A recent spate of criticism levied against wine bloggers as a general group got me thinking that there actually isn’t a thing we might call “wine blogging” anymore.
Think about it this way:
Should – or can – we stop people from taking cell phone pictures?
Most of the photos taken by mostly everyone are terrible. Awful lighting. Laughable composition. Deer-in-the-headlights use of (the horror!)… a flash! And don’t get me started on the subject matter chosen for well over 95 percent of what will be the estimated trillion (yes, trillion) digital photographs taken over the next year.
Almost none of those images will even qualify as a mortifying embarrassment for any professional – or even semi-pro – photographer. So, why not rise up in protest, gnash our teeth, and collectively bitch and moan that “amateur photography” is a blight on the professional photography world?
Because that idea is ludicrous, of course. It’s full of faulty assumptions, not the least of which is the notion that amateur personal photography could be controlled – impossible on its face with the proliferation and ease of both its creation (try finding a cell phone without a camera option, folks) and its distribution and publication (flikr… Pinterest… Instagram… the book of face…).
Another impossibly stupid assumption: that all, or even a tiny fraction, of amateur photographers actually believe themselves to be performing at a professional level, and are taking pictures for any reason other than their own personal enjoyment.
If you’re still with me, I’m about to tie this back into the wine world (thanks for your patience… I owe you a glass of something decent)…
If we accept that the assumptions above are wrong at best, and ludicrous at worst, then WHY THE F*CK DO WE CONTINUE TO APPLY THE SAME ASSUMPTIONS TO WINE BLOGGING?!??
I’ve got news for the folks who are complaining about “wine blogging” as a group activity: you’re a few years late to the party. I’d go so far as to say that there’s no such thing as wine blogging anymore, just as there isn’t actually “blogging” anymore on any topic. The act of blogging, still exists, of course; but the separation of blogging from media publication is now just an academic construct.
The ease of writing and publishing have made creating a blog post the written equivalent of taking a photo with your cell phone. Pros do it. Semi-pros do it. Total amateurs who will never entertain the thought of being professional about it also do it. You can’t stop it, you cannot wish it away, and you are a fool to think that complaining about it will change the vast majority of it. You are doubly a fool for even using the term “blogger” and thinking that it has any agreed, defined meaning in terms of a definitive set of people.
The bottom line is that creating and publishing *any* kind of media now exists along a spectrum, from total amateur to seasoned pro, and they’re almost all using the same toolsets. The difference is primarily in the quality of the content that gets created. If you want to equate the medium and the quality, then… well… we are back to justifiably calling you a fool, aren’t we?
So in a way, there is no “wine blogging,” folks. There is only a spectrum of content quality and a spectrum of professionalism in the creation of that content with respect to wine.
43 thoughts on “There Is No Wine Blogging”
Well put, Joe.
I love this. It’s exactly how I feel. I don’t consider myself to be a blogger anyway, even though I have a couple of websites where I write and include photos. I am a curator and sharer of wine and travel experiences. If some people enjoy it, find. If they don’t, fine. There are plenty of other options out there, from novice to expert.
In other words, everyone and every enterprise in social media eventually sinks to the bottom of the barrel because of its uncontrollable proliferation. How then to separate the (using another metaphor) wheat from the chaff? Readers have to bring their own intelligence, experience and discrimination to the occasion as well as a set on intentions and expectations. If one is content to read some guy spouting off like “Wow, just had my first Chablis Grand Cru — fucking awesome!” so be it. If one is looking for more thoughtful ideas and criticism (as on 1WineDude), well, then you search for what you need. It’s the same in just about everything in life.
Fredric – thanks for that! I agree, finding useful information in some ways has never been easier than it is today. The price paid is volume, but I think most of us have adapted quickly to that.
Those wine bloggers, they’re such crap they don’t even use spellcheck. ;-) typo in your last graph, buddy,
Alder – ha!!!
Joe, the difference is that the billions of amateur photographers don’t routinely deride professional photographers. We don’t tell the old “old, white men” wielding their large format cameras that they’re irrelevant and are being replaced by iPhones. And, even if we did, the facts support that assertion whereas they do not in our little world.
I do directionally agree with your sentiment though.
Michael, the thousands and thousands of people sharing about wine don’t attack the pros for the most part, either.
I couldn’t care less about the definition of blogging or the fact that bloggers (or whatever Joe wants to call them) exist.
What I care about is the race to the bottom; the devaluation of literate, knowledgeable writers precipitated by a flood of those who are neither. You do get what you pay for, but even that fact hasn’t stopped the race downward.
Thomas, nothing can stop the race to the bottom. Fighting it is useless. On the other side, it’s never been easier for the good stuff to get published, and never so easy to find it.
Yes, it’s never been easier to get published, as long as professional writers can file for food stamps to stay alive.
I wonder, though, why you think it’s useless to fight against the race to the bottom. Is it sad reignation or happiness that guides your view?
Thomas – neither. It’s a question of volume. If the argument is that the best writing is getting worse, then I don’t agree.
The argument is that volume is valued over any other concern, which in many cases is to reach people who have no desire to spend time reading more than a few words. Even email suffers: most people don’t read beyond two sentences.
As with wine, high volume skews toward mediocrity–or worse.
The best writing isn’t getting worse. Good writers either accept less money or risk being ignored.
Thomas, the publishing would be easy regardless of what pro writers are paid. The movement is inevitable. Many sports news articles are written by software, for example.
I know that. I am talking about the consequences.
It appears you have resigned yourself to the race to the bottom. Fine. But I don’t think it’s a good thing, either for writing as a profession or for our cutlure, such that remains of it.
Thomas, I’m actually saying that the bottom hasn’t changed, we now just have ready access to it, unlike in the past.
Au contraire, I suspect that the proliferation of amateurs writing online actually increases the real value of professional writers. The cream rises to the surface. However, with ever more people writing there will be more of everything…good, bad and otherwise.
The world as whole is changing. Many tasks that once earned a good living no longer offer such an opportunity. There’s a kind of eco-Darwinism happening. We must continually reinvent ourselves in order to remain relevant.
Moreover, the trend is accelerating. I’m told that the proliferation of self-driving vehicles will put more people out of work than anything in recent memory.
Mj – agreed. The bottom line is that societally we don’t put as much value on those tasks as we once did. In some cases, this is sad, but likely it’s also symptomatic of those tasks and industries not adapting quickly enough.
Maybe rather than “blogger” the new term should be the equivalent of “self-publisher.” Seems like the biggest distinction is whether or not some other established publication or writer has actually published a person’s writing under that publication’s brand. Even book writers can be self-published now.
Jon, I’d go so far as to include micro blogging platforms in that mix, as well.
Agreed. You can easily stream a live feed of your Facebook posts to your self-published wine Web site.
Great post! The fact that we all now have the same toolsets is incredibly profound, but most people still approach “blogging” and digital media in general with a DIY mindset. Moving beyond blogging requires people to recognize and embrace the power of the publish button.
Yeah, and all you have to do to become a surgeon is recognize the power of a sharp knife or laser beam. I know that is an inflation of the concept, but it is a reflection of its absurdity.
only recently was I made aware that I am a “wine blogger.” Who would have thunk it? Great post, man.
DB – ha! Thanks, bro.
Volume is an issue. But I wouldn’t give up the opportunity to hear from winemakers and other such voices in an unfiltered way just to reduce the amount of not-very-good wine writing.
Tom, I feel the same way.
The issue for me has always been original thought and critical thinking. Every industry has to slog through the miasma of bad, lazy, and unimaginative writing. And it’s up to the consumer to discern the difference. Not an easy thing to do, especially when it comes to an arcane subject such as wine.
Alan, that’s true, but as consumers we are forced to do this all of the time, across any number of topic areas.
1 Wine Dude: Do not try to blog about wine. That would be impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
1 Wine Dude: There is no wine blogging.
Sean – ha! Hope about I give the complainers the finger… And they give me my phone call…
Did you just throw out the “there is no spoon” argument here? Oh wait, I see Sean beat me to that reference.
You don’t usually hear winemakers complaining about the random numbers of people who make wine in their basements do you? Same concept. I totally agree with your points.
Nova – yep, totally. :-)
But you do sometimes hear of the random numbers of “pro” winemakers “giving our region a bad name.” So I’m thinking this whole debate applies to many other groups of people besides writers and winemakers…
Jon, absolutely. Part of the point here is that wine isn’t special in terms of being immune from this sort of spectrum/distribution.
My comment is yet another post the lights up your audience….awesome job Joe.
Think of it this way: What if in 1975 everyone were given free access to a printing press and were able to send the product of that printing press to anyone who wanted it, and for free!!
That’s publishing today.
When blogging tools first became available it really was a revolution in the ease of publishing and the reduced cost in distributing a published document. It just happened that most of the new “publishers” did so in a relatively consistent format called “blogging”.
But even from the very beginning it was always about quality. Always. The best wine publishers (bloggers) rose to the top and they still do.
Tom – agreed.
The title is slightly ironic, coming from a person who made his name in the industry as a wine blogger
Scrappy, indeed. A lot changes in eight years.
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