Food Blogging as Wunderkammer

More than occasionally I wonder what is food blogging and how can it continue to differ (and differentiate itself) from other media. The late-90s chestnut of blogging being “all about community” has been all but superseded by real communities moving online. As much as I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, there’s 120 million other people whom think otherwise. Then this week I came upon, this article from Julian Dibbell:

A Web log really, then, is a Wunderkammer. That is to say, the genealogy of Web logs points not to the world of letters but to the early history of museums — to the “cabinet of wonders,” or Wunderkammer, that marked the scientific landscape of Renaissance modernity: a random collection of strange, compelling objects, typically compiled and owned by a learned, well-off gentleman. A set of ostrich feathers, a few rare shells, a South Pacific coral carving, a mummified mermaid — the Wunderkammer mingled fact and legend promiscuously, reflecting European civilization’s dazed and wondering attempts to assimilate the glut of physical data that science and exploration were then unleashing.

Just so, the Web log reflects our own attempts to assimilate the glut of immaterial data loosed upon us by the “discovery” of the networked world. And there are surely lessons for us in the parallel. For just as the cabinet of wonders took centuries to evolve into the more orderly, logically crystalline museum, so it may be a while before the chaos of the Web submits to any very tidy scheme of organization.

If you’re in most of the developed world, you’re bombarded with data about food: maybe food blogging is just an attempt to order it while staying in a state of constant amazement.