Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bloggers in competition

Over on facebook, Richard Auffrey asks a pertinent question:
Are wine bloggers in competition with each other? If so, how does that affect our interaction?
As it happens, this links in to things I was considering myself. As I posted a few days ago, Wine 2.0 is about interaction, and this interaction creates (in my mind) ... The Wine Conversation (see how I managed to link it back to my own subject?).

"The Wine Conversation" is about the many discussions that happen about wine because enjoying it is a common, shared experience. As the experience of wine increases in our country, hopefully so does the Conversation.

In this view of the world, bloggers are very much collaborators rather than competitors, involved in sharing information about wine and getting others involved. You can see this quite clearly in the facebook universe. Although very few, if any, of the wine bloggers have met, there is a very strong bond between them. Many have linked to each other, becoming "friends" in facebook terminology simply because of the shared interest in wine and blogging.

Before blogs, the only way to discuss wine was face-to-face, or by reading others' words in magazines and books. The former is limited and quite daunting for some people, particularly those just learning to enjoy wine, while the latter is potentially very dry (excuse the pun), so generally reserved for the real enthusiast. How were everyday drinkers supposed to get involved with the Wine Conversation?

Blogging allows individuals to put forward their thoughts not as pronouncements (as per the magazines), but as points for discussion. Everyone can get involved as much or as little as they wish by reading, commenting, or even starting their own blog. This is the interaction that makes it different from what has come before, and bloggers are as much consumers of others' blogs as they are publishers, so the Conversation metaphor is particularly apt.

By their nature blogs are limited in scope so we NEED more blogs and bloggers, and we need to read, share and converse on them, otherwise we either fall back on the old publishing models, or we become an irrelevance.

So what about the alternative view, that we might be in competition? What would bloggers be competing over?
  • Limited numbers of readers? I guess that the potential readership is unlimited for bloggers prepared to do something new (check out what Chateau Petrogasm are doing)
  • Limited advertising dollars? This is possible, but the vast majority of bloggers do not try and make money from the blogs, so this is currently irrelevant
  • Stories? Well, there might be some truth here, but in most cases this is not relevant to those blogging about wine as opposed to news
  • Ratings? On the contrary, as ratings are based on the numbers of links to your blog as much as readers, networking and cooperation are more important
  • Prizes? They do exist, but there aren't many of these yet, and in theory they are based on quality rather than content, so getting help is a winning strategy
In short, wine bloggers have a shared goal and mission, to spread the love of wine and support the Wine Conversation in their country/region/business/community, and this is done by supporting others, linking to their sites, reading their stories, sharing views and, eventually, sitting down to drink a nice bottle of wine together.


Richard A. said...

Good article. I think you hit on all of the major points on this topic. And I very much agree with you.

Jeff said...

I just posted in the Facebook group about "certitude" and my aversion to all things dogmatic. I like the subtle way you address the matter:

"Blogging allows individuals to put forward their thoughts not as pronouncements (as per the magazines), but as points for discussion. Everyone can get involved as much or as little as they wish by reading, commenting, or even starting their own blog."

"Pronouncements" build walls, I think. Conversation, opinion, and thoughtful reflection, on the other hand, build bridges. For me wine is all about relationships (see my post at The blogging community has the ability to build relationships, even if "virtual," around an wonderful shared interest.

Thanks for the good words!

Alastair Bathgate said...

...and wine is such a huge and subjective topic, that even if everyone in the world who ever drank a glass of wine, decided to start a weblog, there would still be a new, interesting view published every other second!
Blogging is the best part of social networking on the web, connecting people with similar interests and providing a giant and growing database of opinions on any subject matter one could dream up.

Robert McIntosh said...

thanks everyone - I am certainly glad you agree, and of course this only goes to back up my point

I also agree with some who say that some standard may need to emerge for being able to share that information in a reliable way, but for the moment, let's just drink, think and post (ideally in that order).

Jill said...

I disagree. My opinion is the only one that matters and I want all the wine nuts to come to my blog and my blog only. Yeah, right...

Great post. Thanks Robert! And, by the way, you are only one of two people who responded to my $10 offer (Richard was the other). So much for that idea!

(by the way, since you don't know me and probably don't know what a dry wit I have, the first paragraph was sarcastic. truly, others have taken similar things the wrong way so I just want to make sure that's clear!)

Robert McIntosh said...

Remember you are talking to a Brit. Sarcasm is our official language, we only use English on the BBC.


Thanks Jill