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inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #26 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:07
    

  The writer herself slipped in!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #27 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:12
    

  BTW, the book discussion that I'm thinking of happened in the Archives
conference, in topic #290.  There may have been others I don't know about.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #28 of 379: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:14
    
Hey, Katie, I want to know if you've got a film deal yet for "The
WELL: The Movie." I'm envisioning all those folks onscreen, typing
away... <chuckle>.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #29 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:17
    
I think we're all the same way about things we've been involved with
deeply in our lives, Katie. I use past tense about anything I'm not
currently engaged in, partly because I don't known how things ARE with
those people I hung out with years ago or that project I did in the
past. No, they're not dead. But they're apart from me.

And as to your book not being a promo piece for the vital, living,
current WELL, you can't have it both ways...be current in the media as
a "happening thing" and also keep out the riff-raff. Er, I mean
preserve the mystique and exclusive feeling of the WELL. I don't see
that as a snobby attitude at all - at least not for most members.
Insularity is cozy. It's the familiarity and intellectual stimulation
and, after all these years, the tradition and longevity of its social
core that makes people feel protective of it. 

I think your book, Katie, does good by many of the WELL's members in
that it gives the community credit for its pioneering achievements and
strengths while pointing out some of the tradeoffs of holding such
relatively high standards and expressing real opinions. 

Trying to be as objective a reader as I can, it seems to me that the
WELL comes out looking like a fascinating and sort of heroic place, but
definitely not an online Utopia or the kind of community where
everyone would want to hang out.

Back to Mandel for a minute (see? Tom just will not be denied) one
thing that was not mentioned in the book was the fact that the behavior
that got his account suspended took place in the two weeks following
the October 17 Loma Prieta earthquake, during a time when we were -
most of the Bay Area anyway - tripping our brains out through the
aftershocks. It was an extremely emotional period. The fucking earth
had moved! People had died. Houses had been destroyed. The Bay Bridge
had a hole in it. Stewart had pulled someone from a collapsing
building.

And Tom, our brutally frank rock of objectivity had gone over the
edge. 
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #30 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:19
    
well, <rab>, y'know what Monty Python said about the Spanish
Inquisition ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #31 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:22
    

Film? No offers yet. You'd have to get awfully creative w/the
camera....

Cliff, thanks. You're such a bedrock of reason.
And yes, I should certainly have mentioned the earthquake. I forget
why I didn't. I know I knew about the timing of events. Chalk that one
up to sloppiness? Laziness?

 
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #32 of 379: the invetned stiff is dumb (bbraasch) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:27
    
The WeLL Movie, we'd need to bring back Andy Warhol to make it.  I took
a friend from England to one of the WOPs at Presidio Yacht club.  A
couple people were sitting talking near the fire.  Some kids were
shooting pool.  Some other people were showing slides from old
vacations.

All that belongs in this movie.  

Then again, <nana> did jump out of that cake at one party.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #33 of 379: Mike Gunderloy (ffmike123) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:36
    
<24>: "As I've said in the past, I've been *on* the Well for a long
time, but never *of* the Well (an interesting and, I think, important,
distinction)."

I wonder about that distinction. You seem to be drawing a hard line
between a core group of participatory people who define the Well (I
know, I'm putting words in your mouth; feel free to spit them back out)
and the lurkers or part-timers or readers or hangers-on or whatever.
Personally, I think it's more of a continuum than a black-and-white
thing. There are some people who post and read a lot more than I do;
there are osme who post and read a lot less. The same could probably be
said about most folks here.

I'm not sure there's anything qualitatively different about the core
group of characters that you see as "of the Well" and the various other
social cliques that have formed since in various conferences.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #34 of 379: I TAKE LIBERTY ANCHORED ON A STRONG DESIRE TO SOLICT (watadoo) Sun 3 Jun 01 16:41
    
#28

Sandra Bullock.  Kevin Spacy, John Lithgrow.  And juila as the
romantic interest.

#20 couldn't be more spot on as far as I'm concerned.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #35 of 379: flash gordon md (flash) Sun 3 Jun 01 17:58
    
i'll play myself.

                        %^)
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #36 of 379: Paul Bissex (biscuit) Sun 3 Jun 01 18:05
    
This seems like a good time to mention

  wired.253         L   The Well According to Wired: The Movie
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #37 of 379: bit-part player (satyr) Sun 3 Jun 01 19:30
    
> positive ambivalence

Most of us who've been around for awhile have probably already had a
belly full of navel-gazing, it being a seasonally popular sport around
these parts.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #38 of 379: all booms are sonic (gjk) Sun 3 Jun 01 19:51
    

And I for one am really, REALLY glad that summer's here, because I'm seeing
more and more of them on K Street and Farragut Square.  Cutsie tattoos too.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #39 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Sun 3 Jun 01 20:58
    
Overheard in the theater a half hour into "The WELL: the Movie":

"Mom, when are the credits going to end? This is boring."
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #40 of 379: Gail Williams (gail) Sun 3 Jun 01 21:04
    
An all text monochrome movie! Imagine!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #41 of 379: Katherine Branstetter (kathbran) Sun 3 Jun 01 21:54
    
Gail's at the PicoSpan version.  The Engaged version is at the screen next
door.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #42 of 379: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 4 Jun 01 00:00
    

Where you see everything twice!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #43 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Mon 4 Jun 01 00:21
    

Phew. glad the subject of the movie came up when it did...
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #44 of 379: Thomas Armagost (silly) Mon 4 Jun 01 04:22
    <scribbled by silly Mon 9 Jul 12 15:48>
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #45 of 379: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 4 Jun 01 06:55
    
"The intimate nature of these characters' feelings talk and paint more
pictures than anything else can convey."

That nails it, I think.

And the WELL works because it's attracted users whose expressive ability
is rich, who can communicate a broad range of thoughts and feelings, so
that coming here every day is a complete and often intimate experience.

And that seems so weird to folks who don't get it... spouses, for
instance, who don't quite get why we sit staring, thinking, typing for
hours on end.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #46 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 07:33
    
My first view of the WELL was on a Compaq "Plus", which meant it had
an internal 20 Mb hard drive. Black 10-inch screen, green text. Cool.

Katie, I have to admit to a bit of misrepresentation of my feelings in
the resignatin statement you quoted from me. I wrote: "I am too much
identified with the permissive and accomodating attitude that has been
part of The Well's growth to preside over a more restrictive regime."

In truth, I was hiding my true feelings in making that lame excuse. I
mean, the WELL's attitude didn't change after I left. It didn't become
more restrictive. And "regime"? What the hell did that mean?

I was, simply, too burnt out and pissed off to continue. Pissed at the
board, at Bruce Katz, at myself for having too few good answers. The
technical team was cobbled together after my having fired <shibumi>
which was immediately followed by <dhawk> going on a permanent
vacation. Tex - my longtime partner - had left, feeling some resentment
toward me, I know. All our appeals to get more investment, raise
rates, bring in better tech management seemed to go unheeded. 

I had decided a year earlier that I was going to leave, but when we
had to rebuild the technical crew, then upgrade the Sequent, then
connect to the Internet, I felt it was my responsibility to hang in and
see those things to closure.

So what I should have written to the board was, "I'm going nuts. Let
me outta here!" My Farm experience had not taught me how to deal with a
board of directors, and to tell the truth, the board had little idea
how to advise us to run a business like the WELL. As long as the
numbers showed we were surviving, my job was safe. But in as intimate a
relationship as WELL management had with its customers, every
interruption of service felt to me like I was betraying their trust.
Six years of that was all I could handle.

So for me, the real crux of the WELL experience came in the summer of
1991 after Bruce had bought in, we'd decided to connect to the Internet
and the tech crew exploded. The business could very well have crashed
at that point. Most of us in the office were ready to walk and things
were never really happy again. 
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #47 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 08:04
    
But still, the essence of community, which you described very
eloquently, Katie, on pages 157-162, remains an important one to all of
us humans. My life is charted according to the communities I've
joined, and though I haven't been involved in any as deeply as I was in
the Farm and in the WELL over the past decade, I've come to recognize
one quality of true community membership - you never really leave.

It's been 18 years since I drove off the Farm and 9 years since I
walked out of the WELL office and ended my daily visits. But today,
when I meet or communicate with people I grew to know in either of
those experiences, there is a feeling as deep as family that comes up
between us. We have been through something together. It may have been
nasty at times. Indeed, we may not have liked each other during parts
of it. But we lived and grew through it. So in a sense, a true
community is everlasting. It just changes form.

Metallurgy has some good terms that apply well to relationships.
"Forging," "crucible," and "marriage" all describe the application of
heat to distinct elements. (If you can't stand the heat, get out of the
crucible.) But many of us withstood the heat of social and technical
and financial challenge together, and like the metals in a foundry, we
were all changed - alloyed, allied.

I think you got that idea across very well in the book, Katie. 
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #48 of 379: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 4 Jun 01 08:09
    
Cliff, my recollection is that the WELL became unbearably slow and klunky
in early '92, and the technology changes required to fix the problem were
delayed by debate about the best long-term solution, no? And with the
infrastructure 'broken,' frustrations were magnified, ongoing conflicts
became wars, all hell seemed to break loose. (This was when Mark McDonough
and I started the private 'healing' conference, thinking we would mediate
some of the disputes, and learning that the fires were burning even hotter
than we'd imagined).  I also recall that you were taking a considerable
amount of heat, and that you resigned around the time the technical issues
were being resolved. Since I'm not in the Bay Area, I missed your
going-away party, but I heard afterward that it was a healing event, much
more so than our healing conference.

Does this fit your recollection? I think I told Katie when she was working
on the Wired article that this was the story I would focus on if I was
writing the piece. Among other things, I was fascinating by the clear
impact of infrastructure on the community's stability.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #49 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Mon 4 Jun 01 08:53
    
The impact of infrastructure on a community's stability, mood, tone,
ability to interact, etc. is a subject of great fascination for me. 

In the case of the Well and what jonl just described above, it seems
analogous to stretch uninterrupted of unbearably hot days without air
conditioning. Everyone's nerves snapped.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #50 of 379: Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 4 Jun 01 08:58
    
I want to echo what <fig> just said in <47>. I lounged around this
morning finishing up the reading of the book in one big gulp. And
I realized that, just as there have been other communities that
were incredibly important to me at a particular time and place,
the WELL, as a community, is largely past-tense for me. It's a
place where I am, but not a place where I am formed or forming.
And, through the last great circumcision thrash in '91 or '92,
or maybe through the time until <tamar> died, the WELL was my
center, for several years.

And I think that the book catches some of that, but the book also
seems to miss how much of those early thrashes were what happens
when something relatively new happens. There was an intersection
of people and technology that, for a time, seemed quite utopian,
and for a time, seemed to change the rules of life. 

I think we ended up with something that was more of a narrative
about two people, <mandel> and <nana> taking place in an exotic
setting (online), than a sense of the setting and its role in
the community that people made.

Sometimes that comes through, as in the mention of <true>. And,
in the "catch up" material, describing the WELL of the last few
years, there is some sense that there was more, but there were
times when reading the book felt like reading "The Electric Cool
Aid Acid Test," but with no mention of acid, just a description
of the pranksters and their home in La Honda and groovy things
they did. Modems and connections to the WELL were our acid.

Having said that, it's still a good picture of one part of the WELL,
and possibly conveys what could be conveyed to people who weren't
there, and who aren't invested in understanding, but are rather
curious.
  

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