There has been a lot of buzz among the foodie bloggers the past few days about an article written by Pete Wells in Food & Wine Magazine. Mr. Wells is pretty condescending and dismissive of food blogs.
It reminded me of the way I imagine the railroad tycoons talked about the automobile and airplane eighty years ago. Christopher Locke does a much better job of explaining it in Gonzo Marketing :
Even after the advent of automobiles, trucks, and airplanes, the railroad tycoons remained imperturbably self-confident. If you had told them 60 years before that in 30 years they would be flat on their backs, broke, and pleading for government subsidies, they would have thought you totally demented. Such a future was simply not considered possible.
Wells has barely scratched the surface of the blogosphere. If he dug deeper, he would find virtual communities teaming with intelligent life. Something profound is going on here. The linking between blogs, the camaraderie between bloggers, and the conversations across multiple blogs form the metaphorical protozoa of a whole new kind of network or communications medium. Blogs and the Internet are to traditional mass media as the telephone is to television. Blogs are the people's network.
In Wells' world of Mass Media, the communication is one-way. The tycoons decide what we shall read, hear, and see. We mere mortals have no voice except for the Letters to the Editor page. Well, screw that. On the Internet we come together around content that interests us, and if we can't find an outlet for content that interests us we'll create our own outlet.
Wells scoffs at bloggers talking about cheese sandwiches, but the blogosphere is a microcosm of the rest of the world. If bloggers are talking about cheese sandwiches then clearly people are interested in cheese sandwiches. If Wells thinks that cheese sandwiches are not worthy of discussion in his exhalted publication, then it's his loss.
The iron horses of today are Mass Marketing and Mass Media, and blogs and e-Zines are the equivalent of the automobile and airplane. Only this time the tycoons don't have sixty years.