Saturday, June 17, 2006

Wine, information rent, and web2.0

alder at Vinography has a post up on all these new so called web2.0 wine sites and why they will fail. I agree with him in general, but I couldn’t disagree more in his analysis. The reason is none of those sites are what I would call web2.0 sites. The definition is sort of loose, but after briefly looking at all four of the sites listed they are web 1.0 sites with a couple 2.0 features tossed in the result is a mess.

I should at least define web2.0 as best I can. After the crash, people began to realize what the web really was. Information is costly. Information can be transferred, but it also deteriorates very fast. Entire cities have been born out of nothing other information rents (Singapore and New York come to mind). The hyper specific sites of the 90’s all failed because it was impossible to actually have any of that information be of any use, Take Dr., and the list goes on.

What web 2.0 does it takes information and it drives down the cost of that information. Craig’s list is a good example. Craig’s list only works because both parties have full information and it works like a real time auction because of it. This is good for everyone. Auctions tend to make economists happy.

Another couple examples are and mybloglog. Some might say Digg would be another, but I am not so certain. I think that site (digg) is too specific and it does very little for the user. You see, I like because it allows me to organize my posts via tags. I get the added benefit of social bookmarking. Even if I was the only user of delicious I would still use it just for the tags. The same is true with mybloglog. It has an upgrade service which is great for people who have a lot of traffic. It is great for me as the writer because I can see who is clicking on what and I can refine my content. It is great for the users because the other users can see who is clicking on what. All of these cut down the cost of information to the user and to me. This is a good thing.

All of those wine sites that I looked at don’t actually do that. They do organize and they do compile but they don’t lower the cost of information to the every day user, which is where the crux is.

Most of his criticism revolves around the paradigm of writing complicated and detailed tasting notes and I think that is great for magazines, books, blogs, and clubs. I do not think any kind of well written tasting note could ever work because it is too difficult to organize. Another pet peeve of mine is number systems, but I will not belabor that point.

A good social winetasting system could work if it was designed to be simple, effective, and functional.

I would envision a site to work much like crossed with Digg. You would store wines that you have tried. The browser (using some easy to code java) would ask broad questions about the wine first IE red or white to country of origin, and all the way down to the most specific question for that wine, vintage. You would then store a bunch of adjectives as tags about the wine. For example: Sucks, Loved it, fruity, nuty, bold. That’s it. That simple.

People would store their wines online because wine diaries are a pain in the arse. I almost never use one, but I would use a system like the above. Other users would have the benefit of seeing my “tags” and could make a loose decision off of that. Or they could see all of the tags, or most commonly used tags for that specific wine. Web2.0 is there to help people make decisions, unlike web1.0 which was there to make decisions for you, which is what most of those sites seem to be doing.