Friday, March 07, 2008

When online friends get real

We've been here before, about 6 months ago, when Facebook rather exploded onto the scene (for me) and there seemed to be a collective & feverish drive to make new friends and contacts, discuss big ideas and make grand plans. It got so busy I spent ages on Facebook joining groups for Wine Bloggers, Wine 2.0, Sherry Lovers, Beards of the World United (that was just for me) and more.

The result was that I got to know a lot of new people and link up with some really interesting friends. We talked and talked and emailed and posted and ... nothing really came of it.

Photo courtesy of Richard.HThe problem with Facebook is that it is a virtual "freshers fair". It is like that first week at school/college/university, where all new arrivals feel equal and can shake off the social shackles accumulated over years at their previous school. These fresh faces desperately try to make a new circle of friends and create a new persona, meeting as many others as possible and "becoming friends". Unfortunately it never stays that way, and by week 2 you will probably never see half those people again and you discover that the creepy guy who seemed seemed so mysterious is actually just creepy.

Facebook is good for showing your face (!) and getting snippets of information, even gathering into groups, but it does not offer the tools for in-depth discussions and planning. The serious business of making proper friendships doesn't happen at the Freshers Fair, it happens later.

And that is what is happening right now.

At one time is seemed that all that time & effort seemed destined to be wasted, but thankfully I continued to have email conversations with Ryan and Gabriella Opaz at, and through them also began discussions with Joel Vincent of Wine Life Today.

This group is much more driven, and instead of just talking, we've started projects on the European Wine Bloggers Conference, the Open Wine Consortium and a few more things in the pipeline too exciting and confidential to mention just yet. These are some great tools for exploring and developing the Wine Conversation.

I have also met or am planning to meet up with several of these virtual friends, including Steve De Long, Emilio Saez, Jacob Gaffney as well as Ryan and Gabriella.

So, thanks Facebook for the party, I'll be back again, but the place to hang out with friends is elsewhere.

* Photo Courtesy of Richard.H


Peter F May said...

The bloggers conference is intriguing, and I'd like to visit the Rioja region, but my doubts include the value of it versus the costs of getting there from the UK and the effort of organising travel & accommodation.

So at the moment I am a firm 'maybe'.

Robert McIntosh said...

Thanks Peter. The cost of getting there will not be too high. We are working on the details but after flights (£50?) we are hoping to have a bus sponsored so no great cost.

As for accommodation troubles, we will sort all that. I'm nt sure bout cost, but 4* in LogroƱo is less than €70 a night before we explore any 'help' with that cost.

These elements should not put you off, but as to the value of the conference, that is up to ll of the participants. The best value is linking up with like minded people and making something of the relationships.

I'd love to taste your choices for the first night's tasting though.

Keep us in mind!!

Anonymous said...

Amen to this post. So much can be done. I find this is true of most of "web2.0" - its a general purpose technology that some geeks throw out there and its not until someone finds a useful way to leverage that technology for a specific purpose it remains just that, a technology with potential.

Wine trade is begging to understand and work with these technologies and those of us motivated enough just need to step up and show the way. Its called leadership and its been a pleasure to get these efforts started with you guys on the other side of the pond.