Our Favorite Conferences and Discussions
David Gans, Musician
The Media conference, which I co-founded 20 years ago, is a meeting place for articulate, wise, and
knowledgeable people from a great variety of professions and
philosophies. In deadlit, we talk about the music, art and community of the Grateful Dead; and in the Oakland conference, we discuss neighborhood and civic matters, compare notes on restaurants,
recommend auto mechanics, and more. So much collective wisdom in an
easy-to-use plain-text wetware wonderland.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet, kitchen maven
I adore the Wildlife
conference, with its threads about everything from octopus intelligence
to building bat boxes; it's a real WELL treasure. Elder.pri, a virtual respite zone for those of us caring for frail elders, has been an invaluable resource to me since 1995. And, as co-host of the Cooking conference, I've gained easily as much knowledge from my more expert compatriots as I've offered those seeking advice.
I've been a member of The WELL since 1991, and have found friends,
inspiration, companionship, and more practical
assistance than I can ever fully acknowledge. If you
want to know how it is that ink sticks to its page or how to pronounce a
word in Anglo Saxon, Experts is there. The News, Writers, and Health conferences are other long-term homes. The WELL's culture of intelligence, compassion, neighborliness, and occasional cascades of puns
is a world unlike any other place online. One of the first, it's still
one of the best.
Lisa Harris, Opinionated American Voter
As a (sort of) stay at home Mom, the Parenting
conference is the place I need - good advice, daily reality checks, and hilarious stories from the parenting trenches. I love all things words and language, so I can't be in The WELL without a visit to
Words. And the
Couples conference is a great place to vent
and get good advice.
Maria Rosales, assistant professor
I teach political science, so of course I enjoy the
Politics conference, where
I learn something nearly every day. Before I hit Politics, I usually read
Media, where people discuss all
the important stories (and many trivial but compelling stories) in the
news. For a complete change of pace, I'll read the
Life conference, a place where
people tell their own personal stories, usually with honesty
and compassion and insight.
Chris Barker, clinical trial statistician
I've gotten wonderful advice over the years about my sons in the
everything from finding a car seat to a preschool, and recently, on
applications for college. I visit the
Jazz conference regularly,
where there are discussions on everything from Louis Armstrong to Carla
Bley and Sun Ra. Before every vacation, I get travel advice in the
Farai Chideya, author, radio host
I love the Party conference
because who doesn't love a good party. And let me tell you, if you go to
the annual Oysterfest, you will be licking your fingers with delight. The
Writers conference is
endlessly rewarding and amazing and humbling. And
Classifieds is always
a great place to pick up or gift the exact RIGHT THING...and give it away
again if it doesn't suit you.
Alan Turner, landscape architect
The first conference I visit is
News, which is mainly about
what's going on around The WELL, but also has pointers to
interesting news of the world. Then I move on to
Media, which covers the public
pulse so well I don't have to watch TV: the conference members there do it
for me. For fun I like the
Words conference. There's
always a game or punfest going on, or some idiosyncratic discussion about
Wagner James Au, metaverse consultant
I'm a host of the Hawaii
conference, and since I grew up on the islands before
moving to California, it's my home away from home; my co-host and I try
to make the place a casual, welcoming place for kamaainas and visitors
alike. I also host
Screenwriters, for folks
who write for TV and film, or just enjoy dishing about Hollywood, and
I'm a regular in the Games
conference, a great place to geek out on the latest PC and console titles.
Edward Rustin, financial developer
Being a bit of a foodie I gravitate toward the
where I reckon I've learnt more about cooking (and becoming very hungry in
the process!) than from all the cookbooks I own. I've also got a big soft
spot for etiquette.ind;
they say manners make a man, and if I knew half as much
as they do in there, I'd be the politest guy around! Then there's
Design, which has gone a long
way towards helping me appreciate some of the beautiful objects in our
lives, and how they've come to be.
Scott Underwood, communicator, coach
Long before I became its cohost, the
Music conference was my
first destination, followed later by
New Music, its slightly
younger neighbor. They're both filled with people who listen to, play, and
discuss music with a scary amount of knowledge and passion. And since I
moved here six months ago, the
San Francisco conference has
been my main source of information about the fabulous city.
Tara L. Andrews, historian, programmer
My favorite WELL conferences are not necessarily the most-visited
ones, but around here you can find a conference for all sorts of
specialized interests. I am a frequent visitor to the
Bike conference (when I'm not
out on my bicycle.) The triumphs and travails of my Ph.D. course often drive
me to gradschool.ind,
one of The WELL's Independent conferences. When I'm looking for something
else to think about, I read up on the idiosyncrasies of my adopted
Bill Thompson, web engineer, bee farmer
My home on The WELL is the Music
conference, a fine place to chatter about current and past music, playing
gigs, remembering gigs gone by and learning about new music.
My other homes are Media and
Politics. There is so much
I get from these conferences that cannot be gleaned from anywhere else on
the Net. Though the exchanges can sometimes be sharp-edged, the
level of intellectual rigor makes for a lively, provocative and educational
Anna Cox, nurse practitioner
I co-host the Women on The WELL
conference; it's open to any woman on The WELL and we talk about anything
and everything! The
Generation X conference
often acts as my news source about the world, as well as about individual
friends and what they're getting paid to do today (you'd be surprised).
Cars is the place I go to hear
funny stories about stupid drivers, great vanity plates, and indulge my
enjoyment of all things four-wheeled that go vroom!
Charles Haynes, software guy
I love cooking and eating, so my top two favorite conferences are easily
chow.ind. Cooking to
talk about cooking food, and chow.ind to talk about eating it. After that
it gets harder, since there are so many great conferences to choose from,
topics ranging from sex and sexuality to photography or jazz music. I'd
have to say though that I love San Francisco in all its many facets
so the San Francisco
conference is my other home on The WELL.
Pamela McCorduck, author
I jump-start my writing day by going to The WELL. I'm a New Yorker, so
it's fun to muse over local stuff in the
New York conference. I also live
part-time in the Rocky Mountains, and the
Rockies conference is a
friendly place to discuss topics
like global climate change without yelling at each other. And then there's
Yoga. Something to do, not
talk about? Nobody on The WELL is at a loss for words on any topic.
Iván Cavero Belaunde, software engineer
Ever since I joined The WELL, the Macintosh conference -- which I host -- has felt
like a second home, where there's always someone ready to discuss
Cupertino's latest gizmo. The Media
conference, with its contingent of incredibly knowledgeable people and
on-the-nose, witty commentary, was what attracted me here in the first
place. And Obsess, where no
topic about any particular pet obsession is unwelcome, is incredibly
entertaining and addictive.
Jessica Mann Gutteridge, lawyer
One of the best things about The WELL is that it's not just online, but
real and lasting friendships happen offline too. I love the
New York conference for that,
plus talk about real life, like finding an apartment or what's new
in city politics.
Popcult brings a
hilarious, profane, and surprisingly insightful point of
view to popular culture. My inner critic gets a daily workout in the
Television conference, where
members parse the latest episodes with the attention to detail of a
Bill Costley, poet:
The WELL has helped me to get through the first few years after my wife died in 2007, with sympathy for my grieving poems on the Poetry conference, tolerance for my rather simple cooking on Cooking, and a place to express my love for my Maine Coon cat (Reggie) on Pets. When no one else had time for me, people on The WELL did & still do. I'm forever grateful.
James Barcelona, technologist
In the Singles conference
you get candid dating advice that works. Questions like "How do you
approach a stranger?" or "How do I kiss someone on a first date?" really
intrigue me, and I've found the advice there to be really helpful.
The San Francisco conference
is great for getting to know local San Franciscans, and learning
about apartments and tickets to great shows. I'm the host of the
Philosophy conference. If
I wasn't, it still would be my favorite conference.
Ed Ward, writer, broadcaster:
Living overseas, my information needs are different: without access to
U.S. media, I find it's essential to read the
Media conference to stay
aware of what keeps Americans buzzing. Naturally, I also check in to the
daily, and Cooking has
been a source of great tips and has certainly expanded my, um, horizons.
Kate Schram, consultant
Sometimes it does take a village to get dressed. The
conference has saved my bacon on numerous occasions.
is the home of a very special drink called the Help Me Please,
which includes a dayglo marshmallow peep garnish.
If you've ever needed the advice of a decorating maven, or a safe
space to vent about the Thomas Kinkade virus, the
is the perfect place.
Christian Crumlish, Pattern Detective:
The Pop Culture
conference is a guilty pleasure where I can catch up on catty celebrity
gossip, plastic surgery disasters, and rehab diaries.
I started the Blog conference
with my co-host to serve the many bloggers on The WELL. The conference is
lively and has grown rapidly. I'll also mention
conference where we interview authors and other notables in public.
There's always something good going on in there.
Doug Masson, attorney
I am a political junkie, and the heat-to-light ratio in the
Politics conference is
very favorable -- there's a lot of substantial discussion without a lot of
name-calling. The Sports
conference features the day-to-day discussion of all kinds of sporting
events, but the best things about the conference are the annual football
and March Madness pools. Finally, the
Legal conference is where I
go to share war stories and get advice and dark humor from the grizzled
old war horses.
Fleur Helsingor, webmaster:
I live in Oakland, California, and enjoy spending time with my friends on
The WELL, both in the Oakland
conference and in real life. In the
Arts conference, I can talk
with other artists working in a variety of media in a worldwide community.
Whenever I want to visit another time and place entirely, I like to go
find out what's new and exciting in the
Science Fiction conference.
Patrick Madden, writer:
The WELL is an intriguing melange of characters and conversations, and an
all-eclipsing addition to my internet 'hood. The burgeoning
GenY conference is my baby
of late, and I'm interested to see how it grows and develops.
conference is lovely for fans of the stuff, like myself, and I enjoy the
Words conference for banter
(witty or otherwise) and general tomfoolery.
Brady Lea, playwright/teacher:
My home on The WELL is the convivial
chow.ind. It's the best
place online to talk about food -- eating it, cooking it, going out
for it, and heck, even making dioramas from it. You'll also find me
in the San Francisco
conference, which I co-host. There we discuss all aspects of city life
from arts to sports to politics to -- okay, eating again. I'm also a fan
of Plumage, where a fashion
reality check is always available from friendly cohorts.
Joe Flower, healthcare futurist:
I love the Writers conference,
home to a wonderfully supportive community of all types of real working
writers being real people together.
Byline is full of inside info
the working writer needs -- contracts and contacts, editors and agents.
Current gives me thoughtful
insights -- and some fiercely argued points of view -- on what's happening
in the world.
Halsted Mencotti Bernard, web developer:
As a lifelong lover of books, reading, and research, the
conference is my most frequent haunt on The WELL. I rely on
to encourage my fascination with public transit. And I'm quite
compulsive about Obsess.
Paul Bissex, Web Developer, Teacher:
The Web conference was a
favorite long before I became its host -- it's a fount of knowledge for
all levels. For hardcore technical apprenticeship as a programmer I head
to the Software conference,
always impressive for its members' smarts and its near-absence of
religious wars. Finally, I've been a motorcyclist for ten years and
I've been a loyal member of the small and friendly
Ride conference all
the while. It's my virtual motorcycle gang.
Mary Mackey, novelist & poet
I've been going to The WELL almost every day since 1992. I check out
News for thoughtful,
intelligent discussion about what's going on in the world;
Health for advice on
everything from pneumonia to hangnails; and
which often makes me laugh so hard I spit tea on the screen.
Angie Coiro, radio show host:
I love the Media
conference. Perspectives on journalism from insiders and
interested observers - can't beat it!
Thrift helps me
de-emphasize my inner Consumerist Beast. And over in the
Ebay conference, I share (and
get!) selling and buying tips, for when the Beast has to come out!
Eric Gower, cookbook author
One of the harder aspects of being on The WELL is
culling down the number of conferences I visit;
there's just too much good stuff! But I
especially like the two food conferences,
They're fun and they're a fount of great, useful info.
I also find the Travel
conference invaluable: no matter where
you're headed, wellperns have not only already been
there, they'll have made compelling arguments
about what to do (and what NOT to do) once you're there.
Stephanie Vardavas, attorney:
I have always loved the Weird
conference because "weird" only begins to describe it. I love the
Plumage conference because
my friends and I never get tired of talking about clothes, shoes, bags,
accessories, and grooming, and because on Oscar night we cast all discretion
aside and call it like we see it. And the
Media conference is as rich
and huge and fast-moving as media culture itself.
How about you?
Members of The WELL are invited to join in with comments on your three favorite conferences. Please post your own favorites into this conversation in Metawell, the ongoing forum about The WELL (the business and the community) itself.