I’ve joined the grandfather of discussion groups (not quite the oldest, but it went online in 1985!). It’s called the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (the people behind the Whole Earth Catalog in the sixties and seventies originated it; it’s now run by Salon.com). This is something new for me; other than a couple e-mail lists and lurking around on a blog or two, I’m not really part of an “online community.” Eventually, I hope to set up a discussion forum on the BuildaBridge site for artists and arts therapists to discuss work and exchange ideas. This is my case study for learning how to form and moderate such things.
The Well is divided up into hundreds of discussion threads on just about everything (from poetry to philosophy to popular culture to public policy). There is a very active “writers” discussion on the shaping and use of words. Early on, the Well gave away free membership to journalists and writers, so there is an established base. I’m really looking forward to diving into the discussions and hoping for some intelligent feedback. The interface is really quirky; I access through a UNIX command line—remember back when everything was text? There is a web-based version, but it’s actually not as easy to navigate. Perhaps, for BuildaBridge, we can set up something really archaic where people must log-on with old Apple II computers or punch cards; retro is really in now.