The world of Texas barbecue is vast, populated with thousands of barbecue enterprises big and small - from venerable temples of 'cue that command national attention to unsung mom-and-pop joints that are known only to townies. [...] it's this enormous breadth of smoky landscape that the passionate disciples of Texas barbecue endeavor to chronicle. [...] they're the ones tweeting enthusiasm, posting pictures on Facebook, checking in on foursquare and blogging about their meals, all in the name of spreading their burnt-ends-fueled barbecue love. Vaughn is among a growing group of barbecue fans who are traversing the state to discover, document and promote Texas barbecue culture. Using the tools of social media, whether casually or with great purpose, they are enlarging the public discourse on Texas barbecue. "People talking about barbecue is a good thing," said Drew Thornley, a UT business law professor whose blog ManUpTexasBBQ is aiming to make itself a comprehensive forum for Texas barbecue information. What I'm hearing in conversations I've had with people who have lived here for a long time is they're experiencing a huge Texas barbecue renaissance. Thornley says that dedicated blogs and a growing number of barbecue-loving social media users are ramping up the profile of the state's most iconic food. Thornley plans to write soon about hidden gems of Central Texas, which he said includes Opie's Barbecue of Spicewood, Milt's Pit BBQ in Kyle, Johnny's Steaks & Bar-Be-Que in Salado and Gonzales Food Market in Gonzales (known for its lamb ribs). To J.C. Reid, a Houston food writer and barbecue enthusiast, the term "nerd" suggests the overly aggressive side of barbecue passion - the critical know-it-alls who unmercifully scrutinize barbecue and demand perfection. [...] in October he launched the Houston Barbecue Project (HouBBQ.com) with the intent to shine the light on lesser-known Houston barbecue joints. The power and profile of the barbecue geek has never been higher, suggests Aaron Franklin, owner of the highly praised Franklin Barbecue, who Texas Monthly dubbed "the master" in a February cover story on barbecue. [...] the work of those nerds who recognized the genius of his barbecue helped put him on the map, he admits. "The barbecue nerds and geeks have probably enjoyed barbecue most of their lives but came to the realization, by eating at these places, that it can be so much better," he said.