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Welcome to The Well

In the early years of my adventures in the neon-lit world of the Internet, I had come across a fascinating website. It was called The Well and I was enthralled by its nomenclature. Years later when I went back to The Well last week, I was elated to see it not only alive and kicking but absolutely throbbing with potential.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2003 12:01 IST

In the early years of my adventures in the neon-lit world of the Internet, I had come across a fascinating website. It was called The Well and I was enthralled by its nomenclature. Years later when I went back to The Well last week, I was elated to see it not only alive and kicking but absolutely throbbing with potential. Today, it has built on its early foundation and has become an iconic, if not a cult site that is devoted to intelligent conversation on the web. In its pit, lie communities of writers, thinkers, mavericks, digiterati and artistic creatures with online avatars. Animated conversations range from jazz to java and from gardening to Generation X.

Interestingly, The Well predates the World Wide Web. It was founded in April 1985 by Whole Earth Catalog publisher, Stewart Brand and technologist Larry Brilliant. In 1994, the founder of Rockport Shoes, Bruce Katz, bought The Well and called it `a community of free minds’. It was under Katz’s exemplary mentoring that The Well’s adaptation to the web was complete. In 1999, Salon.com acquired The Well. Today, it thrives as a part of this award-winning literary website.

The Well is an extraordinary ‘word palace’ with hundreds of topics of interest. One of the most engaging books on the subject, written by Katie Hafner, is The Well: A Story of Love, Death and Real Life in the Seminal Online Community. The book is a tale of passion for ideas that rivals the material in the book.

The best way to sample the on-goings at The Well is to be a member. But if you’d like to see what’s happening, you can register free of cost at www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/index.html and take a look at the conferences there. An example of a typical Well interaction with a distinct style is “The nightmarish process of writing.” Here is how one of the postings goes: “I'd never given much thought to writing fiction, until someone's mention of the view of Venus from Mercury got me started. (Beginning with the question what someone would be doing on Mercury to witness that view in the first place…)”

Wondering how you can be a part of this intelligent online community? Simple. Log on to www.well.com. There are two membership plans at $10/month or $15/month. Pretty expensive by Indian standards, but trust me, it’s worth it. It is indeed very heartening to see that 18 years have elapsed and The Well is still brimming with loyal members. If you’re looking for the world’s most influential online community, now you know where to look. Welcome to The Well. Carry on surfing!