I signed on in the fall of 1999, as I recall. After all these years, I still want to throttle the crooks who ran off with the machine they were using to host the forums, and with all the backups. They came as close as anyone has to shattering this community. (In case anyone was still wondering, that was the actual cause of the Great Blackout: A crooked service provider who didn't pay for bandwidth, then absconded with the machinery.)
Mark still drops by the Moderators forum once in a while, and I occasionally catch a glimpse of robo in the users list. Goatie dropped away, Belle just... vanished
, Kate went to MacNN, Solishu and a few others went to Ars Technica. The creation of the Mac Ach took away a few of our regulars. We lost a few more to AppleNova. In the grand scheme of things, this is fine: I'd rather have people be where they're happier. But it has meant that AI has evolved considerably. Also, it's a much larger forum than it used to be, and that invariably changes the tone and the nature of the board.
Also, I think, the food for discussion changed. Back when there was a bigger presence of PC skeptics, we were still running Mac OS 9, and looking nervously at Yet Another Next Generation OS effort from Apple, which was already morphing rapidly and being delayed and renamed and everything else that didn't look good. And let's face it: The technological landscape then made for more interesting arguments, not least because Apple was still proving itself, but also because OS 9's flaws were as great as its advantages, which made arguing for it rather interesting (and I'm not using that word sarcastically). Speculation used to be fueled by the still-open question of whether Apple would survive at all, and whether Jobs had learned from his old mistakes. The recent Perfect Storm of Windows exploits, combined with the abrupt end of the GHz race, the transition to 64-bit, and the sudden acceleration of Apple's fortunes, has changed the nature of things rather quickly: Speculation is really a search for solutions to problems, and the more bulletproof your platform becomes, the harder speculation becomes. Think about it: We used to hope for an OS that didn't crash all the time, where the whole interface didn't freeze if we lingered on a menu. Now, some of us want an increase in OpenGL performance, or a better word processor. Steve's leak-plugging efforts have taken their toll as well. The whole Mac-vs.-PC argument has changed drastically since PeterB was a regular here, as well.
And I remember when pscates
threw in the towel as a mockup illustrator, reasoning that Jon Ives had gotten so good that there wasn't much point in trying. That was a blow. I love mockups.
Anyway, I've rambled enough to deprive Matsu
's flattering description of my efforts of any credibility whatsoever, so I'll stop now. But I've enjoyed the trip down memory lane.