I want to present at SXSW in Austin next year on the topic of non-verbal wine communication. I think there’s a great deal to be said about visual storytelling, infographics, and non verbal ways of describing certain subjects (especially inherently sensory experiences like food and wine).
As I researched my first few posts about the words we use to describe wine, I worried that my topic was too weird and esoteric. But SXSW has just revealed the full list of 3,266 panel proposals and an astounding number are about similar topics of non-verbal communication!
So I’ve rounded up some panels that look very interesting and talk about a similar topic of post-verbal or non-verbal data. I hope to get in touch with all these presenters eventually because I think we have a lot to discuss.
Live Visual Blogging – Realtime Social Drawing
A presentation about live visual annotation of lectures/speeches/etc. One can also imagine this being applied to wine tastings and tutored tastings? Imagine live tasting notes being drawn by the audience as they learn about wines of Languedoc and our sunshine, winds and mountains. The final result could be more interesting than any list of words!
Culture, Crowdsourcing & Creating New Wine Words
This is crazy. Another wine guy actually proposed a panel about semantics and language just like I did! This group in South Africa has banned a list of the silliest words that turn up in tasting notes and is crowdsourcing wine reviews to develop a new language to describe wine. Pretty cool idea.
The Power of Visual Storytelling
This is probably the most straightforward panel. A group of content creators talking about individual cases of creating visual content.
Text.Snap.Capture.Record : Create with Mobile
Cell phones are reshaping how people think about content creation. Oftentimes, a quick snap or video recording on the fly made at the moment will be more important than a well-written article that takes hours and hours of research and editing.
Visualize This! Data and the Future of Research
A more academic look at how visualization can affect research and data sharing amongst professionals.
Shut up & DRAW! A Non-Artist Way to Think Visually
It’s great that everybody’s excited about visual presentation, unless you suck at art. This panel will offer ways for non-artists to employ visualization techniques.
Data Visualization for Social Change
Can data visualization be refined to help change minds and create social change? Examples of current visualization strategies include abortion statistics and unintended pregnancy infographics
Beyond Chart Porn: Data Vis for Action
This duo is worried that visual data presentation is so sexy and slick that people are overusing it. The panel will look at ways to keep data visualization meaningful.
Lend Me Your Earballs: Sound + Interaction Design
This panel aims to look at audio design. It’s true that we’re veeery visual. And we tend to hate any kind of audio in webdesign. So is there a future for well-crafted audio?
Maps of Time: Big Data as Narrative
An interesting and ambitious panel that wants to visualize data over time and “change the way we do data visualization forever”. I’ve often considered writing a blog aggregator for winemakers that just scrapes all of our photos and posts them on a timeline. And maybe then doing a sort by hue if photos land on the same date. I expect this would create a sort of wave that moves from green to red/brown over the course of the calendar year (assuming we stick to all northern hemisphere or all southern hemisphere vineyards).
Visualizing Social Media for Educational Use
This presentation proposal seems a bit vague at first, promising to deliver social media tools that educators can use to assist visual learning. The powerpoint attached has a lot more detail, including a list of simple tools like wordle, many eyes, twitterfall, and so on. Potentially an interesting topic.
Data is Sexier than Sex… And I’ll Prove It
I wanted to mention this for the title alone.
I want to share another trend in wine journalism that has piqued my curiosity: nonverbal wine reviews. Talking about wine without words. If you think any of the following are cool, please review my wines without words! Or review some of your favorite wines nonverbally. You don’t even need a blog since you can use sites like Petrogasm to post your own wordless reviews.
The prime example that has me thinking about this all the time is Chateau Petrograsm, a blog where anybody can register and review a wine by posting a picture. You don’t get to explain why the photo is representative of the wine. “Readers” must use their imaginations to connect the dots between the picture and the wine being reviewed.
Sometimes, it’s fairly obvious. A picture of crisp golden apples because the wine reminded the reviewer of crisp golden apples. Other times, it’s less obvious. People will sometimes pick a celebrity whose character matches the wine. Or they’ll pick a landscape that is very complicated and almost as nuanced as the wine itself. Here, a new user characterizes a wine from La Negly with a dark and brooding coastline. These reviews are often less judgmental and nitpicky than verbal reviews.
I used this photo to the left for a wine I tasted once. I don’t want to explain my choice because I think that ruins the fun and gets unnecessarily intellectual. But suffice it to say that a photo like this can give multiple and almost conflicting images at the same time. And that’s how taste works sometimes.
By getting away from words and going back to a more symbolic review of wine, we free ourselves from the tyranny of language and expectations!
I just really love the concept and I think it reminds us that some pictures are worth far more than 1,000 words.
I very frequently feel like I’m at a total loss for words when talking about wine in a foreign language. And hell, even in my native language, a wine can have so many apparently opposite traits at the same time! It’s hard to talk about it naturally. The reason I rely so much on video in my wine reviews at Love That Languedoc is because I think you can easily convey a ton of information through body language and spastic hand gestures. Sometimes, it would take far longer to convey the same information in words.
And I’m not alone. Right, Gary?
Gary Vaynerchuk is a guy who talks with his whole body when he reviews a wine. And it’s great. Because he can deliver a lot of surprisingly nuanced descriptions with a little nudge of his shoulder or by throwing his hands up in the air as he talks about different layers of a wine.
And occasionally you can spawn catch phrases that go along with a little body language and then you make tshirts and the whole nine yards. Oak Monster!
Music and Wine
I’ve also seen a few efforts to pair music and wine. Some of these music and wine pairing attempts actually do get very wordy. I know I commented on a blog the other day that did this with much less pretense, but I can’t find it!! The author would just post the title of a song at the top of the wine review. And it begs the question, does he think the wine is like that song or that the wine pairs with that song? After all, some people swear that a wine’s quality can change drastically based on what music you listen to.
And it might be interesting to see if there’s a site that tries to actually embed audio so that it can truly be nonverbal. BottleDJ is a blogger who tries to pair music and wine to interesting effects.
We were actually talking about a similar concept at VinoCamp Paris. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a website like last.fm that looked at your musical tastes and predicted what kind of wines you’d enjoy? I wonder how effective it would be!
What music does O’Vineyards go with or what songs does it remind you of?! TELL ME.