One night last October, as Luke Mazur downed pumpkin ales in Coles with brother-in-law Eric Montz, Montz was fiddling with his phone, as some twentysomethings are wont to do.
Mazur recently got a law degree but has leaned toward freelance writing. Montz helps develop maps with Fisher Associates. But they both love beer, and a conversation about beer and the Internet led to the germ of an idea: Brewtrakr.com.
"Basically, we're aiming to foster an online community around drinking," Mazur said. Using Twitter, the social media application that lets users "tweet" 140-character sentences onto the Internet and comb through the tweets of others, the Brewtrakr founders hope to make talking about your favorite beer as much fun online as it is in a bar.
The Brewtrakr.com website, to launch this week, will encourage Twitter users to tell the world what they're drinking. Anyone can join in the conversation by including "#brewtrakr," a searchable "hash tag," in their tweets.
"At once, tweeting appeals to both the [very short form] writer and the [reading] voyeur in all of us," said Mazur.
>So you think people want to know what you're drinking?
"The joke about Twitter is, 'Why do I want to know what people are having for lunch?' Point taken. Why do I want to know what Person X, who I don't know, had for lunch?
But if you start using Twitter, and you start following a bunch of people, you discover their personalities, kind of ambiently. They tweet a news article about X, they're picking up their kids from Y school. They're telling a story of themselves, 140 characters at a time."
>So Brewtrakr hopes to organize conversations people are already having.
"Right now the conversation on Twitter is unorganized. It can be fascinating at any one point, to see at any one second what people are buzzing about, but it's not organized. With Brewtrakr hopefully we can get people buzzing about what they're drinking, which is kind of fun content anyway."
>People really care?
"[Facebook founder Mark] Zuckerberg said Facebook and social sites are banking on the fact that people find information generated by people they know more useful than a general Google search. We could Google 'Sierra Nevada Celebration,' but that's not as valuable as what people we know are saying about it."
>Do drinking and posting on the Internet really go hand in hand?
"A lot of people are on their phones at the bar anyhow, texting or playing games. Is it too much to bring the Internet into the bar, where we're kind of going to be away from the day-to-day?
That [suggests] a duality that doesn't exist any more, that there's an Internet world and a non-Internet world. With Web 2.0 and mobile, we're kind of tuned in all the time. Maybe that [stinks], and that's a whole other conversation, but it's more and more becoming a fact of life."