Thursday, February 16, 2006

On Community

I've been reading all the posts on various food blogs that have dealt with the food blogging community and I find that we are in an interesting place right now. I write this as someone who is pretty new at this (9 months) and as one not in the geographic center of a large food blogging community (Central NY is not the Bay Area in this regard--or several others, but I digress.) But I write as one whose "day job" is about forming and re-forming a community of people.

Obviously blogging has opened up a wonderfully, more interactive way of being in community that few internet folks would have envisioned a decade ago. I think one of the reasons it is so hard to pin down what it means for us to be in community (or shall we say "relationship") is that we are reinventing it in this forum called the blogosphere. Our notion of community is evolving--we are building the ship as we fly, as they say.

Like many other intentional communities we have a sense of purpose and identity as food bloggers but little else holds us together. We have few rules, laws, or norms that we have all signed on to. We only discover the boundaries of what is unacceptable when we trip upon them as the Food and Wine article discussion has shown. And yet, for the most part, we all get along just fine and more than that, find ever deepening relationships and a growing web of relationships as more join the circle.

So my point is--there is probably something that we can teach the world in how we hold together as a community connected across the globe. Think about it--we may be in touch with some bloggers through comments more often than members of our own families. My question is--what might that be?


drbiggles said...

What might what be? To offer something to the world?

I use blogging to escape the awful world we live in. I don't want to marry the two. If the world comes here, Meathenge goes down. The only time the world notices us is when they think they can make money off bloggers one way or the other. "The World" isn't smart enough to listen to common sense and reason. All you have to do is read any newspaper.
If I spoke, they would not listen.


Jennifer BB said...

Dr. Biggles,

Sorry for the poor paragraph construction--I meant, perhaps there was something others might be able to learn about the way we are in community. But I may be too naive--I think you're right--the world comes to look when they can get something useful. Hmmm. I don't know. I have found the food blogging community to be a pretty special group and I want to preserve that hope others catch on.

drbiggles said...

Hey Jennifer,

No, you hit it spot on. The food blogging community is very special.

Blogger (AOLesque) attempted to ruin it by flooding it with nitwits, but it turns out that even with blogger the quality and love shown through. I have no idea why there aren't marauding groups that ruin it for everyone. Personally I believe that food bloggers are one of the top most content groups on the Net.
There's no hate, ill or wars going on between sites. It's a love-in pure and simple.
Enjoy it while it's here, cause sister? It could be gone in a moment, just as it arrived.


paul said...

I'm afraid of your question-

"Is there something we can teach the world about holding together as a community connected across the globe?" (I'm paraphrasing.)

We blog about food. Food has always brought people together. As soon as it's not about the food anymore, we become like any other group.

The question pushes beyond the realms of food, photography, blog plumbing, and web building and into the realm of sociology, democracy and politics.

As soon as you try to define a community, (never mind setting lofty goals) the community expends all its energy defining leaders, heirarchy and rules.

One thing I think we can all agree on, it takes enough time just to blog about food.

Brett said...

I love you guys. Deep down what binds us all together is we're a group of curmudgeons that like to cook, eat, and then share our experiences. Deep down most of us don't seem to care what the rest of the world thinks. We're just a group of decent folk.

Barbara Fisher said...

I've been involved in virtual community for a long, long time.

And what I have seen happen in the food blog community is not much different from what I have seen in other virtual realms, but in general--I would agree that we seem to have fewer outbursts of anger, snark, hatred, flame-wars and the like.

I think part of it is that food is a communal subject anyway. Few people cook and eat alone. It just isn't how humans are. We tend to cook and eat as a group--even if that group is only two people.

I think that part of it is that most people who are passionate about food are also very generous people--I have never known anyone who truly loved food to be truly stingy.

What can we teach the "outer world?"

Nothing that they don't want to learn.

Remember, we are all part of that outer world, too. And what we are there, what we bring from within ourselves and give here--it goes out there, too. To see a separation between the rest of the world and the food blogging community is an illusion. They are both intimately connected.

Okay, I will stop or I will haul off and get Buddhist on people's butts.