The Well

Submitted by Ted Takacs on Sun, 12/26/2004 - 19:20.

is an online gathering place like no
other -- remarkably uninhibited, intelligent, and iconoclastic. For more than
seventeen years it's been a literate watering hole for thinkers from all
walks of life, be they artists, journalists, programmers, educators or
activists. These WELL members return to The WELL, often daily, to engage
in discussion, swap information, express their convictions and greet their
friends in online forums known as WELL Conferences.

 The WELL is distinguished by its non-anonymous
participants, and by uncommon policies. The service does not sell
subscriber data to marketers, nor place ads within passworded areas.
This unique gathering place is both greatly valued and directly supported
by WELL subscribers.

Where Is The WELL?

The WELL is a cluster of electronic villages on the Net,
inhabited by people from from all over the world.

Familiarity with one another and a high degree of expressive freedom has
resulted in sometimes startling contrasts in atmosphere from Conference
to Conference.
Each has a distinctly different sense of place and style, and
loyal participants. The Books Conference might be a particularly cool
coffee house, the Generation X Conference something between a trendy club and
a pie fight, and the Legal Conference an informed but contentious seminar.

The WELL's conversations take place on keyboards around the world, but the
servers and staff have always been in northern California. The first
WELL computer and modem rack were located in Sausalito.
The WELL's office is now in San Francisco but the real action is
online, and a few keystrokes away for WELLfolk all over.

Where is The WELL? There's no simple answer to that question, but as
Gertrude Stein might have said, "There's a there there." 

How Can I Get a
Taste of The WELL?

You can get a taste of WELL culture by sampling one of our conferences that
anyone on the Web may read without registering. Drop by

, where we discuss books with the authors who wrote them,
or check out our potpourri conference,

, with its widely varied threads ranging from fast and funny to
in-depth and thoughtful. Remember that Inkwell and Pre.vue are only two
examples of WELL interaction; each conference has a distinct style.

How Did It Get So Good?

Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link in
1985, starting with a dialog between the fiercely independent writers and
readers of the Whole Earth Review. This set the tone for the open
but remarkably literate and uninhibited intellectual gathering that continues
today. Over the years, WELL members have made fast friends, created enduring
traditions, gathered casually face-to-face in cities 'round the world,
provided support and mentoring to strangers, developed feuds, gone into
business, fallen in and out of love... They have founded advocacy
organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and documented
what was emerging in books like Howard Rheingold's The Virtual
, John Seabrook's Deeper, and Katie Hafner's

Dive Into The WELL

The WELL is a place made of words, an extraordinary word palace with thousands
upon thousands of topics of interest. The best way to learn about it is to
join and get your WELL password.
Use it to plunge in and explore, to see if this is the place
for you.

As you'll soon see,
there's nothing like The WELL.


Memberships come in two packages:


The $10/month Essential Membership Plan includes:

  • Participation in the vibrant WELL and Salon
    Table Talk discussion communities (via Web
    browser only)

  • Complimentary ad-free subscription to Salon
    Premium with Table Talk