Gone for a while: time out for bloggers

July 2, 2010

Hurray, since today, folks, I am on holidays. I do not know when I will write the next blog entry. I will be in Europe for a while, traveling to Germany, Italy and France. I will catch up with old friends, indulge in good food, fine wine and superb culture.

I do not know what internet access we will have but bear with me and do not abandon me. I will write again and let you share my European experience. Cheers folks and thanks for visiting:

The Man from Mosel River

Blogging from a blogger’s desert

August 24, 2009


The conference banner outside the BICC

Another week without a blog entry from me. There is a simple explanation for it. I attended an international conference in Beijing, China, which was a great success also for the host, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science (CAAS).

But whereas blogging from rural Australia was just an infrastructural challenge, this time the great firewall of China prevented me from communicating and reaching my blogging platform: wordpress.com.

It prevented me also from accessing my facebook and twitter accounts and various other sites of interest, for instance the Open Wine Consortium (which uses a NING platform format). Needless to say that youtube was also down.

I am not a political blogger, just a wine and food enthusiast, and by training an agricultural economist which was the main reason why I attended the 27th International Conference of the Association of Agricultural Economists (16-22 August 2009) titled: “The new landscape of global agriculture”.


Experts on the dais

To say it from the outset, the conference was a full success. It was just great. I cannot but praise our Chinese host and the organizing committee as well as the Chinese agricultural organizations involved in its preparation and conduct.

The highest level of the Chinese government gave full support to the event and thereby to a field in public policy which had been largely neglected by the global financial institutions and many national governments alike during the last two decades. Vice premier Hui Lianyu, a native of Jilin province and a Chinese Muslim (Hui nationality), officially opened the event.

The great firewall of China, however, prevented me from publicly heaping praise on the Chinese government and the organizers, because I could not access the internet. Well, to be precise I could access some sites of the internet. We also had wlan-wifi connections during the duration of the event but the censorship exercised by the Chinese government did not allow for life reporting. A shame, good things could not enter the bloggosshere. There is a cost to such kind of censorship policy. China misses a chance to improve its public image.

Moreover, I wonder how many of the world’s top creative people would bother coming to a place where they are cut off from the world, their creative batteries, their inspiration and their audience for so long and from where the results of creative processes could not immediately find their way into the world wide web. This is another part of the costs incurred by the censorship policy.

We all know that the control of the internet by governments is a rat’s race. The whiz-kids, digital natives and techno freaks of this world, the Davids, to speak in biblical terms, are magically drawn to places like China in order to show and test their skills in beating Goliath: the Communist government. And therefore it is no surprise that there is ample support out there for trapped bloggers and others to circumvent the censors and jump over the great firewall of China by using proxy servers, and software designed to avert control. Alas, we are not alone in this tech-world of the 21st century.

Congratulations again to our Chinese partners for hosting such an important international event. May your government realize that it has more to gain than to fear from co-operation, sharing and the reciprocity through the inter connectivity of the world community and finally give up the censorship of the internet.

And then there is the saying of Mahatma Gandhi:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always triumphed. There have been tyrants and autocrats, and for a time they seem to be invincible but in the end they always fail.”

It’s better to change when there is time for it. The communist party of China has shown wisdom in the past when it came to points of no return, for instance when they tolerated that farmers dissolved communes on their own accord and without prior sanctioning of the party. Let us hope they can draw on this wisdom also when considering the censorship policy.

The mighty wine bloggers

June 10, 2008

Two Hills Vineyard: newly planted Chardonnay

Blogging is all in vogue these days. Millions of people write in their free time entries into their electronic diaries or online journals as they are called.

The founder of “Vinography” a reward winning wine blog, Alder Yarrow is the pioneer of wine blogging. His blog won various awards over the last years. In 2008 it received the American Wine Blog Awards for ‘best overall wine blog’ and ‘best writing’; in 2007 the same award was bestowed on him for ‘best wine reviews’. Vinography won accolades by the Salon des Vins de la Loire Wine Blog (2007) and Food Blogging Awards (2006, 2005, 2004).

Vinography is more than a private blog (www.vinography.com), it is a professional undertaking with various distinguished contributors. But apart from very interesting information about wine, wineries and vineyards, food and everything related to wine, Alder also collects blogs and he assembled a list of wine blogs, which you can find on his website. This list is of course not complete. An undertaking like this is never completed, there are always new people starting their blogs out there, and it is tedious to find them.

The list of about 600 or so odd blogs and wine podcasts is a very interesting piece of information.

There are about 65 winery blogs and 43 wine podcasts, some of them quite entertaining. The remainder are blogs in various languages. English is of course the most common language used by wine bloggers; the next most prominent is Italian followed by French. There are even wine bloggers writing in Japanese, Chinese and Indonesian.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that some of these bloggers are pretty organised and that they do things together. For instance the German wine blogger organise so called “wine rallys”, where they write about a common theme selected by the members and hosted by one of the bloggers where all pieces produced about this theme are collected, analyzed and propagated.

The Vinography list of wine blogs according to language goes as follows:

404 English
41 Italian
36 French
29 German
22 Spanish
11 Portuguese
5 Chinese
4 Dutch
2 Japanese
2 Hungarian
2 Norwegian
1 Indonesian
1 Slovak

There is a wealth of information to be found about wine, wine regions, wine-making, etc. Some of these blog are humble private tools for enjoyment and distraction, others are professional instruments for marketing, information, analysis, presentation and sale.

Check it out yourself and have fun. It’s worth it.