inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #51 of 379: Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 4 Jun 01 08:58
    
Whew. Interesting slip!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #52 of 379: Molly Wright Steenson (explode) Mon 4 Jun 01 09:47
    

i think there's another issue here -- there are many WELLs, in a sense. i've
been here since 1996. had i had any money earlier (or a modem), i might've
come by a couple years earlier.

but my experience here is different in some ways from what katie describes
in the book, or in the wired article. there are so many facets and
experiences in this community.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #53 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Mon 4 Jun 01 09:50
    
oops. of course, that should read, "to an uninterrupted stretch of
unbearably ..."

too little sleep last night.

ari, i think you just hit on an important point: the book, now that i
think about it, isn't aimed at Well members as its readership. giving
outsiders, as you say, a good picture of one part of the WELL,
 and conveying someting to people who weren't there, and who aren't
invested but curious, was more my goal. but such a readership isn't
going to sit still for a six-volume "decline and fall of the roman
empire" treatment a la edward gibbon. 

some of the nicest feedback i've had has come from the aforementioned
crowd -- they enjoyed getting a glimpse into this world.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #54 of 379: Mike Gunderloy (ffmike123) Mon 4 Jun 01 09:55
    
<50>: "the WELL, as a community, is largely past-tense for me"

Me, too. I'm not feeling anything like the commitment or connection to
the Well this time around that I felt back whenever it was (late 80's?
Early 90's?) when it was a core part of my life.

Dunno whether this says more about changes in the Well or changes in
me, though.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #55 of 379: Declined To State (jrc) Mon 4 Jun 01 09:57
    

Yow, ask a question, go away for a day...

Katie, the point I was going to make was that, in the media conference at
least, there was a greta deal of generosity about youyr book, and
understanding that it was impossible to catch each individual's experience
over 10-year-span inj a fiverse community. You found a story and told it
well, and it gave a flavor of what online communities (remember when that
was exotic?) were like. As someoen said, the most important thing the Well
ever did was start; it was all downhill from there in terms of innovation.

The media conference used to be stopping point for every major player in the
tech media world, and lots who were not. Now it ain;t. The past tense is in
some ways appropriate. Benicia used to the capital of California too.

So my point was going to be: I suspect your fear of what people are saying
about the book here exceeeds the reality by several levels of magnitude.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #56 of 379: Undo Influence (mnemonic) Mon 4 Jun 01 10:15
    

That's for sure. So far as I know, there's no serious trashing of Katie's
book going on.

Some criticisms, yes. But even the criticisms that are unfounded (and I
think many of them are) are not particularly harsh.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #57 of 379: the System Works (dgault) Mon 4 Jun 01 10:50
    

Another effect of the 89 quake was getting us on the front page of the
Wall Street Journal the next day.   I know that puffed me up,  even if
my comment to the world was "didn't feel a thing."
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #58 of 379: Katie Hafner (kmh) Mon 4 Jun 01 11:24
    
I *remember* that WSJ story after the quake. Yet another mark of
Stewart Brand's genius: giving away free accounts to journalists. 

But I don't remember who wrote the piece...Greg Zachary?
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #59 of 379: the System Works (dgault) Mon 4 Jun 01 11:56
    
No,  I think it was Michael something.  Miller?  He was the Journal's
local guy.  I think every poster who used the word "Bolinas" was
included in the article.  
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #60 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 13:12
    
Yeah, Mike Miller. That was a ground-breaking piece in itself. Fresh
posts from earthquake central on the cover of the WSJ. A great scoop.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #61 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 13:20
    
At one point, as we weighed our options looking for additional revenue
to fix something/everything, we decided that if a journalist wasn't
providing some tangible value in terms of giving us some free promo in
their paper or magazine, we would begin charging them. That was one of
the few times that Stewart snarled at us. We backed down gracefully.
The value of being reported on to the public was impossible to
calculate, but it did "puff up" the local pride factor - or indignance
factor - and strengthened peoples' bonds to their WELL citizenship.

The fact that there has almost always been a "WELL in the news" and
"WELL members in the news" topics shows how media conscious we are. The
former topic may have slowed down considerably, but the latter still
seems to get frequent new entries. A lot of us have gotten higher
profiles over the years.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #62 of 379: staring at the end of rolling nowhere (watadoo) Mon 4 Jun 01 13:42
    
Thanks for all your comments <fig>. This conversation is nearly as
interesting and historically informative as Katie's book. 
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #63 of 379: the System Works (dgault) Mon 4 Jun 01 13:55
    

If there was sound on this box I'd say in my best Lou Reed voice:

"Those were different times."

I'm having some terrible flashbacks here.  The Sequent,  for example, 
didn't support the "ps" command,  which is the Swiss Army
Knife/crowbar/duct tape tool for Unix trouble shooting.  Sequent hadn't
got around to fixing it for multiple processor systems.  

Thinking about this stuff really brings home the fact that commercial
use of the Internet is less than ten years old.  
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #64 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Mon 4 Jun 01 13:59
    

  It didn't?   ISTR getting the moral equivalent of 'ps' output from
the Sequent somehow.....


  Ditto the thanks to <fig> for these wonderful insights into those
times -- it really ties a lot of things together for me, some of which
I was aware of at the time but really didn't understand very well.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #65 of 379: the System Works (dgault) Mon 4 Jun 01 14:04
    

It didn't run if the load was over .33 or something.  It existed but
usually would hang woefully and display nothing.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #66 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Mon 4 Jun 01 14:29
    

  Ah, thanks.  I don't recall now if that happened for me, but of course
it's been nearly ten years.....  Either way, it was a frustrating machine
in a lot of ways.  But it does have the distinction in my memory of being
the first UN*X architecture on which I disassembled and studied a bona-fide
system attack program -- something that <jef> found & asked for my help with
(I think because I knew '386 assembler?); it turned out to be just a simple
fill-up-the-process-table type of denial-of-service attack with a stupid bug
in the part of the code that tried to hide itself from system monitoring
tools (like ps).  That was actually rather fun for me, figuring out what the
code was doing and what disassembly tools were available (turned out that
Sequent had very helpfully supplied some, you just had to know where to look
for them).  Of course, this was back when <jef> would still deign to speak
to me......{grin}
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #67 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 15:52
    
Katie wrote "Where Wizards Stay Up Late" but I remember dgault and I
staying up late a few nights in 1992 and we sure didn't feel like
wizards? Remember all those printouts, David? What the...? I forget
what was going on, but it sure was a marathon figuring it out. Some of
my more punch-drunk hours.

Anyhoo...I especially appreciate reading about the
ownership/management dealings that went on after I left. The Mo/Maria
era and the time when the WELL was divesting its telecomm functions
from its interface development. I'd been working with Mark Graham
during 1993-1994 with his company, Pandora Systems. When that went
under, he ended up with a VP title at the WELL and was helped spur the
split-off of Whole Earth Networks and WELL Engaged. 

Katie, did you hear anything from anyone about Mark? I had the
impression that he was very influential there for a while, leading the
beginnings of WELL Engaged and getting Bridgeway Avenue torn up to
bring high bandwidth into the new WELL offices. Mark's been a VP at
iVillage for a couple years.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #68 of 379: the System Works (dgault) Mon 4 Jun 01 16:17
    

Cliff we didn't *have* a printer.   

Seriously though,  given the lack of a printer,  any printouts we'd
have been checking would have been the output of the project management
software used by Celeste the consultant on the Sequent upgrade.   Yes,
 they were hellishly detailed and labyrinthine in their paths and
dependencies.   But hey,  it worked and that was kind of a surprise!   

Man,  that was a rough stretch.  I don't know how you handled it for
so long Cliff,  although I suspect parenting 4 boys and living in a 500
member family made it a little less daunting.   

I remember going to see the reissue of "Wages of Fear" at the Castro
with <tex> a couple of months before,  the flick about Belmando driving
the big truck full of nitro in compound low across the wastes of
Guyana,  back when you could smoke in theatres,  and we're both going
"this is the WELL,  this is the WELL",  and some guy in front of us
turns around and says "how's the disk upgrade going?"
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #69 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Mon 4 Jun 01 16:31
    

  ! ! !
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #70 of 379: Paul Bissex (biscuit) Mon 4 Jun 01 17:42
    
That goes in the next book!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #71 of 379: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 4 Jun 01 17:59
    

What's interesting to me about this discussion is that much of what is
being discussed took place "before my time" and I've been here going on
nine years.  One of the very first WELL events I attended was <fig>'s
going away party (where was that, anyway?  It's a place I've never been
back to.)

Everything with <mandel> and <nana> took place before I had much
awareness of much of the WELL and many of the people on it.  I didn't know
anything at all about <mo> and his search for his mother, I only knew <mo>
as one of the general managers of the WELL.

So the WELL you describe, and the one I know - the one that shaped me -
are two very different places.

Everyone's list of stories that define the WELL for them will be
different.  I'd list news 1290 as the story that laid the foundation for
my first true defining experience of the WELL.  But that was in '93 and
there have been many since.

I know you can't tell all the stories, I just think it's important for the
world to know that there are many, many others, and many still in the
making.  And that the WELL and all that it is, is far from over.  
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #72 of 379: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 4 Jun 01 17:59
    

biscuit slipped with the obvious answer!
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #73 of 379: Bob 'rab' Bickford (rab) Mon 4 Jun 01 18:14
    

  I agree with you, castle, which is why I'm really enjoying this topic --
both Katie's commentary and the memories that are coming forward from some
of the folks that made things happen in those days.  The story of the WELL,
if such a thing could ever really exist, would of course not be 'about' any
one (or a few) of us -- but would definitely have to include a lot more of
these kinds of stories than Katie was able to.  Really, I don't think it's
possible to tell the story of the WELL and have it focus on any one person
(or that it's really proper to try).  E.g., I wouldn't want to read a book
that claimed to be about the WELL and which focused on me (and neither would
anyone else).  But if one is going to do something like that, I think that
probably <mandel> was just about the best choice that anyone could have
made.......

  There's a sense in which the 'better' history of the WELL that I'm vaguely
imagining would be sort of related to specific individual people, and that
is by going over the events and activities that they found important or
moving or enjoyable.  There'd be little reason to mention *whose* events and
activities were being discussed, but it would be *much* more interesting to
trace ten or twenty different threads of interests and events and suchlike
over time.

  Most objections to Katie's article/book (mine especially) are about what
events and stories were left out, not at *all* about personal credit or
anything like it.  In other words, one might feel it's important to mention
the creation of the annual Hackers conferences, the creation of Cyberthon,
the memorial for Casey, the SmarTV project and Blair's involvement prior to
his death, and so on, without ever once needing to mention any living
person's name.  I hope that's clear: the WELL story is not about any of us,
most emphatically not about me, but it *is* about all of us.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #74 of 379: Cliff Figallo (fig) Mon 4 Jun 01 19:25
    
Cyberthon! SmarTV! 

As long as this many smart people keep meeting in the same place, the
stories will keep coming. So the WELL's not one of only a few online
communities anymore and its adventures don't stir the imaginations of
journalists on a slow news day anymore. To the people who spend a lot
of time here, it's still one thick chunky tasty stew that you'd be
hardpressed to equal anywhere else. 

Katie gives the world a good taste of it. You might have wished she'd
given a taste of the potato instead of the carrot, but the sauce is the
same all over.
  
inkwell.vue.113 : Katie Hafner: The Well-A Story of Love, Death, and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
permalink #75 of 379: Berliner (captward) Tue 5 Jun 01 02:49
    
This whole thing is extremely interesting for me. I've just ordered
Katie's book from Amazon, and figure that between it and this
discussion, I'm going to learn a lot about context and history. I've
only been here since earlier this year, although I've known some of the
denizens of the Well for, in some cases, longer than the Well's been
in existence. 
  

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