No technical content in this blog post… sorry. Instead, I was inspired to write some thoughts, if you’ll bear with me. Fun stuff will be coming in future posts, I promise you.
”M” is for Memories
Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s there was a very active online forum at CompuServe called FoxForum. It was a place that people gathered to talk about FoxPro (just before it was renamed Visual FoxPro). People would post questions and others would answer them. It was a very civil and comfortable place where everyone respected each other. The “gurus” were very helpful and very patient in answering questions, no matter how elementary they might be.
I don’t remember anymore how I came to be a part of that forum… this was in the days before the Internet, and you connected to the forum with a 2400 baud dial-up modem… or maybe 9600 bits/second modem if you really splurged. All the reading of threads and replying was done off-line… you dialed up and downloaded new threads and messages and hung up. Then you’d read them and compose your responses and dial up and send them and hang up. And this was all done in a DOS character-based environment. Jeez, it sounds so primitive compared to today… like stone knives and bearskins.
The great thing about the FoxForum was not just the quality of the community, but the fact that you learned just as much as you contributed. And many of us really enjoyed contributing. I certainly did. It was fun… it was educational… and it was extremely gratifying to get an enthusiastic “Thank you so much!” response every now and then. We never expected any kind of gratitude, but it always made our day when we received it.
And then Microsoft introduced the MVP program in 1993 in order to express their gratitude for the contributions made by individuals at FoxForum and other locations. I received the MVP award for FoxPro in 1994, and it was a very exciting moment for me. That recognition by Microsoft for my contributions inspired me to keep the quality high and to contribute even more and in other ways.
”V” is for Vanish
I continued participating in the online forums and wrote articles for FoxPro magazines over the next several years. But my participation in online forums eventually waned by 1999, and I started spending more time playing the stock market and participating in forums talking about stocks than I did in hanging around the Visual FoxPro forums, and my MVP status ended in 2000.
My disappearance from the online FoxPro community was a mystery to many people… One person told me after-the-fact that he wondered if perhaps I had died. I still made my living with FoxPro, but my online interests were elsewhere during the first part of the century.
”P” is for Present-Day Parallel
A lot of things changed over the next several years. By the time 2009 rolled around, Visual FoxPro was a discontinued product, and the term “FoxForum” implied a place to voice your opinions with the likes of Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.
But not everything was different. Some things were strikingly similar…
In Feb/Mar 2009, I checked out the T-SQL Forum at MSDN, and the sense of community there reminded me a lot of the old FoxForum days. I was impressed by many people there who took the time to answer questions with a high level of quality… Aaron, Adam H., Alejandro, Arnie, Jon, Kent, Peso, Plamen, Rob, Tibor, and several others. It inspired me to contribute as well, and, just like the FoxForum days, I found I was learning just as much as I was contributing.
And now things have come full circle. On April 1st, I received the MVP award for SQL Server. And, like 16 years ago, it inspires me to continue to contribute to the community. I feel more honored for this award than ever, because, unlike 1994, this time I was nominated by my peers… people for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration. I look forward to continuing my contributions to the community… including the wacky blog posts that you read here.
This season of Easter symbolizes rebirth and a new beginning, and so, in light of that, I encourage you to start something new. I think everyone has something valuable to contribute. Next time you go to the forum to ask a question, check out some other message threads and chime in and make a contribution. Start a blog. Help organize a SQL Saturday event. I assure you it will be a very rewarding experience.