Posts Tagged ‘meta’

#mEatDrinkBlog – Valentines Day Edition

It’s been a long time between drinks, but we are finally there. The next #mEatDrinkBlog will be a PotLuck dinner held at the lovely co-working space of Inspire 9 on, the 14th February.

What to bring?

It’s a potluck, so bring your favourite potluck dish, whether that’s a curry, a salad or a heart-shaped pavlova and we’ll all feast on a bit of this and a bit of that. Also, feel free to bring a bottle of wine, a six pack of beer or a Big Lebowski style White Russian kit.

As far as cooking implements go, there are a couple of gas cookers and a microwave but no oven and not too many pots and pans. Best bet is to bring your food in a stove-top casserole dish or something of the sort. If you are unsure, just drop me a line and I’ll be able to give some guidance.

Who’s invited?

Anyone and everyone who’s interested in food and food blogging/writing. We are a friendly bunch so feel free to bring a friend.


7:00pm, 14th February.


Inspire 9. Level 1, 43 Stewart St. Richmond. It’s right next to the Richmond Train station. So take a tram down Swan St, or a train to Richmond station.


We haven’t really had a definite yay, or nay about having talks. i9 is a great spot for something or other, so if you are interested in giving us a talk about something, please let me know.


RSVP in the comments here or email me at just so we have some idea of numbers.

How to Better Engage the New (and old) Media

I drank French and Australian champagne at a launch party on Tuesday night, I ate some of the food as well. It was nice, apparently of Creole influence and put together by a chef that’s worked at some other places as well. I’ve got to thank the guys at My Mexican Cousin for their hospitality and at the risk of sounding like a right wanker, make some suggestions.

Sure, I enjoyed it. It’s nice to be made to feel important. It’s nice to mingle with interesting people. Ultimately though, I’m not that engaged, my readers won’t be engaged if I write a post about it so I won’t.

Here’s some ideas I’ve got to better engage people like me.

You’ve got to bear in mind that food bloggers are people that love food or whatever it is they write about. They probably already love what you are doing and they probably don’t need to be bribed into writing. Show them how to cook your signature dish. They want to write – that’s why they are bloggers. You must also realise that bloggers can write any kind of post. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant review. It could be a recipe, or an interview, or anything else you’ve not thought of. Empower them to do cool stuff about you and the will.

  • Talk. The owner, the chef, the sommelier or the head barista needs to introduce themselves and make themselves available to answer any questions.
  • Taste. Invite the people you are trying to engage for a tasting. I’m not talking a free lunch here, more like 1 of every dish on a table for them to sample. Give them time. Let them take photos. Let them talk to each other.
  • Access. Show them the kitchen, show them the produce in uncooked form. Show them what’s so great about the coffee machine, show them the wine cellar. Show them everything and anything. Let them take photos. Answer questions.
  • Timing. Bloggers have other jobs. Make it easy for them to get to it. After work is great, a weekend would be nice.
  • Teach. Show them how to cook your signature dish. Show them how to pull an awesome shot. Tell them why the wine list is as it is.
  • Relationships. Build an ongoing relationship with bloggers that are active in your area, suburb or space. They’ll be more willing to contact you if they want to write a story or have a problem.

You’ll note that nothing here is outrageous, in fact is far less outrageous than pouring a shitload of good wine down my neck and I’ll appreciate it more.

It’s worth reading the series of posts that Thanh wrote about his experience at Steer Bar and Grill. For some more interesting reading, check out Stickifingers take on the PR industries view of food bloggers. Here and here.

SEO Presentation Slides

I was honoured to have half an hour of everyone’s time at Australian Food Blogger’s conference on Saturday. My talk was about search engine optimisation and due to a technical glitch the slides weren’t able to be shown at the time. I’m attaching them below. I’ve actually added a slide that I wasn’t going to show on the weekend that I think helps to clarify the discussion of link networks. Bonus!

As I mentioned SEO is one of those things that is easy and hard at the same time. My advice is to focus on the basics that you can control and not worry too much about stuff you can’t control.

I didn’t mention on the day, but it was in the final slide. I’d love it if you are linking to this presentation if you could link to my other website (my winery directory)

mEatDrinkBlog – 22nd September

It’s that time again, mEatDrinkBlog has been locked in for the 22nd September at the Vine Hotel, 59 Wellington Street, Collingwood. It isn’t Bastille day, and no-one is organising a truffle dinner so I’m expecting a good turnout. It will get started at 7pm.

As far as food goes, I’ve asked Mr Ron O’Bryan to ensure that the vegetarian’s amongst us are catered for. I know it was a little bit shit at the last one.

As always, everyone who is interested in eating, writing about food, tweeting about food or talking to a swathe of random bloggery types is welcome.

For the talk/entertainment, we discussed at the last meetup of having a few different people (bloggers old and new) talking for 3-5 minutes about how and we they blog and a little bit of Q&A. So if I could have a few people volunteer for that, that’d be great or perhaps we should pick names out of a hat on the night.

As always, please RSVP here in the comments so we can ensure the venue is ready for the onslaught.

It’s also worth noting that mEatDrinkBlog is coming under the heading of the Fringe Food Festival and in the future the announcements will come on that site.

mEatDrinkBlog Melbourne #2

4 months is like 2 months right? So we probably missed an edition of mEatDrinkBlog, but in the spirit of better late than never, the next one is on the northside on July 14. Things will get started at 7:15 so get there a bit early and enjoy a beer or 2.

It’s at the Provincial and we are being hosted by a fellow who goes by the name of Paul Cooper. As far as food goes, we can order off the dining or bar menu or if there is enough interest Paul can create a special set menu for us. Let me know with your RSVP if you are interested in it.

As with the last meetup, RSVP in the comments and I’ll add you to the mailing list for future events.


As I didn’t quite make it to the last event (apologies everyone) I don’t really know how it went down. I’d love to hear feedback on how the format of that evening went and if you’d like me to do a crash course on Google Analytics, and if anyone else would like to present something or talk about something. It’s definitely something that is up for suggestion, change and input. If you’d like to speak next time, let me know in an email.

Who’s invited?

If you are a interested in food, wine, coffee or anything mildly related and you either have a blog, or tweet about it a lot. You are! Really, we aren’t fussy and if you are interested in coming along then you are more than welcome. There will be plenty of people to bounce ideas off, encourage you to start a blog or otherwise help out with any of the hairy technical or other problems. Come along! The more the merrier.

Count me in!

If you are going to attend, leave a comment in the comments here with your name and correct email address and we will keep you updated on any changes. Just be sure to let us know if you can’t make it so that we can get the numbers right for the venue.

Many thanks go to Tammi for picking up the reigns last time and Eatnik who helped pull this together.

The storm in my coffee cup – GRAM Magazine

Last Wednesday I received a phone call from Rob, the editor of GRAM Magazine wanting to discuss the publication of GRAM, my blogpost, and ongoing shitstorm. I had to feel for the guy. Their publication had been dragged through the mud kicking and screaming by the very people they had hoped would embrace it.

The reasons for this he told me were numerous: Poor communication; flawed assumptions; and a general failure to execute on their vision. But as the discussion continued I heard a general theme. The root cause of the mess was one thing. Cluelessness. They jumped into this without consulting anyone, telling people what was happening, using an opt-out policy rather than an opt-in and even then not letting everyone know they could opt-out.

I told him, that he should himself publish a blogpost. Tell people what they were trying to achieve, that they had missed the mark, and that they would attempt to improve the situation with the 3rd edition. I also agreed to meet him for a coffee and discuss plans for that edition.

An irrelevant photo of a coffee.The coffee (which he paid for) was good. Rob’s vision for the magazine is that it should more closely mirror people’s conversations about food and restaurants than the current mainstream media. He is acutely aware that they ballsed up the first attempts of this vision. To his credit, he’s not letting the negativity get him down and is forging ahead with an approach which provides a heap more value to the reader and the bloggers.

The core idea of the new magazine will be to pay bloggers for the right to republish whole existing posts – possibly with photos and create a magazine with repurposed content. To me it’s an obvious way of improving the magazine and getting the particular bloggers onside – of course it’s going to come across as trying to buy the love of the blogger’s scorned yet what other options are there

The mockups he showed me were great. Well designed and laid out. From a reader’s perspective I think it can really work. The 2d scanny codes are still there, and will link back to the specific article, the blog, or to some related links. The photos will exist, and depending on the layout will be either GRAM or blogger supplied (for $$$.)

I recommended the design focus more closely on the actual bloggers. I suggested leaving space for a small amount of text for a description of the blogger and perhaps a photo. This hopefully will let the reader learn who the actual people behind the words are and be more likely to go and check out the blog itself. I also recommended they use shortened URL next to the scan codes so that people don’t have to necessarily download the software.

I think the concept is great. Clearly it’s going to come across a little bit poorly after the rigmarole that has erupted but progress is progress. I’ve no doubt that the idea of buying/selling blogposts won’t go down well with certain parts of the community and that it ads a new dimension to the ethics involved but to some extent it is easier to handle. The posts will be sold after they have already been published and no content will be specifically commissioned. This leaves the blogger in a position where it is all off their own bat. They’ll be rewarded for posts that they have already and were always going to write.

Finally, he asked if I’d like to be paid for my content to be included in the next edition. My answer: send me the rates when you decide on them, and I’ll definitely consider it. Truthfully, I’ll be jumping at the chance to have my posts published in print. For my integrity’s sake, I’ll be donating the proceeds of the first few to StreetSmart. I think the money is nice, but the concept is great.

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?