Friday, October 15, 2010

The Dark Ages of Third Wave

Once upon a time, forums were the means for open debate.

A buddy and I were discussing the coffee community the other day and how, if this is truly the "Third Wave" of coffee then we're certainly in that wave's Dark Ages.

Perhaps it's been a reflection of our nation's psyche but within this community, what was once open discourse has now turned to self-gratification and a growing sense of close mindedness. From around the time that I entered the community (about 2003) until 2007 there was a strong sense of community and discussion. Forums existed on the internet where coffee people could banter back and forth on different theories and really get into the mix.

All of this started changing around 2007-2008 when those who had once been simply the newbies to the industry started making their bones. A new leadership within the industry emerged under the flag of change and transparency, wrestling control away from the cronyism of the old guard. As time would bear out, this "new guard" would only differ in that they waved the flag of transparency and change. However, very little would actually change and much of that opacity would remain the same.

At the same time, the forums of old started losing their cache when the administrators showed their draconian ways and censoring the open discussion that was central to the community.

It's been all downhill from there.

Today, the "Third Wave" exists in a sense of darkness. Where there was once a community that discussed the issues and challenged each other, we now have a community that's comprised mainly of self-congratulatory posts and emanations through individual blogs or twitter tweets.

As a new generation of coffee professionals enter our ranks, they're left with people held to "God-like" stature - people who've developed an aura that they should never be questioned because they're, essentially, Gods of Coffee. There no longer exists that forum where those gods would be questioned and challenged. Now they simply issue their dictates from upon high, whether on top of their blogs or from the chair of coffee organizations.

Dark Ages, indeed.