I’m not a foodie by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I find much about foodie culture to be pretentious, cumbersome and borderline offensive. But I’ll spare you that rant. However, I do find myself reading Daniel Berman’s FUSSYlittleBlog, if only because he can actually write and addresses things like community, sustainability, marketing, and other aspects of food culture beyond typical foodie blog fare (“look what I made/ate!”).

In the last three years, Daniel has embarked on a crusade to improve the results of the Times Union’s annual reader “Best Of” poll*. He calls it the FUSSYlittleBallot: a collection of nominees and write-ins for food categories. The idea is that it will improve upon the typical winners of the Times Union’s poll, which tend to be overrated establishments or, worse and more frequently, national chain restaurants.

Earlier today he posted a response to criticisms that the ballot may be superfluous due to the existence of sites like Yelp. As Daniel notes:

Yes, Yelp and Urbanspoon are out there to help those who know of those resources and trust them. However, that’s still overall a very small section of the population. And even while the local newspaper’s role in public life is diminishing, it still reaches the largest percentage of those who live here. Plus it continues to be an authoritative voice in the community.

In other words (mine, not his), anybody who thinks the TU’s “Best Of” poll doesn’t matter because of Yelp can’t see past their own bubble.

It’s far from rare. To an extent, most of us live in a bubble. Our associations and communications are selective, often despite our best intentions. The internet, with its ability to unfriend, unfollow, and/or block out any information that perturbs or does not interest us, only exacerbates that.

But if we’re conscious and aware of it, the bubble is permeable. Unfortunately, the local arts and culture scenes don’t make enough of an effort or simply don’t know how.  I saw it in local theater, I see it in local online communities, and I even see it now in the comedy scene.

Whether you’re trying to get people to make better dining choices or trying to get them to come to your show, it’s important to get beyond the bubble. Otherwise, you’re going to be preaching to a choir that’s slowly but surely shrinking in size and enthusiasm (using  a cliche that invokes the Catholic Church in this example is no accident).

So if you’re really and truly interested in improving any and all aspects of our local culture, it behooves you to make the effort to get past your own bubble.

* This year’s “Best of the Capital Region” poll from the Times Union is particularly distressing in its ineptness. One of the nominees for “Best Local Concert” was for a Kings of Leon show at SPAC that never happened. “Best Local Tweeter,” a laughably inane category if there ever was one, nominated a person who moved to Chicago over a year ago. Most distressing, though, is the category of “Best Local Journalist,” which snubbed both Jordan Carleo-Evangelist and Jimmy Vielkind, who are the two consistently best and hardest working journalists under their employ. Nominated in their stead? Food critics and fashion bloggers. Shameful.

2 Responses to Bursting the Bubble

  1. eric z says:

    I just hope that with all the attention he pays to the food portion of the ballot, that he doesn’t just turn around and vote for Lowe’s and Jiffy Lube and Fly 92.3.

  2. ned says:

    But…but…I love my bubble…and I hope that Olive Garden wins as best Italian Restaurant (again).

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