Friday, November 17, 2006

Food Not Blogs

Down with reading and writing. Up with eating and fighting. Help me, gosh, I’m having an existential struggle about the ultimate irrelevance of food blogs, aka web-based foodie subculture/support-groups. And now I’ve broken the first rule of food club: you don’t talk about food club.



Okay, enough nonsense and onto some philosophical jibber jabber. Last night I went to a presentation about the way blogs, wikis, and open source software have changed the very fabric of our lives. Because our knowledge base is now ever-changing and subject to collaborative authorship, we’re becoming (for better or worse) dependent on collective intelligence. Truth is increasingly subjective and consumerism is being replaced by a producer/consumer role that encourages feedback and exchange of ideas and knowledge (prosumer?).

For many, the web has revolutionized life, making our world infinitely participatory. I’m excited about all of this, but I’m also skeptical and acutely aware of the limitations of this new “marketplace of ideas.” I mean, should I really count myself among the cadre of web-based insurgents taking the power back from Big Brother, authoritarian academia, and the main stream media? Is my food blog really so significant as all that? Sure, you can get whole host of opinions on a local restaurant, rather than just relying on a semi-professional critic or Zagat survey. But can you really trust a blogger with an axe to grind cuz he got an overcooked halibut? Are cookbooks obsolete as we now see benefit from online recipes that are democratically embellished and tweaked indefinitely via comment sections of sites like Epicurious and Vegweb? And can you really trust the collective intelligence, or hive mind? Is that what the buzz is about?

My biggest concern is that the knowledge revolution isn’t really a revolution unless it can address the basic needs of people: food, shelter (and I think there’s another one, like clothes or something). Anyhow, this may sound silly, but I just want to express my frustration that the instant gratification of the internet is ultimately superficial. No one gets actual nourishment from food blogs. We just get tantalized and teased and maybe titillated. No matter how long I stare at the white winter truffle on Veronica’s Test Kitchen, I’m not actually any closer to knowing what the expensive fungus tastes like. And I may never find out, cuz I can’t rationalize the expense.

For many, the internet is just that: a representation, not reality; superfluous entertainment, an artificial distraction that only serves to delay actual unmitigated experiences. My food blog might put a pretty picture of food on your screen, but it doesn’t put food on your table. So, I’m wondering what it is that we’re all actually doing on here. Just playing? Is virtual reality every bit as legitimate as tactile reality? If I checked my email at home and never got up from that chair, I'd miss work, lose my job, get thirsty, mess myself, and die of thirst. And for what? Just because the blogosphere has accelerated the learning curve of almost any subject imaginable, does that mean that those who ignore us are somehow lesser than? Shoot, I don’t read blogs. I mean, I didn’t until I started writing one.

Okay, I’ll stop this confessional exercise in self-deprecation. It’s pointless. I just wanted to share a bit of what’s on my mind and to let you know that I'm only partly sold on this technology thing. When we return, I’m aiming to share a little list that might inspire you to spend a few dollars, but ultimately will save you time and money in the future. Bank on it, a reality- based worthwhile blog entry. No more idle fluff - for now.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Jason, I understand where you are coming from. A lot of times I wanted to give up and wondered why I was food blogging. But because I was able to put my musings on food to paper and eventually on the internet I started actually cooking from my cookbooks instead of just collecting them...

    ReplyDelete
  2. The latest issue of Brick Weekly features a little column on local blogs and there is an exerpt from this very "Food Not Blogs" posting. To editors of the RTD-Punchline merger: Thank you ever so much for helping the RVA Foodie gain a bit of exposure. However, your showing of good will only hastens the demise of your anachronistic form of media. We blogger-revolutionaries will bring down the old out-moded communication modes like ants as we hit you with millions of little piercing techno-bites. Muuaahhhaaaaa. Just kidding. Congrats on the kid, Liz'n'Pete.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous8:08 PM

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    See you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Deborah

    Term Life Insurance

    ReplyDelete
  5. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Deborah

    Term Life Insurance

    ReplyDelete

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