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robert brown

About Symposium

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Symposium: an open, moderated forum on gastronomy

The word "symposium" comes from the ancient Greek "drinking with friends". Preceded by dinner or a banquet, the symposium was an occasion when convives would discuss significant issues. Four thousand years later, eGullet is introducing a symposium of its own, about food and wine and any and all matters culinary and gastronomic.

We proposed Symposium as an experiment to the eGullet site administrators. We believe that some of the larger culinary topics of the day can best be explored through a more deliberate, structured, and actively moderated approach. Our hope is that a different style of discussion may attract new members and encourage current members to bring forth their most in-depth research and reflections.

This corner of eGullet is intended to complement the existing range of formats within the site, from the static content of the Webzine, to the dialog of Q&A sessions, to the more free-wheeling discussion on the boards at large. Symposium derives its uniqueness from careful development of topics, active moderation, and the use of a moderators' queue. Therefore, what you write may not appear immediately--see "Posting Guidelines" in the forum.

Symposium will not interfere with the spontaneous nature of the eGullet you are used to. Just because Symposium is intended for concentrated and serious discussion, we are not courting elitism. While we hope that Symposium will reflect the increasing role of culinary matters in academic debate, we want to appeal to everyone who has an abiding interest in gastronomy and all that it implies.

You can participate in Symposium by proposing topics; replying to topics with your knowledge, insights, or questions; and sharing some of what you have written or seeking opinions and information from eGullet members. We will work with you to ensure that starting threads are well structured, and to keep the discussion on topic. Over time we hope to broaden the experiment, for example with web panel discussions followed by questions "from the floor". In any event, Symposium will be judged by the members and site administrators once it has been under way for a few months. At that time, a decision will be taken as to whether or not to continue Symposium.

eGullet launches "Symposium" on January 3, 2003, with Robert (in New York) and Jonathan (in London) as moderators. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions.

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