On the one-year anniversary of Aleheads, I’d like to give thanks to everyone who has helped make this site what it is…
I’ve never been particularly engaged with this “thing” we call the Internet. It is clearly the most important and transformative invention of my lifetime. It has made the world smaller, fomented revolution, disseminated information, and connected and divided people in ways never before achieved by any medium. But I’ve always kept it at arm’s length to a degree. I’ve always been a little dubious and a little skeptical at the engulfing nature of the web. The way it seems to take over lives and put everyone on display. Frankly, it can be a little frightening.
Oh, I’m no Luddite. Quite the opposite. I love new technology and was dialing into bulletin boards and AOL before most of my peers. I’ve got a Facebook page like everyone else (though I’ll admit I check it maybe once a month at most). My e-mail addresses number in the double-digits. I worship Wikipedia despite it’s myriad faults. And I have about a dozen websites I check almost daily.
But despite my connections to the cloud, I was very, very late to the world of social networking. It’s not that it didn’t interest me…I just felt that I had missed the on-ramp for this new idea and it was best to stay on the highway until the next innovation popped up. While many of my friends embraced it and started blogs and on-line diaries, I didn’t. While almost all of my friends kept up-to-date MySpace and Facebook pages, I made a token effort at best and then forgot about it. I understood the appeal in theory, but I’ve always hated being a bandwagon-jumper so I just ignored what was clearly becoming the biggest and arguably most important trend of the new millennium. People who had never had voices before now had a forum…a soapbox from which to preach. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be the last person to set up a Facebook page (though I essentially was) and I certainly didn’t want to be the last guy to start a blog when everything had already been said. So I eschewed social networking for the most part and went on with my life.
Two things changed my mind last year. First, Slouch Sixpack started a soccer blog. Everything about that last sentence surprised me when it happened. I had no idea he was even remotely interested in blogging or connecting on-line (though I’ve since discovered that he’s more tuned into the power and importance of social networking than anyone I know). I also had no idea he was interested in soccer nor that he could write enough about that topic to maintain an actual blog (to be fair, he couldn’t…the idea died in a matter of weeks). But most importantly, I saw perhaps my laziest friend…a man who thinks up 1,000 great ideas a day and never endeavors to achieve any of them…actually get a good-looking, well-written, interesting blog off the ground. That he didn’t maintain it is mostly a function of the fact that he picked a bad topic. There’s nothing wrong with soccer per se, but Slouch is a newbie in the world of the beautiful sport and his community of peers (such as myself) didn’t know or care enough about the topic to give him the support he needed to maintain the blog. I tried a little bit…I even wrote a long piece about the Stoke City team in the EPL for his site. That experience was incredibly fun for me…I loved chatting with Slouch about the site and the way he was using it to help spur on his nascent interest in soccer. I also loved how easy it was. I drafted an article, sent it to Slouch, and a few minutes later it was on-line. Perhaps blogging was easier than I realized. If even Slouch could develop a nice-looking and functional site, then anyone could!
That was about as far as my interest in blogging went for a time…until the second thing happened. During a routine beer e-mail chain between Doc, the Baron and myself, Sudsy mentioned the fact that his father, the Viscount, suggested that our little triumvirate should start a beer blog. I should explain that the three of us had been sending insanely detailed beer e-mail chains to each other for years. We would discuss new beer conquests and our top brews and breweries. It was our favorite topic of conversation and we even started planning annual trips to get together and drink (our first such trek was to Chicago and it introduced me to Three Floyds and Goose Island…two of my favorite ale factories today). But that e-mail from Sudsy got the wheels churning. I had just spent a few fun weeks earlier in the year learning the basics of blogging on Slouch’s soccer site. When the Baron brought up the idea, a light bulb went off. I realized that A) I could do this, and B) Unlike Slouch’s blog, we would NEVER run out of things to write about on a beer blog. I can talk about beer for days on end. I love beer and have ever since I first got a sip of a true craft brew. More importantly, I had a community of friends who felt the same way. I knew Sudsy and Doc would participate, but a month or so after we started the site, Slouch jumped on board. Then Magnus. Then the Professor, the Commander, Lord Copperpot, Herr Hordeum, etc. It kept snowballing. Beyond that, our traffic kept rising. The first DAY of February this year more than doubled our traffic for the ENTIRE MONTH of February last year! While we’re hardly a big site in the grand scheme of things, I can honestly say that Aleheads has been far more successful than I ever thought it would be. I’ve loved connecting with my friends and meeting new people through the site. I may have been late to the party, but I’m so glad I finally showed up. It’s been one of the best collaborations I’ve ever been a part of and, a year later, it’s more fun than ever.*
*Also, it gives me an excuse to drink a lot…“That’s your tenth beer of the night!”…“It’s research, dammit!”.
So thanks to Slouch for making me realize that blogging was, in fact, easy. Thanks to the Baron and Doc for founding this site with me and for helping to turn our little hobby into something so much bigger. Thanks to the rest of the Aleheads for joining in our chorus of voices and allowing us to truly sing. Thanks to Wifey for putting up with this bullshit and for becoming a true Alehead herself (and honestly, a much better beer taster than me). But thanks most of all to everyone who reads the site. Whether you read it religiously or have only dropped by once, we appreciate you. We know we don’t always live up to our end of the bargain. Our posts aren’t always well researched or written. We screw up facts constantly and we’re generally talking out of our collective asses. But the relationship between us and you has been the best part of writing for Aleheads. We hope that Year Two brings even more of you into the fold and that we continue to keep our regular readers engaged. It’s been a fun ride so far and I hope you’re all willing to stay on board.
Thank you and Cheers, Salud, L’chaim, Prost, A votre sante, Na zdorovje, Gan bei, and…