inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #0 of 57: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Fri 6 Jul 12 10:12
    
This week, we are starting a conversation with Andreas Schneider, part
of the team of film makers who are currently working on a documentary
about the WELL. 

Andreas Schneider studied fine arts in Karlsruhe and  media arts as a
postgraduate student in Cologne, Germany. He currently lives and works
in Cologne, Germany. His artwork and films have been shown at film
festivals as well as in the art context. 

His artistic work includes an anthropological view on technology, on
how the human and the technological side relate to one another. In his
work as an artist he explores the resulting social meaning of
technology in everyday life and the standards, that reflect
technological, social and economic developments. His main interest is
the relation between technology and behavior and the historical
development of social media is a field that his artistic work explores.

I have the honor of interviewing Andreas about this project.

Julie Sherman, <julieswn> on the WELL, lives and works in Asheville,
North Carolina. She spent many years working in the HIV/AIDS education
field and then being a program director/manager at health-related
non-profits. Currently she is the administrator at the Reform
congregation in Asheville. She is also an active member of the
Asheville Film Society and loves film, especially documentaries.

Welcome to Inkwell, Andreas!
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #1 of 57: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Fri 6 Jul 12 10:14
    
My first question for you, is what about the history of the WELL
interested you enough to do this project? I don't imagine that the WELL
was particularly well-known in Germany.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #2 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Fri 6 Jul 12 14:03
    
Hi julie and thank you very much for the kind invitation,

The WELL still seems pretty unknown in Germany, at least I think so. I
had worked on other projects before, and I started to ask myself where
terms like IRL came from. Another term and esspecially an idea that I
found very interesting simply was the idea of an "online community".
And - I think you can easily imagine - from there it was not far to the
WELL. 
Certainly the WELLs history made me curious and I wondered about what
the WELL is like today. I was able to read a lot about the WELL´s past
but I wanted to know what it´s like today, how WELL members think about
it, what they observed and experienced about being member of an online
community for quite a long time, why they think it´s there after so
many yeas and maybe also why it´s so constant.

And certainly there was - and maybe still is - a "romtantic" idea in
my mind about the WELL.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #3 of 57: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Fri 6 Jul 12 14:33
    
I know that you have done some interviews with long-time WELL folks.
Did they share anything surprising with you? Did their reports match
your "romantic" idea of the WELL?
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #4 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sat 7 Jul 12 05:18
    
Certainly my picture of the WELL is changing, and it´s less
"romantic", I guess. Thinking of your question there are moments in
every interview, that I could discribe now. But maybe I will just
choose one or two in this post and try to discribe what they made me
think of. And maybe I can come up with questions that I am curious to
get to know more about.

When I was talking to Cliff he mentioned the backstage area, where the
staff could talk about what he called "meta issues", about behaviors
that worked and on others that didn´t.
So, there was a self-awareness and members seem very concious about
this relation of software and behavior. Cliff told me that behaviors
where also sometimes transformed into software, and he mentioned the
bozo filter. Maybe there is other examples too? Is there still a need
for this thinking about behavior and how it relates to software? 

Maybe there is someone - maybe also from the staff who worked on the
software - who would like to share his/her thoughts about this
relation?

And it would be very interesting to get to know much more about the
ways in that communitcations are/can be influenced on the WELL by it´s
structure. I mean, what part of a conversation is public on the WELL
and what part of a conversation takes place in private conference and
how does that effect public conversations. I imagine that it allows a
lot of play, but also sometimes caused some friction? And is there a
tendency towards more privat conferences, where members meet in smaller
groups? and why did it evolve this way?

There is this mix of private, members-only and the public area here on
inkWELL. To spent a little bit of time here on inkWELL gave me a
little impression on something, that John discribed very precisely when
we met.

He called it "a feel of being online". A feel, maybe a little like
being "on a stage", and maybe also the idea that others might
communicate about you, maybe in private areas where you do not have
access.
I´m not sure, maybe it´s different than I discribe it, maybe WELL
members got used to it very fast, maybe it´s different for everyone and
depends. Maybe there is some answers about how this feeling evolved?
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #5 of 57: Jerry (jcs) Sat 7 Jul 12 08:14
    
Hello again, Andreas.  As one of your interviewees I look forward to this
conversation.  When we met you had plans to interview several other people,
but I am unclear on whom you actually eventually visited.  Is it permissible
to reveal that list?
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #6 of 57: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 7 Jul 12 08:30
    
Great questions about the dynamics of the community as its thinking
has evolved regarding public/private conversations and "rules of the
road". 

Andreas, certainly timely that you are doing this documentary now. I
imagine our current challenges will put an additional perspective on
it.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #7 of 57: Lisa Harris (lrph) Sat 7 Jul 12 09:37
    
Hi Andreas! Thanks for being here.  I'm very interested to see how
your documentary about a text-only community will look.  For me, seeing
members I only know by their user id on film may be difficult to get
used to.  

As for the difference between private and public/featured conferences,
I think the biggest difference is that in private conferences you know
who can and can't be there.  It's private. New members, typically, are
introduced by the host to the entire group.  In a public conference,
any member can be lurking without anyone really knowing. It effects
content, primarily, I think. 

In my experience here, granted only 7 years, there isn't friction
amongst conferences.  What happens in one place, generally, stays
there.  Of course, there are topics which are linked to more than one
conference, but that is always noted within the topic.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #8 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sat 7 Jul 12 10:03
    
hi Lisa,  

The question on how a film or video project on the WELL might look
like is definetly an interesting one. The situation in the interview is
face to face and of course its very differnt from what the WELL is
like. So probably one aspect is, since the WELL is text only, is  that
the interviews are communication about communicating not seeing each
other. 
The face to face aspect like WELL office parties would be intersting
either and we were very happy to have the chance to spent an hour at
one of the sing things in Oakland and that we had the chance to get a
little impression on a face to face event there.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #9 of 57: With catlike tread (sumac) Sat 7 Jul 12 10:28
    
Hmm, tugboat party?
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #10 of 57: . (wickett) Sat 7 Jul 12 10:47
    

Welcome Andreas! Will you be doing more filming or is that aspect of your 
project finished? 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #11 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sat 7 Jul 12 10:51
    
Hi Ted,

I heard what´s going on and I´m not sure about what to think about
this since one question that actually came up during some of the
interviews was, why the WELL is still there and how it survived?
But of course then it was just something that in my eyes proofed that
the WELL is a piece of online history. I like to think of it as a
historic site, that is still in use. I think historic sites are
important to go back to.
But maybe it would be great if you could describe your observations or
experiences concerning the group dynamics and how people organize?
 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #12 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sat 7 Jul 12 11:07
    
And hi again Jerry! 
Hope you are fine. We so far mainly met WELL staff and managers. So we
met Cliff and John, and Matthew too. And we also met Hilary and Nancy.
Then we visited you and Reva, and Howard, David and Rita and Jon and 
Katherine and Gail, I hope both of you are fine! 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #13 of 57: With catlike tread (sumac) Sat 7 Jul 12 11:09
    
Liek (wickett), I wonder if you are still filming.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #14 of 57: Jerry (jcs) Sat 7 Jul 12 11:23
    
Thanks for the response, Andreas.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #15 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sat 7 Jul 12 11:28
    
hi Susan,

I am more evaluating on the interviews so far. It takes quite some
time to watch the footage carefully. So that happens while I´m writing
on my thesis for my theoretical diploma of my postgraduate studies. 
I´m thinking about applying for fundings here in Germany to go on with
the project. 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #16 of 57: Ed Ward (captward) Sat 7 Jul 12 12:02
    
Ask Arte!

And if you want to talk to a European Well member, I'm on your side of
the Atlantic.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #17 of 57: a plaid pajama ninja (cynsa) Sat 7 Jul 12 23:22
    
hi Andreas. good luck with your project!

re: "Cliff told me that behaviors
 where also sometimes transformed into software, and he mentioned the
 bozo filter. Maybe there is other examples too? Is there still a need
 for this thinking about behavior and how it relates to software? "

there were cases, yes, where the needs of the community required
creation software; e.g., sweeper was a very popular program
that was developed because, at the time, it cost us $2/hr to connect,
and some of us (raises hand sheepishly) were accruing bills upwards
of $200/mo, not to mention long-distance charges for those of us who
didn't live close by!  sweeper would log in, download any new responses,
and post your replies in a minute or two.  but this took away from the
sense of "being there", and so I wasn't fond of it.

another example was the expansion of unix's "write" command into
a send command that bounces up into the picospan shell and
interrupts whatever the user is reading to interpolate the 
message into the screen.  this also adds to the sense of being
there because people online at the time can interrupt each
other to say hello and chat.

but for the most part, the tools are what forms the community,
not the other way around, (we call it "tools, not rules") and 
I think that is the real problem I'm having with other social 
media.  I have seen people on tumblr have to hack their way 
using the api in order to force communication because it's 
not built into the system to be able to respond to each 
other's picture postings.  people are trying desperately to 
communicate, but the tools don't make it easy.  here on the 
WELL the tools make it the whole point of being here.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #18 of 57: Chuck Charlton (chuck) Sun 8 Jul 12 00:00
    
Now that's an interesting comment from Cliff.  That's not quite 
the way I remember it.  In 1992 I dropped my Well account for a 
few months, and a big reason was my frustration with what seemed 
to me to be a rising level of incivility on the system.  But I 
stayed in touch with my Well friends, and I continued to attend 
Well face-to-face events.  At a Well picnic one of the Well's 
trusted cadre of volunteer software contributors mentioned to me 
that he had written a bozofilter for picospan.  I was quick to 
sign up again and rejoin the conversation, and I used the 
bozofilter a lot.  But I thought the bozofilter was introduced 
after Cliff left, when Mo was the General Manager.  But I could 
be wrong.

A few years later, when the web interface, Engaged, was 
introduced, it had a native filter built in.  But I think it was 
perhaps ten years after that before picospan had an integral 
filter to replace the one that a volunteer had tacked on.

For about a dozen years I forced myself to look behind my 
bozofilter from time to time to see if people had changed.  And 
indeed I sometimes found that a few of my former bozos were more 
interesting to me.  But I don't know whether they had changed, or 
whether I had.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #19 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sun 8 Jul 12 02:39
    
Hi Chuck,

you´re right and maybe I can take the opportunity to correct that I
was maybe not precise enough. Cliff mentioned the bozo filter and that
the idea appeared earlier, but was realized after he left.

You mentioned that that you dropped your account for a few month? As I
was told it sometimes could get very emotional, very exciting and
sometimes rough at the same time. And, I also heard often very kind and
supportive, too. My picture of the WELL is not that there was friction
all the time, just to mention that.

So, how do filters and emotions relate to another? Is it kind of a
protection and software can create a feel of "security", what then
could match with what you mean by "civility" ? So how do you think that
"civility" evolved, or what human amd also what technological factors
brought forward "civility"? 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #20 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sun 8 Jul 12 03:04
    
thanks very much and hello Cynsia!
This sense of "being there" - it would be great if you could try to
discribe it a little more and maybe your experiences as a musician
performing in front of an audience is comparable in some way? 
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #21 of 57: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 8 Jul 12 05:15
    
I first joined the WELL around 1995. I was so intimidated by the level
of conversation and flaming, in some conversations, that I lurked for
a year before actually posting anything. I'm not sure if the bozo
filter was in place then, and have never used it. Like any new social
situation you have to learn to navigate your way around and appreciate
the various personalities. I found Pico a bit much as a learning curve
and Engaged worked for me. When I did finally venture a few posts I
found people responsive and threw myself into the adventure
wholeheartedly. The spectrum of topics is so broad that you can find
just about anything of interest. And if you don't, you are encouraged
to start your own topic(s) of conversation; which I have done. 

Over time you build up a rapport as you engage people. It's not just
finding people you agree with, or who second your opinions. Much of the
value for me has been in recognizing and enjoying people with far
different points of view.

There was a time where I lived in to take care of two aging family
members dealing with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. The <elder.pri>
conference became a life saver for me, both emotionally and
informationally for those three years.

It is unique, in my experience, to have such strong bonds with people
you have never met. I've only met three Wellperns face to face over all
these years. Yet I think of this community as the first and last place
to go when I want to discover or share something. 

It also has one of the richest senses of humor and outrageousness.
Conversations, their drifts, and pauses, and downturns, can often take
a whole new tack by comedic relief.  
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #22 of 57: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 8 Jul 12 05:21
    
An oft-repeated result of the use of the bozofilter is the realization
"it's me, not you." The few times I used the bozofilter were because my
reactions to someone's posts were consistent: rising anger and a need to
compose an excellent, withering reply. This would result in 20 minutes
of furious typing, at the end of which I would either post and scribble,
or just decline to post at all. I started seeing this first as wasted time
(thus, the bozofilter had an economic effect), but eventually I realized
that my anger was about trying to control what the other person said.

I don't have anyone in my bozofilter anymore, and I've become much better
at rolling my eyes and passing over the offending post(er). Not always,
but most often.
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #23 of 57: Scott Underwood (esau) Sun 8 Jul 12 05:21
    
Slip
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #24 of 57: Laura Venersha (mtrbike) Sun 8 Jul 12 07:26
    


The bozofilter was in place when I joined in 1993, because I was
surprised at how poor it was (and still is) compared to usenet's
killfiles.  

I see nothing wrong with the bozofilter at all.  Have used it
happily since day 1.  (well, probably day 5 or 6, when I first
got fed up with someone and asked how do do it).  
  
inkwell.vue.446 : Andreas Schneider and the WELL Documentary Project
permalink #25 of 57: Andreas Schneider (andreasschn) Sun 8 Jul 12 10:58
    
inspiring answer Ted,

I remember very well, when John told me about a women who did not want
to attend face to face events.
Maybe she had created an imagination about the users that she didn´t
want to loose if she would have met them. And Nancy told me that she
thought that members sometimes communicated things that they might not
easily tell face to face to someone, even if they do know the person
very well. So there remains a distance, like people stay strangers and
know each other very well at the same time.

It would certainly be very intresting to get to know your thoughts
about that? 
  

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