The revolution brought about by the Internet is certainly profound and while Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg deserve a lot of credit and the money their stock options bring, in some ways I think bloggers like the Wonkette and David Lebovitz are more interesting examples of what’s happening.
In my alternate, or parallel, or day life, I write and edit for straight, traditional, print outlets and they all, like America’s newspapers, are steadily headed for the toilet as alternate sources of information appear on the web. In the food world, bloggers, like Rodney Dangerfield, get little respect in some quarters, while the print guys, whom I dismiss as the “Big Boys,” still are riding high.
But I think that’s changing. Let me give some examples why.
A couple of weeks ago, three of us ate at the pretty new place in Paris and I wrote that the food was all the same temperature – lukewarm – whether eggs, or fish or fowl – and suggested that some stuff deserved some time under the hot lights before being served. A week later a colleague/blogger went and reported that everything was hot. Was it my complaint, was it his different experience, was it chance? Who knows?
Then shortly after that we were eating at a fancy place in a posh hotel and the wait between courses was insufferable, indeed insupportable – and I said so in my blog. Within hours, the manager had called me to apologize and wanted to make up for it.
Another time, the famous-chef-father of a novice-chef-son wrote (after I’d posted a negative review) and offered to cook a reparative meal himself if I’d come back. P.S. I didn’t.
Then there was a food fight on a food website into which I stepped and tried to calm the waters, spelling out what the restaurant did right so much of the time. P.S. The chef never fails to come over to chat and his webmaster makes sure we get a coupe (always declared) at each visit.
After a positive review, another well-known chef came out and knelt by my chair and said “You never told me you were a blogger, thank you so much.” A light went on; even these famous guys Google themselves every night. (For years I’ve been telling my faculty, residents and grandkids, don’t put anything in writing anywhere you don’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times tomorrow, now, even I believe it.)
Now there’s a counter-argument I’m well aware of. Yelpers, TripAdvisoristes, etc., get to complain, often about silly stuff, sometimes anonymously, with no chance of rebuttal. Others pile on once one person moans or whines. And it’s much easier to complain than to praise.
But I think the internet is rather like they taught us about the jungle in Viet Nam – it’s neither hostile nor friendly, it’s what you make of it.
One thing’s for certain, the game is changing very rapidly. The days of Craig Claiborne, Francois Simon and La Reynière/Courtine are dwindling and like it or not, the times they are a changing.
Final point – the Metropolitan Museum of Art had a show on photographs of Fontainebleau and I wanted to get permission to show one of them on my blog. So I found the website and filled out the form and under role said Blogger. By George, they shot back immediate permission to use any one of a hundred. The Metropolitan and a blogger! Interesting eh?