DIGITAL AMERICA

WELL’S Management Strategies.

// Posted by on 05/21/2015 (5:42 PM)

Although the WELL’S makeup of its hardware, and software did not differ from other computers in the way it computed, and transferred information, the company’s model was still nonetheless, an ingenious concept.  As the saying goes, “if it’s not broke don’t fix it”. Brand relied on proven management strategies to build his empire by using a handful of former “counterculturalist, hackers, and journalist” (14); the same mind-set used when he helped to build the Whole Earth Software Catalog. For me, what separated WELL’s computer strategies from main-stream computer technology was that WELL’s, goal was to combine main-stream hierarchy, and counterculture into a new realm of digital communication. Thereby, creating a new form of communication for people, to come together, and discuss new and different ideas.

Another concept that stood out for me was some of the by-laws/standards of the company such as: “to be free, open-ended universe, self-governing, and the marketing to one sector of business users. In addition, to the concept of the Whole Earth brand being one with the universe. However, with those perceptions, I feel the WELL missed some important issues. First when people are involved comes with that is materialism, and as much as they tried to avoid a capitalist society, they couldn’t avoid capitalism.  Because they soon realized nothing is free, thus, the users were charged a nominal fee for the use of the WELL. Also, when it came to copyrights, they cautioned themselves, as well, by transferring the liability onto their users. As a rule people need controls, and operating a business on lightheartedly standards, would be challenging, if serious controls are not in place.  In addition, to that, a standard is established to provide rules, and guidelines for the characteristics of a company.  And lastly how can a business survive by having just one marginal niche. Even though, some of the design goals made no sense to me, the WELL developed something their users wanted and that was a virtual community, for people to come together.

In addition, to that the WELL also added a unique value to the virtual community, because they tried to remove the reality from virtual reality, and go beyond from just developing a personal computer. As well, they attempted to remove the bureaucracy caused by universities, and government, and build a system that empowered a neutral community of democratic conscious believers. Because of the WELL’s initial unorthodox foundation their thought processes, and leadership was not completely about big business, or personal financial success.

Bonnie


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Comments:


Rosatelli said...

Hi Bonnie,

The WELL was definitely a piece of software, not hardware, but many of users could trade tips on how to improve their computers. It was a really open time in the days of computing, and, in many ways, those same ideals that the WELL laid the foundation for are still in existence. There are still open source communities that share code and users who help answer questions for other users on forums. I use these forums all of the time, and I’m always struck that people are willing to write a response, and sometimes solve a problem, just because I asked. They don’t get paid, nor do they really get an credit–they are just trying to help and bolster the community. I often wonder, if the WELL was not created with the philosophy that Turner outlines, would we have these types of spaces online today?

// 05/21/2015 at 8:10 pm

Kaitlyn said...

Great post! I really like the point that you made about how The WELL attempted to remove the bureaucracy from their website and focus solely on a neutral community of democratic conscious believers. This was a place for not only men but for women to come and voice their own opinion and engage in discussions. It was also a place for people all over the world from different cultures and background to come. This to me is why The WELL was such a great example of a virtual community. People could feel safe about logging on and engaging in conversations and even starting up new topics for discussion. I think that at this time people probably logged onto The WELL in order to feel like they belonged to something big and something important. They knew that their thoughts were be read and discussed if they put it out there on the Internet. I believe that this concept is still true today. Many people use social media as an outlet for copping with problems and reaching out to others for support. This is probably something that did not happen as much during the time of The WELL, they were mostly engaging in educational and intelligent conversations back then.

// 05/23/2015 at 9:43 am