The Well: A Story of Love, Death & Real Life in the Seminal Online Community
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The Well: A Story of Love, Death & Real Life in the Seminal Online Community

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  23 ratings  ·  5 reviews
The Well was conceived during the Orwellian year of 1984, yet instead of heralding Big Brother, it became a boundary-breaking cultural invention that helped change our world. Though few glimpsed its potential, it quickly became indispensable to the evolution of the Internet as we know it today. Its creators were Larry Brilliant, a visionary software engineer and philanthro...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published April 22nd 2001 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published April 2001)
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It's a quick read, but it tells a long story. The Well is one of the earliest and longest-running online communities, and I've been a member for more than 10 years. Hafner's writing reads like much of the writing in the Well: personal, insightful, and very human. She looks at the evolution of the business, as well as some of the highlights -- and low points -- of the relationships among members. Even the darkest of days and most difficult situations is addressed with grace and empathy. Of intere...more
A narrative perspective of one of the first online communities. Hafner's story of the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link takes closely details the lives of the people (as opposed to an events-focused chronology) who made up the community, with a focus on Tom Mandel and several other important figures that shapped the Well's history. The work was first published in shorter form as an article in Wired magazine. A clipping pace makes this a quick read that tech junkies will enjoy
As a 13-year veteran of's Table Talk forum (based on the Well and now owner of the Well), I enjoyed this quick and interesting read about the first online community, told mostly through its more outsized characters with a smattering of technical jargon.
Sari Lynn
An interesting look inside the online community. I found it particularly appealing because I was acquainted with a number of the people mentioned, so I was able to relate to the times and events from a more personal perspective.
John Stepper
So much potential but the author never really captures why a small on-line community ever gained the reputation it has. The examples verge on high schoolish.

Could have been so much more...
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Katie Hafner was on staff at The New York Times for ten years, where she remains a frequent contributor, writing on healthcare and technology. She has also worked at Newsweek and BusinessWeek, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, Esquire,Wired, The New Republic, The Huffington Post, and O The Oprah Magazine. She is the author of five previous works of nonfiction covering a diverse rang...more
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