If you haven’t noticed, I really like talking about beer. And of course, drinking it and making it too. They often go hand in hand.

I had a conversation with a colleague at work recently about social media, and we came to some conclusions on the differences between “traditional” blogging (as in what I’m doing this very second) and how people interact with other social utilities, like Twitter.

Now, I’m not a big Twitter guy, at least yet. I follow a few people, both in the beer community and professionally. I kind of liken it to the “What Are You Doing Now?” field in Facebook. On Twitter, people provide ongoing updates (in 140 characters or less) on what they’re doing or thinking at that exact moment. These are called “tweets”. And depending on who you’re following, some of them can be pretty insightful, funny, or thought provoking. Others are just random declarations, like “Joe is wondering why pre-heating an oven is necessary when you can just heat it” or “Amy had a bad tuna sandwich for lunch”.

The main difference I can see with Twitter is that over time, you’re potentially exposed to a more comprehensive picture of who that person really is. At least in tiny 140 character sound bites. Blogging, on the other hand, lends itself to a more “vertical” approach where you focus pretty exclusively on the very narrow topic at hand. In my case, my love of beer and homebrewing. Which begs the question, “does beer make up the entirety of who The Captain really is?”.

The answer of course is no. Believe it or not, it’s a fairly small subset of my life. One that I really enjoy and call my primary hobby, but relatively small nonetheless. I also spend between 8-10 hours of my day providing clients strategic PR counsel. I’m getting married in January in Mexico to my wonderful fiance. I play a Martin D-15 and was one of two members of the now defunct Dirty Sheets, local Twin Cities acoustic rock legends (at least in our minds). I’ve spent the past five years completely remodeling my house on my own. I believe that neither Republicans nor Democrats have it all figured out. And I love U of M Gopher hockey. Even that’s a pretty basic synopsis.

So why do I even provide this contemplative soliloquy on social media? I guess after reading Dave’s post on beer blogs he frequents, it got me reflecting on why I even take the time to do this in the first place. The whole premise behind all of it, no matter if it’s blogging, Twitter, wikis, IM, etc. is to foster collaboration, learning, and provide more meaningful connections. And I think this little blogging experiment of mine started a few months ago has helped me do that. I probably wouldn’t know much about cool bars in Manhattan without The Vice Blogger’s hilariously witty and engaging commentary on drinking culture in NYC. Or all the pros and cons on Stone beers out there thanks to The Drunken Polack. Or what’s going on in the local Twin Cities beer scene thanks to MNBeer.com and Brewhound Minneapolis. And I definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed several hard-to-find beers without interacting in the offline world with my beer friends to facilitate a couple trades now and again.

In the end, it’s been a pretty fun experience sharing this stuff with everyone. And I look forward to more tales of homebrew and craft beers for a while to come. Happy Halloween.