Group 1′s Discussion of Chapter 5

// Posted by on 05/23/2015 (9:53 PM)

The WELL (located in the San Francisco Bay area) is an unexpected consequence for Stewart Brand who created the Whole Earth Catalog, and I think that Fred Turner did a good job explaining that where one stopped the other pick up the digital connection and spread it to a wider audience.  Larry Brilliant wanted to use the already established network that the catalog provided.  Like an over protective father, Brand was selective in what he would allow Brilliant to have.  Turner indicates that “…nearly twenty years after it served the back-to-the-land movement the Whole Earth Catalog became a model for one of the most influential computer networks to date…”  I like the name WELL as it conjures up images of a meeting place in biblical times.  Singular energy… close to God.  Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant started the WELL which was a teleconferencing system within which subscribers (according to Kevin Kelly’s list -for a membership charge and specific rules of engagement) could hold conversations amongst peers and other computer savvy individuals.  This group of people (community) held likeminded interests as Brand and Brilliant but also included experts in the technological field such as hackers and journalists/editors who were associated with well-known publications such as New York Times and Rolling Stone.  The participants could communicate from multiple locations, real time or whenever time permitted.  The WELL was dug deeper as the celebrity interest grew.

According to Turner, one of the benefits of the WELL included a rise in a social network that built economic organization and in freelance patterns of employment.  Their employment depended on these connections and this textual forum became a place for business and community.  Turner uses words like “virtual community and electronic frontier” to describe the WELL. Turner attributes this to the expertise on Howard Rheingold and John Perry Barlow.  In an attempt to escape mainstream bureaucracy and it changes through the years, this virtual community was enticing.

Some similarities that the WELL has to modern day social media are the “McLuhan Equation” which indicates that the medium is the message.  The medium refers to mass forms of communication such as radio, television, the press, the Internet. And the message is the actual information.  They both started small and grew rapidly.  Information can be obtained, shared or disputed.  There is instant gratification when things go well and you get multiply tries as being “liked”.  They both have some form of governance, and they each have cost.  Once you put the information out there be it correct or incorrect… it is out there for all eyes.  However, the WELL seemed to solicit the attention of a specific audience where social media does not.

I have friends that post every minute of their day online “as if”.  Anyone that has this kind of time needs a real life.  Personally, some people become too self-absorbed and seem addicted.  Not only do they post but the expect you to respond timely and become offended when you do not. Some users will say or show almost anything to get your attention.  This being said…  I think parents, churches and schools have control over the actions of the next generation.  There should be limits placed on what social media usage.  Even the WELL had rules.   I think that one day users are going to wake up to realize that too much of their personal lives have been shared.  Especially as it starts to bring negative impact such as not being selected for jobs or promotions, difficulty running for office,  future mother-in-law knows a little too much about you.



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Lois said...

Hi Shirley,

Good point about future mother-in-laws! You are so accurate in saying that there is a lot of personal information out there for anyone to view. This is different than the WELL discussions and I wonder if you see a benefit from the WELL for society and if you see any benefit at all from social mediums like Facebook that people use today?

I too, know people that post every last detail of their daily life online and it drives me nuts! I think this is where we are charged personally with filtering what we see and read online. I know which friends post what they had for breakfast, lunch and dinner and I simply don’t “follow” them or I block their “feed.” It does make me wonder though why some people are compelled to put it all out there while others are much more selective. What do you think?

// 05/23/2015 at 10:05 pm

Shirley said...

First, thank you for the YouTube… why should we wait? I can think of a lot of reasons. For instance, like so many of our resources in the States, will we one day run out of storage space and have to ask some third world country to store it for us? Don’t tell me we already do that… YIKES!

I think (old school) that people are looking for a connection or approval that they are not getting in their day to day lives. They do not seem to care where it comes from. Loneliness, self-absorbed, boredom or whatever the reason may be I think ones time could be spent so much more productively.
I understand that the are some very valid and beneficial reasons for social media usage but anything can be over done.

My two cents

// 05/23/2015 at 10:36 pm

SarahP said...

Hi Shirley!

I’m one of those “always connected” types of people. Facebook linked to my mobile phone, which is always in my pocket (it’s on vibrate when I’m at work, although I leave it in my bag when I’m at the dance studio). I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m addicted to it, but social media/smartphone-ing are the ways that my family and friends can immediately get a hold of me.

Take for example, when my Grandfather was sick in the ICU, I was able to group chat my cousins that are spread all over the country (some in Richmond, some in the DC area, some in Texas, etc.) and keep everybody up to date on what was going on.

That being said, I do agree that people can sometimes become “cell phone zombies”, in that they are glued to their phones/Facebook/Tumblr/etc. and lose that human interaction. It’s good for us all to unplug and have a nice face-to-face chat to build up that sense of community. :)

// 05/23/2015 at 11:31 pm

Kindall said...

Hi Shirley! Thank you for responding to our group’s prompt!

I agree with you. I especially wonder how people’s children will feel one day knowing that every detail of their lives (embarrassing or not) are all over the internet.

My mother is one of those cyber-helicopter parents, mainly because she feels the need to keep up with the constant posting of her friends. That leads me to a question: Do communities like the WELL and Facebook encourage competition among users?

I remember on instance where I was in a fairly bad car accident in college, but everyone miraculously walked away unharmed. I called my parents to let them know what happened and that I was alright- but I only spoke with my father. The next thing I know, my mom had posted a lengthy paragraph on her Facebook page letting the whole world know I was involved in a bad wreck, but that I was okay.

I remember being so angry that she took that information to social media and that she hadn’t even spoken directly to me about it, but when I confronted her- she genuinely did not understand why it was so wrong.

Maybe we do need to unplug a little and stop documenting every thing our toddlers put in their mouth and what types of dorm accessories we purchased for our college-bound seniors.

I think the over sharing is a problem and I am glad you brought it up.

// 05/26/2015 at 10:01 am