The Meta Post

I have let this blog atrophy.  I’m not a competitive person but I’ll admit I was a little sad at not even making the top 20 wikio rankings this month. (If  Stonch can have a zombie blog, why can’t I?) The very inclusion in that list denotes a closed circuit: other beer bloggers must read and link to this blog for it to be included, and I need to keep writing.

But do I?  This is not a plea for inclusion or encouragement, but a searching aloud.  I never intended this blog to be read by other beer obsessives.  To my delight I have found the community of UK beer bloggers to be really welcoming, fun people, but my purpose with this blog as it grew was to turn casual beer drinkers or even non-beer drinkers on to the marvel that is beer by communicating the context– the specific social moment.  Beer is a genius locii– to drink it is to get to know where ever you find yourself.

I have written about bottles I’ve drunk in my flat all alone, but is it interesting? And for a time I was starting a new career which was quite physically and emotionally rigorous– the exact opposite of an office job.  The last thing I wanted when I was done for the day was a drink that I then had to write about.  Though also during that time I would look at my neglected Google feed and see 500+ beer posts I hadn’t read and I would despair.  I had completely fallen away from this community I’d really come to love, but it also made me wonder where everyone found the time to read all the other blogs and continue to write themselves.

There is an unhealthy notion that if you have a blog you must keep it current.  The  “Blog or Die” attitude is a problem.  Why keep talking if you have nothing to say?  What is an online persona anyway and why do I need one?  If you stop talking, does your persona die?  In any blogging sphere there is the fantasy that a blog can be a stepping stone to some other media opportunity, some professional gig, instant internet stardom.  If that ambition can’t involve productive silence every once in a while, then something’s wrong.

As I wonder about all of this, beer bloggers get a challenge from Pete Brown to up the ante, take risks and make the beer blog matter.  I’ve never shied away from a challenge.

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15 Responses

  1. Hee hee, I eagerly await the results!

    Some excellent points about the ‘meaning’ of blogs though. One thing I share – and which was the partial inspiration for my challenge – is that I too started blogging, as I do in all my writing, to turn new or casual drinkers onto more interesting beers. As you say, the discovery of the beer blogging community is a delight and I talk excitedly about the rise of this community to anyone who’ll listen. But the problem with being read by other beer bloggers is that you start to write for other beer bloggers, and the conversations become closed loops that ultimately alienate the casual reader – or at least give them no reason to participate.

    For the record, I’ve always found your personal beer journey a compelling read, because you present it in such a thoughtful way.

    • Thanks, Pete. I found your last post encouraging– I thought it was just me that had stagnated (and sense the stagnation as well). I know from my stats that many people come to the blog looking for non-beer things, and this is encouraging. I often will read my posts and think of my non-beery potential readers– would they even know what I’m talking about? Have I explained my terms? When I refer to other beer bloggers does it seem like a closed clique of pseudo-experts or an open and resourceful online community?

    • I also see this closed loop popping up now and again, turning sometimes into metablogging. If you’re not following it you’re definitely on the outside looking in, even if you are part of the beer blogging community.

      • I think that started to happen to my reading, Barry. I would try to pop in for a glimpse and found that just after a few weeks of not keeping up I was entirely out of the loop and found it hard to jump back in. How much harder for someone who is new to beer?

  2. I’ve been thinking about that a bit recently, as I’ve slowed down on both blogging and tweeting. I think there is a tendency to disappear into the background if you’re not actively engaging, but whether it matters or not is down to the individual. I’ll keep plodding out tasting notes because its something more or less for myself. The occasional news item or bits about my travels break the monotony on my blog, but to be honest, I’m writing in work nearly all day, so it’s nice not to have to think too deeply now and again (although my wife would argue it’s all the time!).

    I like your considered pauses followed by considered posts 🙂

  3. Seems there’s a lots of introspection on to what a beer blogger should be. Ignore it Ally and just keep doing what you do best. That’s the essence of blogging.

  4. A blog to watch, it seems. 🙂 Welcome back. I’m new.

    • Hi John, thank you for reading. Do you have a beer blog?

      • Sort of; I have a mostly-politics blog where I occasionally talk about the pub trade and beer. I will be doing more beer writing in the near future as I’m about to take over a pub of my own, where I will feel less constrained in what I can say, by the limitations of working for someone else.

        • That’s fascinating– beer and politics seem to bound up together! Where is your new pub located?

          • For hysterical and bureaucratic reasons I’m being deeply cagey about that until I’m posting from inside it; but it’s a South Coast destination town with good country-side close by and a local community which should support us well.

            There’s a lot of pubs and none of them are shut which says good things about the market I’ll be competing in, particularly given the national picture over the last two years. But there’s less pubs in the whole town than there were within a 10-minute walk of my last pub, in Hackney.

            We started off by making an offer on a rural pub in Yorkshire which stalled in red-tape. The back-up we found was a better pub and moved much faster. There will be a serious Rant unlimbered once I can name and shame!

            If a brief, low-content plug is permitted, we’ll be basing a real ale offering of 6-8 taps on Dark Star’s range, and selling British craft lagers from Freedom and Taddington breweries.

            On the second point; they do indeed. I am a passionate supporter of the long-standing British tradition of pub politics. One of my most engaging regular double-acts while I was at the Pembury are a pair of middle-aged communists who’ve been having the Trot/Marxist-Leninist debate in pubs since it was still relevant. They’re really good at it, and it’s an education to listen to a man who was at art college with Pete Townshend talking about underground politics in the ’60s in Soho.

            • Thanks for the link, John–I’m going to keep up with your blog and this next venture. I think some of the happiest times I’ve had in the UK is wandering into a country pub after a long ramble– sounds like your new pub is in the perfect place for that kind of thing and your array of ales is pretty tempting too!

              • That’s what we’re hoping to achieve, yes 🙂 It’s a delightful building suffering only from a lack of imagination during the last generation of landlords. We have no shortage of that, so it’s now about actually getting the work done. Which is daunting.

  5. Excellent post which speaks volumes about blogging in any sphere. Sometimes the actual act of writing is too much on top the actual experiencing in the first place.

    My point about “Blog or die” is that, yes, if you stop talking your persona dies. Absolutely. Without new content people will assume that you’ve died when they see the date of your last post getting older and older. You’ll still get traffic from search engines coming to older posts if they’re good but that too will diminish as more content is published in your field. Google gives heavy weighting to new content. You also benefit a lot from being a member of an active community (and I got the benefit of it as well when my own blog’s traffic spiked yesterday after your link) and referrals do count for a lot but will other beer bloggers still be directing people to your site when they know that you’re a year behind the latest developments?

    It’s not that hard to keep contributing. You don’t have to write war and peace for every blog post. Set your own targets but make sure they’re achievable.

    • Hi Barry, thanks for stopping by. I didn’t mean to pick on your post– I realized that perhaps linking to you may have been unfair, but your advice is sound. It’s something I’ve read in myriad books on marketing and using the web to promote things. I find it difficult being a writer and balancing my personal creative energies with the obligations of an internet persona.

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