about wine collectively on twitter. Dale Cruse has dedicated a substantial portion of his wine blog to documenting this wine twiterati, and it’s likely that from those same ranks will one day emerge the future power brokers of wine media (please note I said “future” and NOT “current”).
Don’t believe me? Well then, consider this: Darren Rowse, the mastermind behind the truly awesome and inspiring ProBlogger.net and one of the few people globally who can make a comfortable living doing nothing but blogging (not to mention being someone who not only has his finger on the pulse but is actually influencing how the future of social media is taking shape) picked up on Dale’s Top 10 wine twitter people to follow and highlighted the list on his twitter-focused blog.
I think that my good friend Jeff Lefevere summed up the importance of the wine world going on-line in this quote, taken from a recent interview with Jeff published by Sacre Bleu Wine:
“The long-term impact of this whole Internet thing is our media is changing. Newspapers and magazines aren’t going to go away, but we’re seeing the big ship make its long turn and instead of the Internet being one component of a marketing mix that is predominantly offline, we’re seeing the Internet turn into the main focus supported by offline activity. It’s a 180 degree change we’re going through now and the natural result is some new voices will emerge that are no longer hindered by legacy gatekeepers.”
If the Internet is the main focus for that juggernaut Argo wine ship, then twitter is its “wave motion gun.” Damn, did I just throw out a Starblazers reference? CHECK IT!!!
Now, at this point you might be thinking “But Joe, I’ve heard that only 14 year-old girls use twitter?”
You have my permission to smack whoever told you that squarely in the face (you may want to first ascertain that this person is smaller than you, doesn’t know some form of martial arts, and/or is a slow runner before administering the face-slap). Look at it his way: how many 14 year-old girls do you know who discuss fine wine online?
In case you haven’t noticed, most of the wine people talking on want to talk to you on twitter, as well. They’re offering an open invitation for you to join the conversation, in fact, provided you don’t do it simply to perform blatant sales pitches to them (hint: that’s not conversing, it’s being the annoying ‘close / loud talker’ at the party ). For example, some of you may have noticed the [ SARCASM WARNING! ] subtle reference to my twitter account located on the blog:
[ END SARCASM ]
I guess what I’m saying is that the on-line wine world has reached a critical mass on twitter. There’s no turning back at this point. Twitter itself could crash & burn, but the conversation would still remain (taken up at Facebook or possibly on another service that has yet to be invented). The point is that the conversation is happening, and you can’t be heard unless you join in now.
Just one word of warning – apparently, using twitter negatively impacts a form of memory called, uhm… ahhh…, crap, I forget…