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Friday, November 05, 2010

Yet Another Super Meta Navel-Gazing Post About Beer Blogging

Again, I have a strong belief that almost no one who reads beer blogs cares about the navel-gazing of beer bloggers. So feel free to move along. But, since Stan and Alan and Andy have gone so meta here as the beer bloggers conference starts, I've got to weigh in. The truth is, there are a lot of beer bloggers now, and they have a lot of different reasons for blogging. My opus below--but I'll put the whole thing below the drop down menu to spare the innocent bystanders.

Click here if you really want to read on...


  1. I started my original blog because it was a way for students at Big State University to get to know me and to see economics applied in less formal arenas. Especially since there is not much of a culture of seeking out professors outside of class at my school. A fledgeling economics club also served to reinforce how much social space has become virtual for the youngsters.

    In other words it created for me a new channel of communication that did not previously exist and one that I think enhances my contribution to the education of my students.

    Along the way, it gave me more of a public voice on policy issues and I have found it a great way to escape the ivory tower and engage the real world while remaining an academic. This enhances my contribution to the people of the state of Oregon which is part of what I consider to be my job.

    So to me blogs are one of the best things about the internets - as you stated you can get a peek into the minds and personalities of all kinds of interesting and entertaining people. Of course, you lose the filter that publishing provided but I have fund that I end up reading those that seem to have a good self-filter already.

    I blog about beer because it is fun and it is also fun to think about economics with beer and the beer business as foil. If anyone finds it interesting they'll read and if not, I'll still have fun doing it. I hope there is an audience out there for my drivel, but it is not what motivates the beer blog.

    Mostly, I like beer blogs because they tell me all about new beers, new pubs, new trends that I find useful in the every more heterogenous world of craft beer. I think they are great.

  2. Well said, Jeff. Actually, it reminds me of something you said to me about blogging the first time we met: "A rising tide lifts all boats". There's no need for the pros to get snippy about amateurs or upstarts -- if anything, we create more buzz that will add to their readership and/or livelihood.

  3. Good post.

    I started mine since it helps me keep track of beers I've tried and events I've been to. It's not for profit or personal gain - just a spot to get my thoughts down. So, yes, pretty much in agreement with your last few sentences.

  4. I largely agree. The post that generated so much discussion was perhaps mean-spirited and cynical, but I think pointlessly grumpy, tedious and irrelevant comes closer to the mark.

    (Jeff, I'm not sure I'm so fatalistic about traditional media, but we can have that discussion another time).

    I blog because I enjoy it. If Alan doesn't enjoy it, he shouldn't blog.

    That's the gist of my take, but I've got more on my blog if anyone's interested:

  5. a sinking boat lowers all boats as well

  6. Just to be clear - who the hell said I didn't like blogging? Read the posts like Jeff obviously did.

  7. Alan - How about this?:

    "I have long been wary of blogging in general and more specifically when it comes to blogging about beer ... it often devolves into a very self-absorbed activity, focused on such inane, personal details as to interest only the tiniest sub-sections of an already infinitesimally small niche."

    No, you never flatly state you don't like beer blogging. But I think we can be forgiven for thinking your enjoyment does not come across in your most recent post.

  8. Here's the great thing about a blog, if you don't like the content, don't read it! Complaining about blogs is about as stupid as complaining about certain radio shows. Unless you're being compelled at the end of a gun to read the blog or listen to the radio complaining about it is ridiculous.

  9. Good Lord. Way to be subtle with the reading skills. Try this one and see if you can figure it out:

  10. "a sinking boat lowers all boats as well"

    Actually, a sinking boat would raise the other boats because it's adding volume to the water. Previously it was floating on the water, then it's under the water. The aded volume of the sinking boat, thus, raises the other boats.

  11. Shawn,

    Actually that's incorrect. As a boat floats it displaces more than it's own weight, hence how it floats, when it sinks the level of the water would fall.

  12. Blogs are written from the heart, and tend to not be influenced by ad dollars. Bloggers should blog to share their personal experience, and not worry about readership. That will come should the blogger hit a connection to the reader. In the end, it taints your writing, if you change yourself to try to appeal to more people. If you are not honest, it will come through.
    Personally as a pro brewer, I read blogs to help generate the pulse of what is happening in the beer public. With "journalists" you can never be sure if their posts are driven by their feelings or the ad dollar.
    Keep doing what you do, and don't worry about what another person puts on their "blog".

  13. @Shawn and @ DABeers... actually, sinking or floating, displacement all depends on volume, density and all sorts of nifty other principles - but in this context, mainly the principle of 'taking a metaphor too far'. Along those lines, as an ex submariner, they're all targets to me. :-)

    @All As Patrick would point out, a perfect market will keep the bloggers who add value, and marginalize those who do not. There are, without question, frictions in the market to be sure (mainly in finding good bloggers, and frankly, in the audience understanding the difference).

    But writers write, regardless of the audience. In my own case, I don't publish 90% of the blogs I write... I get them out of my head, but realize that one day I want to run for larger office as a judge - and frankly, these things have a way of being taken out of context. But they no longer linger unwritten in my subconscious intruding at the odd early morning hour.

    That said, we (collectively) read what we relate to. I share almost universally differing beer tastes from the two beer blogs I read most often (Jeff and Patrick). However, I love beer, love Econ, and get an absurd mental woody when the two are combined. Their friendship and thus the occasional back and forth makes me feel somehow integrated in the conversation.

    So... gazing at the navel... do we care - yup. We are voyeuristic bastards to the man (woman, etc). Do the motivations matter - in the end no. In our own solipsistic world, if it matters to us, we read it, if it does not, we don't. The 'trinsic motivations of the blogger are frankly their concern, the market decides the rest.

  14. I've mostly stayed out of this discussion, despite figuring somewhat prominently in it. However, since you're so damned big on Wikio, I might as well post here .

    First, I don't agree with Andy about the value of an unpaid blog for a paid writer. I've got quite a few jobs from my blog, including one of my most lucrative, so...I'm still paying that one off. I'd note that I do blog more often than Andy, so maybe that's a difference. Blog, Facebook, Twitter: it's all marketing, and you're not just marketing to readers. As Jeff notes, you're marketing to editors, too, and plenty of them have no idea who the hell I am, so it behooves me to give them a chance to find out that I actually know what I'm talking about and that I can express it.

    Second, I agree with the "blog like nobody's reading" sentiment, which I saw embodied beautifully here, at "Laci the Dog's Blog":
    These are my opinions and I don’t care if you read this. I blog for myself, but don’t mind if others read what I write. I don’t really want to hear from you–unless you agree with me or can offer informative, intelligent, and constructive comments. Quality over quantity is my preference for comments. Right on, doggie: I have two blogs -- The Session Beer Project and Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished -- that exist only for my own agenda; and the PLCB blog has probably cost me business (although it has gotten me on the local FOXNews affiliate twice; gotta love facetime in the nation's fifth-largest media market). I do hope people are reading those two blogs, because they're exhortatory, but I don't expect them to do as well on readership as the main one.

    Finally? I absolutely understand the drive to blog. It's how I got started writing. I was a librarian who was keeping an actual beer diary, on paper, that no one read but me...but I had to do it. Had to. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook: same thing without the paper. I would definitely be doing this if I weren't being paid. Absolutely. The difference is that when the job market sucked my employment out of existence, I jumped ship, and started writing for money, and was able to keep it together doing that. It's not easy, and the hours are stupid -- coming off three long days on the road, home for 40 hours, and I'm back out again -- but I'm happy.

    Whose writing is more 'pure,' or 'better,' or less influenced by concerns about advertising? Well...I have blogged stuff I couldn't sell, for sure. Was it more pure? No, mostly it was stuff my editors didn't think would appeal to enough readers. So I think a lot of that is more about the individual rather than the medium.

    I don't read any blogs every day. I'm more interested in reading fiction and history, and playing with my dogs, and enjoying the day. But I enjoy sitting down and reading a month's worth of Stan Hieronymus occasionally, or getting caught up with Ron Pattinson's details, or Martyn Cornell and Pete Brown's insights. Blogging? Good.

  15. Lew, I take it that in your monthly blog reading, you occasionally take a look here, and for that I am most happy.

  16. I do look in on your blog, Jeff (along with all the other thousands of people), because you're not saying the SOSO, 'reviewing' beers, and mostly because you're my window on the PNW. And thanks for that.

  17. I just want to say thank you, Jeff, for putting this response so well, and thus allowing me to just direct readers here and then blog on what I want to.

  18. Lew, I read you for the same reason: you're my window to Philly and the region--the only person I know who covers this super beer-rich area. I also appreciate that we share a passion for session beers. One day, when we are kings....

    Greg, thanks--