The Well: The Epic History of the First Online Community

Katie Hafner, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $21 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0846-8
If this slim volume about a model online community is any indication, there's no end in sight to accounts of the trailblazers of the Internet revolution, despite the recent fits in the market. Standing for Whole Earth `Lectronic Link, the Well was founded in 1984 by two visionary men: Stewart Brand and the aptly named Larry Brilliant. Brand was the legendary founder of the holistic do-it-yourself guide The Whole Earth Catalog, who contributed space in Sausalito, Calif., to the project, while Brilliant was a millionaire philanthropist who put up the software and hardware. They went online in 1985 with the idea of creating a virtual, latter-day salon rather than just another electronic bulletin board. Word of mouth spread quickly and soon the Well developed a distinctly Bay Area, post-hippie ambience that proved intensely magnetic to its members. Although membership peaked at only around 10,000, the Well's influence extended well beyond its members (another book could be written on the failed craze to build Well-like online communities throughout the Web). Hafner spices up the not-always dramatic story of the Well's business troubles with lengthy examples of the sort of literate, leftist, free-range discussions that were its bread and butter. Avoiding hyperbole, her style reflects her ease with a topic she's covered for the New York Times and in such respected books as Cyberpunk and Where Wizards Stay Up Late, though some readers may feel she skims too quickly over some dramatic stories about the love, rage and tears that the Well Beings (as they called themselves) poured into their keyboards over the years. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.