A couple nights ago in San Francisco there was a social event called Wine 2.0. There, some of the most progressive technology providers to the wine industry mingled with Web 2.0 wine start-ups, wineries, venture capitalists and even some wine bloggers. I wish I could have made it for the event but assumed there would be plenty of feedback in the wine blogosphere to respond to. I seem to have been wrong on that count, as to date there has been very little conversation, which is somewhat surprising given who was there. The only mainstream coverage of the event spent much of the piece talking about an innovative and unique product, WinePod, and not much about anything close to what I think Wine 2.0 is about. The closest blog post to my expectation was from across the pond in Spain by Gabriella and Ryan of Catavino who reviewed Scrugy (thanks for the shout-out, guys!).
So I thought I’d just blog my thoughts on the current state of wine in Web 2.0 to get something started. I’ve taken to calling this category “Wine 2.0″ as a sort of mashup of terms: wine and Web 2.0. Basically this covers any online application that involves wine, but there are some important points to drill down on. For example, eBob is not a Wine 2.0 application although it is both online and devoted to wine.
As a jumping off point, I thought I’d point to a fellow Twin Cities blogger, podcaster and friend Steve Borsch’s overview of Web 2.0 that he has just published as an online e-zine. Here he covers both the technology and cultural aspects of Web 2.0 in depth. In the first section, Steve defines “3 pillars” that are enabling what he calls the, “Participation Culture.” These are: Internet as a Platform, Participation Applications and People. I don’t think there are many tech-savvy folks who will not argue that the internet is a platform, just like Microsoft Windows, MacOS or Linux. Anything that depends on participation needs people so there’s not much to add there. What I think is the most interesting part of this whole piece, and the section most relevant to wine, are the “Participation Applications” which Steve categorizes into 5 groups: 1) Social Software (Community), 2) Media Creation and Sharing, 3) Aggregation and Social Promotion, 4) Personal and Group Productivity (Collaboration) and 5) Gaming and Virtual Worlds.
I think this framework is a good one to apply to Wine 2.0 because wine is a very social product. Some of us even started blogs to capture our tasting notes and other ramblings on wine to share with our friends; next thing you know there are thousands of readers and listeners from around the world. That’s the magic of this culture of participation. Of the five categories, I think “Social Software” and “Aggregation & Social Promotion” are the most relevant to the requirements for a successful Wine 2.0 site (I almost added “Gaming and Virtual Worlds” to the list, but I’m just getting into Second Life and haven’t yet figured out where this fits from a wine perspective; Josh is doing some interesting groundwork that bears watching here).
If we look at social software, we see examples in wine like Cork’d where user submitted tasting notes are shared, tagged and rated. Examples of aggregation & social promotion are Scrugy and Wine Life Today. All we need now are wine lovers to discover these sites and start using them in large numbers to create an online community. Because I share a lot of Alder’s reservations on the tasting notes sites, I’m pessimistic that genre will be successful. I do think the aggregator sites are something worth watching (and using). This might be where Wine 2.0 finds it’s audience.
What do you think?
Update 11/11: Jason from WineLog has posted a recap of the Wine 2.0 event. Sounds like fun was had by all, some good wines enjoyed, but still nothing on the substance of the conversation… I’m hoping to see more posts on this subject over the weekend.