The WELL CELEBRATES A QUARTER CENTURY OF ONLINE COMMUNITY
San Francisco, CA -- April 1, 2010 -- The WELL (http://www.well.com), the pioneering social network and conversation site founded as the "Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link" in 1985, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this April in the way its members love most -- by talking about the experience online and off. Special forums, spring tree plantings and parties will express the loyalty and affections WELL members have for their longtime gathering place.
The WELL was founded by Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand in partnership with philanthropist and technology pioneer Larry Brilliant. Salon.com acquired the site in 1999, and has continued to run it as a subscription service.
The WELL today is a members-only gathering place dedicated to intelligent conversation. A curious assembly of about 3000 writers, technologists, artists and experts keeps company and exchanges information on a vast variety of topics. The subject matter ranges from politics to parenting to science fiction, and to whatever else WELL members decide to explore today. The WELL has always been marked by a policy of requiring members to disclose their real names to one another, which encourages the development of deeper relationships and ongoing ties.
What is it like to spend decades in conversation on the Internet?
"The WELL is not virtual or simulated society. If anything it's sometimes too real. People become more themselves over time, in all kinds of annoying and endearing ways," said Salon's Director of Communities, Gail Ann Williams, who has been involved with The WELL since 1990. "A whole lot of shared experiences plus a keen curiosity about who will arrive -- and what will happen next -- keep the passion for conversation alive here."
Members are active in over 200 forum areas called "conferences." Conferences have performed functions as delicate as comforting the gravely ill, as passionate as Grateful Dead show tape-trading via the US Mail back before MP3 files were invented, as practical as helping plan new ventures from Craigslist to Salon.com itself, and as social as word games and sometimes heated talk about the news of the day.
"The WELL is where I learned about online community almost twenty years ago, and its spirit inspired my current work," said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. "It's the real deal, still connecting people, getting the job done."
Membership in The WELL, which includes unlimited participation in hundreds of members-only forums, costs $100 or $150 per year depending on selected features, with optional monthly and introductory rates available.
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