Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

A Storm in a Teacup

I’m amazed that so many food bloggers (Fitzroyalty, Tomatom, Sarah Cooks, Confessions of a Food Nazi (2)) are outraged at the recent publication of Gram. People are crying foul. If you read the into the hysterics, not only has their copyright been infringed but they’ve been violated. It’s as though someone has come into their home, eaten the leftovers out of their fridge, left the toilet seat up and not cleaned up after themselves.

I think it’s worth taking a step back and looking at what Gram is; what it isn’t; and exactly why everyone thinks it is such a bad thing.

First, let’s reduce Gram down to it’s first principles. It is 2 things, Advertising and a list of links to blogposts. Each of those links is manifested in the “real” world by a QR code and each link is supplied with a small quote. Clearly the links and quotes are used as what I like to think of as a “transfer medium” for the advertising. There’s no reason you would look at the ads without the content, the same way as you wouldn’t listen to the music without the CD.

I believe Gram creates value for it’s readers by curating the blogposts. They take each of the categories, finding some interesting blog posts, ad a photo and a reasonably nice design and distribute the list for all and sundry. That’s it. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is something. Not only is it something, it is something no-one else in the community is doing. Brian @ Fitzroyalty goes the closest with his local aggregators. He doesn’t curate the actual content, just the list of blogs and I’m sure he prides himself in his open, “everything is welcome” policy.

Secondly, I think it’s important to talk about what Gram isn’t. Forget the hyperbole, there is every chance that Gram is not breaching copyright. I’m no lawyer but a quick perusal of the fair dealings legislation and the copyright obligations suggest that this particular is blurry and I would suggest that pursuing this in court would be a fools game.

So if it might not be illegal, the ethics are certainly worth examining. Are they acting ethically? Are they using a food bloggers work and profiting off it? (If you cast aside the fact they probably aren’t profiting just yet) Yes, they certainly intend to profit from it. Is it unethical? As with every discussion of ethics it isn’t black and white. Sure, they could have engaged bloggers more before quoting and linking to them, but they don’t really have to. I haven’t asked permission to do the same here and I wouldn’t remove a link even if you wanted me to.

In my eyes, the business model is almost identical to that of Google’s, albeit on a much smaller scale. The quotes are of similar length, the user is there looking for something of interest, and the advertising is reasonably separate from the content and both parties provide an opportunity to opt-out. Is Google’s business model wrong? Unethical? Are you willing to block Google from your website. It’s very easy.

Finally the arguments that it is a waste of paper have taken much different paths. The QR codes are stupid, noone will download the app. The quotes are crap. The writing is bad. The design is shit. It’s printed on dead trees.  Each of these may be true, but I think instead of poo-pooing the idea, it’s worth looking at it with an open mind.

Is it promoting the blogosphere? Is it validation that what what we as a community create is valuable? Done better, could it be awesome?

Personally, I think what Gram has created isn’t amazing but with a bit of a rethink, it could be great. More and more people will understand what a QR code is, more and more people will know who the featured bloggers are and more and more people might stop only reading the Epicure for their food news.

So, if I were to publish a zine. Would anyone volunteer any of their content? I’d reproduce it in full. I’d link to your blog. I’d write a good sized blurb about you as a writer. I’d use your photo and a photo of you. I’d sell advertising. If I could afford to, I’d pay you. Would you do it if I intended to make money? What if it was explicitly not-for-profit?

Phil Lees going postal

It’s a storm in a teacup. Phil Lees over at Last Appetite has thrown down his ethical gauntlet stating, “I’ve decided to go postal on any food bloggers accepting free shit from public relations folk.” Going postal means he is going to nofollow any links to your blog and mark on his list of Australian food blogs with a dollar sign if you have accepted “cash or other incentives” for comment.

It’s an interesting point he’s raising and there is some good conversation in the comments, some people are offended others are applauding. It’s interesting because Phil is one of the only paid food bloggers in Australia, a point he is very happy to make. So to some extent it’s all a bit of the pot calling the kettle somewhere between grey and black.

Personally, I believe the rule of full disclosure on blogs works and those who don’t disclose should be named and shamed. Readers deserve to know conflicts of interest and be allowed to make up their own opinion. I’m sure this is exactly how Phil sees what he is doing, an exercise in disclosure.

At the end of the day, its one man and his blog and a dollar sign and a nofollow link probably aren’t going to make a difference to any of the affected blogs. Each blogger has their own appeal to their readers and this isn’t going to change that.

In the interest of full disclosure, someone has paid me to use so many cliches in a blog post.


I’m not afraid to admit it, I woke up and had a bit of a purge. You know when you’ve forced too much water into yourself combined with an Aching Head and a little bit of nausea and you just can’t or won’t hold it down. Well that was me. Water spew. Thankfully I seemed to have digested all of the amazing food so it was hardly a waste.

I suppose over the coming days there will be an amazing amount of people following up from the talks at the conference and I thought I would perhaps get the ball rolling. Perhaps my favourite panel of the day was the first, “How and why we blog.” Prior to the event I thought that it would be a bit wanky and I wasn’t convinced. But man I like surprises like this.

An event like this doesn’t just happen and special thanks must go to the sponsors The Essential Ingredient, Daylesford & Hepburn Mineral Water, St Ali, Der Raum, Prentice Wine, Red Hill Brewery, and SBS Food. Also thanks go to Ed, Mellie, April and Reem. Jess also hung the photo exhibition: much props go to her and whoever created that blogroll sculpture.

It’s a testament to the panelists, Gill, Reem, Zoe and the moderator Tammois that it piqued such conversation in a somewhat unfamiliar group of people. It really set the tone for the day and I kind of wished that we could have had some time to revisit it later.

The question (or title) of the panel “How and why we blog” might seem like an easy thing to answer but the reality is it isn’t. Everyone has their own motivations and desires but they also have their own style and way of going about things. I think it was interesting that Matt’s photography panel addressed his voice and style through his photos which I suppose extended the conversation from earlier.

The term voice was used a lot and it has made me think further about my voice here on My Aching Head and whether or not I’m editing it away and making this blog more impersonal and thus less engaging. This uncertainty isn’t a new idea for me but the conversation has really highlighted it in my mind and I think it is time to address it, or atleast discuss it.

The Melbourne food blogging community that I connect with has a big focus on reviewing restaurants, taking photos and describing the food and the experience. I’ve long thought that the narrative style isn’t my thing and something I’ve worked hard to cut out of my posts. I suppose in doing that I’ve moved my language a little bit away from the 1st person which makes it notably impersonal. It’s a fine line and a work in process but the acknowledgement of it should help force change.

I have also long had the desire to create a bit more of a shorter form of blogging, in part stepping back to the Kottke style of linking and making small and valuable comment. It is something that isn’t really done here in the Australian food blogging community and I think it might be interesting to my readers.

This also gets me thinking that the original purpose of this blog was more about documenting the process of getting and curing hangovers and my posts are often sadly lacking in discussing the drinking aspect of our eating.

I also found Matt’s comments on his photographic style and process really inspirational. It shows that the visual voice is just as important as the textual voice and his shoot from the hip approach seems almost within grasp of reproduction. Though I suppose that’s selling the fact that he’s got a great eye remarkably short. I’ve long been coveting a faster lens to replace my 50mm film lens and this really just rammed it home for me. I got the current lens for next to nothing, but it’s manual focus and the wrong sized sensor (which makes it permanently zoomed in) kind of suck. So as soon as my hip pocket can survive the anguish I think I shall invest.

I would love to hear peoples comments on not only their motivations and voice but also on my style and what they like about it and what they don’t.

Melbourne Blogger Drinks, looking back.

Melbourne Blogger Drinks. Sista Bella. 4pm. Well, 4pm actually ended up being closer to 5 due to them “restocking the bar” A few people made their way over to Section 8 to start precedings, they let us in, they served me sangria and I only spilled a bit on my pants. The turnout was great, a few people from the last meetup and a few new faces. I apologise if I’ve missed anyone, but leave a comment and I’ll put you on the list.

As the crowd dwindled, we left Sista Bella, and made our way up to the Lincoln Hotel for some food and, though I don’t think we actually needed it, more wine. The venison was great and the fact that they sell wine in sizes larger than a glass and smaller than a bottle is genius. I wish more places did it, in fact every place should do it.

I took a couple of photos, though probably not as many as I should have.

[flickr album=72157622354248538 num=10 size=Small]

Melbourne Blogger and Tweeter Drinks – 12th September – Sister Bella

That’s right, it is on again. If you blog or tweet about anything in and around Melbourne then you are invited to come and join us for a quiet drink or 3 at Sister Bella on the 12th September. It doesn’t matter if you write about food, wine, op shopping, fashion, art, craft, design, jewellery, your suburb, startups, business or anything else, everyone is welcome.

The proceedings will get started at 4pm and continue on until everyone leaves or we decide to move the proceedings somewhere else (can anyone say Shanghai Dumpling?) If last time is anything to go by it will definitely just be casual chats with the opportunity to meet some interesting people that you might know or like to say hi to.

If you think you are going to come, please leave a comment so that we have an idea of numbers and can forewarn the bar.


Venue: Sister Bella
Address: Snider Lane (off Drewery Lane)
Time: 4pm
Date: 12th September

Melbourne Bloggers. Meet, Greet and Drink.

The idea of having another Melbourne Blogger meetup has been bandied around a fair bit since the last food bloggers picnic. Duncan, Sarah and Thanh did a wonderful job of organising it and aside from the heat wave that put a dampener on the original date, the Commoner hosted what was a very enjoyable afternoon. The spread of food on the table that afternoon still gives me nightmares (the good kind) and I secretly kindle hopes of Jess‘s caramel tart and Duncan’s macaroons.

However, there are a huge number of bloggers in Melbourne blogging about a variety of things, while I like to think of myself as a food, wine and cocktail blogger, I love meeting people with a passion for anything and everything and we all love Melbourne so without further ado, I would like to annouce…

31st May. Melbourne Bloggers Meet, Greet and Drink.

The idea is that anyone that is blogging in Melbourne, about Melbourne or is in Melbourne is welcome to come and meet like-minded people. That means all of you craft, food, wine, technology, sport or news bloggers are invited.

The Workshop Bar, Corner A’Beckett and Elizabeth St

View Workshop Bar in a larger map

The venue is The Workshop Bar on the corner of A’Beckett and Elizabeth St. It’s a casual non-intimidating bar, close to transport and there is a semi-private room that we can utilise if it starts getting too busy. The bar is upstairs and the entrance is this dark doorway on the Victoria Markets side of A’Beckett St. We will get started around 3pm and hopefully not wake up on Monday morning with too much of an aching head.

In the interest of getting an idea of numbers, if you are interested, please leave a comment here. Also, feel free to invite anyone else who might be interested. All are welcome.