The AI-GEOSTATS forum is now more than 15 years old, a very respectable age considering that age of the Internet and the average lifetime of web pages.
AI-GEOSTATS was called after Arc/Info (which explains the "AI" in AI-GEOSTATS), a widely distributed GIS, and geostatistics. The choice of the name is purely historical: as a young Ph.D. student in radioecology, I was looking for information on basic tools developed for the statistical analysis of spatial data and realised not only that the tools proposed in the environmental sciences were elementary, but also that more advanced tools were working like black boxes. Basically, most GIS provided their users with a magic button "create map" and that was all the users asked for at that time, not being aware of the fact that many methods were existing. The question on "what interpolation method between the many available in the literature should I use?" became almost an obsession and I ended up doing a Ph.D. in the field. There was such a high interest about this topic (many Arc/Info users were indeed curious about the strange terms of kriging and variograms) that I created my own "cluster" within ESRI's user group. I was putting the words AI-GEOSTATS in the headers of my mails to attract more attention. Becoming quickly too invasive, I was recommended to start a brand new mailing list.
My lack of experience at that time in using the tools developed for the Internet (majordomo, listserv, etc.) was a problem in setting up a new mailing list. This lack was quickly compensated by the technical support offered by a mysterious chap from the Penn State University, called Jeff Wolfe, who proposed to help me to set up a new mailing list. Jeff, in a few hours, installed a majordomo mailing server and I became the moderator of a new mailing list called AI-GEOSTATS. This was on the 26 of April 1995. After having provided day and night a constant technical support to the mailing list (subscription, distribution of mails, fixing bugs, etc.), Jeff got another job and I moved the mailing list during the Autumn 2000 to the Institute of Mineralogy and Petrography of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland where it remained until 2006. The list and web site move back where it all started, in Ispra (Italy), at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Because of a change in my professional activities where geostatistics are not playing a key role anymore, I passed on in 2009 the AI-GEOSTATS web site I couldn't further maintain to my old friend Edzer Pebesma, author of the popular Gstat and now a professor in Muenster, Germany.
The mailing list reached iun 2005 a peak of more than 1000 subcribers coming from around 100 different countries and was considered to be the the main reference on the Internet for what concerns the above mentioned topics. Education, training, tools have evolved very much in the field since the beginning of ai-geostats and you will still find today around 300 subscribers to the list. In all these years, the use of the mailing list was completely free, open to anyone, and completely independent from commercial interests. I hope this will remain so.
Gregoire Dubois, Ispra, September 2011
Acknowledgements: Million thanks to all those who helped maintining the services and web sites these last 15 years, in particular Jeff Wolfe, Nicolas Gilardi, Dominique Rey, Patrick Petit and Theresia Freska Utami for all their hard work
AI-GEOSTATS in 1997
AI-GEOSTATS in 1999
AI-GEOSTATS in 2002
AI-GEOSTATS in 2005
AI-GEOSTATS in 2006