Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The End of an Era

Since June 13th, 1985, the Wine Forum on CompuServe has been a neat corner of cyberspace where folks could meet, hang out, and gab about good wine, beer, spirits, coffee, food, and anything that came to mind.  I stumbled across it not long after Pam and I were married in 1993, and eventually ended up as one of their Section Leaders managing the Food and Beverages section where folks gabbed about good cooking and pairing food with beer, wine, or whatever.  For a number of years wrote an online column called “Jim’s Kitchen” where I explored pairing good food and wine.

Sadly, Jim Kronman, the forum’s founder and leader for the last 20 years, was just notified that AOL/Netscape is closing the forum come 3 November.  AOL, a clueless bunch of feckless, stupid idiots, bought out CompuServe somewhere back in ‘96 and promptly set about running CompuServe into the ground.  Yet another reason why AOL is the premiere case study in How Not To Run Things.  It’s another sad milestone that most all CompuServe communities, some of the first anywhere in cyberspace, have all been shut down by now.

The Wine Forum was instrumental in kicking off my interest in good food and wine.  I made several close, life-long friends there, and met folks who were incredibly generous with their knowledge, time, and yes, wine.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have tasted some amazing juice that I never would have had access to on my own.  Elliot Apter had us to a party where I had several different vintages of d’Yquem, a 1935 Graham’s Port, and some amazing Bordeaux.  Michael Straus had Pam and I over for a number of dinners, sharing his amazing cooking and some amazing gems from his cellar.  His passion about food, wine, and good coffee reinvigorated me, and his attitude toward things gave me the boost in confidence to be able to speak up about my preferences for various things, regardless of the opinions of others. Dave Sit held wine for us during our nomadic stint, cooked us great food, served us staggering wines, and steered us to some amazing restaurants in the DC area.  The list could go on for some time, but maybe you get the idea.

It’s too bad that such a neat corner of cyberspace is gone, but I suppose that’s just part of evolution.  It’s a sad day and I’m bummed, but it’s also a neat time to reflect on the many fine relationships and experiences I had through the forum.



Anonymous said...

CIS wineforum was, indeed, one of a kind. It succeeded as well as it did for so long because it had such diversity of talent. The section leaders were open-minded and never dictated based on their opinions; for unusual opinions, we had Jim Leff for his crazy, off-the-wall observations that were so often right on the mark; for the calm quiet of certainitude (??) we had Dave Sit, always right and never pushy about it - possibly the finest gentlemen I have ever met; in all, an openhanded, gracious bunch of people.

Other online wine forums of the time were populated by bozos with more money than taste and wine reps with an axe to grind... our community proved it could come together to share a common interest. If memory serves, the second winefest Wendy and I hosted (bring the kids and the dog, play in the pool, taste some amazing wine, eat BBQ, play music) had almost 120 people from the forum.

For me, the forum died in the mid to late 90's with the influx of some highly opinionated know-it-alls. I didn't have the patience for it any more. Sit, of course, did. Glad to see other people remember it as fondly as I do.


Jim Holmes said...

I'm assuming "EBA" == Elliot Apter, in which case I'm very happy to hear from you again!

You're right about the tipping point for the forum. Sadly, that influx of nasty folks punctured the forum's balloon. Too many members got tired of listening to those carpers, and too many forum staffers got tired of being thrown under the bus when trying to stand up to the jerks.

Oh well, the forum did great things for me otherwise and I'm happy I had as long a run there as did.

Hope you and your family are well!

Hubey Plummer said...

Hi Jim, was googling things and stumbled on this year and a half old message. It's sad that the forum is gone. I'm sad that I drifted away after my first kid was born, but it was a great bunch during its heyday.

Hope all is well.


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