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Tuesday Tributes
The Blog As Pot Stirrer

By Stephen Eliot

A good wine blog may be many things—story teller, wine channeler, future predictor. Sometimes, it also has to challenge the status quo.

Last week, Steve Heimoff created a bit of a stir with his laments that wine-blogging might be going the way of sensational tabloids. Well, as commented on by a few of his readers and an absolute truth from where I sit, a bit of “sensationalism” might be expected in trying to attract readers when each and every day in the wine business is far from exciting and slow news days abound. What’s the big deal?

I do not see that the vast bulk of blogging has ever had anything to do with news, education or fine expository prose. Blogging, I think, is far more about thinking out loud and about the airing of opinion. Of making yours known and letting other folks know when they are so clearly wrong. There is a lot of fist-shaking-at-the sky going on precisely because there is precious little real “news” to be had. And, when something of some significance happens in the vinous world, say Mr. Parker’s abdication of responsibility for reporting on California wines or the state of California’s recently concluded harvest, the blogosphere swings into action and quickly beats the newly arrived horse to death.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some very interesting voices and some fine thinking to be found out here in the electronic ether, but the din of axes being continually ground threatens at times to make those voices harder to hear. It is a lot like the crowded world of those dispensing wine advice, the one in which I live, you gradually start making decisions about to whom and to whom not to listen.

I appreciate the efforts of all who would take the time to blog even if they have absolutely nothing to say, and inane blather scares me far less than the idea that there should be rules and regulations and “standards” about topic, technique or talent. Scarier yet are the folks who make them. The world of blogging is about as laissez-faire an endeavor as exists even if some seem to think of it in more proprietary terms.

Nobody is forced to partake. Nobody is forced to listen and what is or is not of value is up to the reader. I feel no need to ridicule those whom I think are Internet fools. I am quite content to ignore them. And, if it turns out that they develop a large and loyal following, I can always sit to the side in the smug certainty that I know more than they do.

Blogging that matters will be recognized for what it is, and those voices that do have something to say will be heard. There will always be exceptions, and, because there are few “absolutes” in our business, there will be plenty of opposing opinions, but I still have faith in the notion that the cream will rise to the top—when, if you will forgive the mixed metaphor, it is stirred appropriately.

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