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The Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link Sold To Its Members

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the well-done dept.

The Internet 36

New submitter nadaou sends this quote from the NY Times: "One of the earliest online communities, The WELL, has a new owner: its members. On Thursday evening, Salon Media Group, the previous owner of The WELL, said it had sold the community to the Well Group, a private investment group consisting of longtime members of the community, which was founded in 1985, long before the rise of the Web."

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Oh no, the people owning themselves? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412033)

What havoc will this cause? Quick, somebody anoint a monarch who shall rule by Divine Right!

For that is the Will of Heaven.

Re:Oh no, the people owning themselves? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412917)

Just so you know, the Divine Right of Kings doctrine is 180 degrees divergent from what both Christianity and Judaism teach. See the Books of Samuel as a reference. Here's the synopsis:

Israelites: We want a king.
God: No way. Kings screw everything up.
Israelites: We still want a king.
God: No way. Kings screw everything up.
Israelites: We still want a king.
God: OK. Here's your king. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Israelites: This king you sent us. He screwed everything up!
God: Oh noes! If only someone let you know ahead of time!

Re:Oh no, the people owning themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414427)

Good thing I wasn't thinking of either religious tradition!

It's actually a tenet of Pastafanian Jedism.

Re:Oh no, the people owning themselves? (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#41413119)

You don’t have to worry – it is not happening here – The kings still rule. I personally find the title misleading.

“Member owned” implies that it is some type of co-op – where customers buy into the company. Like a co-op, a mutual insurance company, or something along these lines.

This is more like Victor Kiam when he bought the Remington razor company – you know the tag line - "I liked it so much I bought the company".

Re:Oh no, the people owning themselves? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#41414753)

'cept it's not like one member bought the company, it is a group. A better comparison might be the Roman patricians of the Senate. Of course, whether this a pre- or post-Augustus Senate is an open question...

WELL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412111)

All's WELL that ends WELL.

Re:WELL... (2)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about 2 years ago | (#41412439)

All's WELL that ends WELL.

That's deep.

Re:WELL... (2)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41412499)

All's WELL that ends WELL.

That's deep.

So who gets the shaft?

Whole Earth Catalog (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41419855)

I still have my complete collection of Whole Earth Catalog and hopefully they will start publishing new edition of this most useful books.

Back to the roots (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41412121)

Slashdot was more than a little influenced by WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link), and today's WELL web interface (there's also a telnet interface) looks more than a little like Slashdot did when it first started.

I for one am proud of my @well.com address, and welcome our new wellpern overlords.

Re:Back to the roots (3, Interesting)

wordsnyc (956034) | about 2 years ago | (#41413685)

I've been a member since ~1994. I drive by about once a week, get into a conversation every few weeks. It's like the general store that somehow survived the mega-mall built next door. Conversations tend to be very sane, with a complete lack of the idiotic noise you get in places like this.

How will the MASSIVE community cope? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412123)

All 2000 of them

Does anything even still happen at The WELL?

Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (4, Funny)

SJ2000 (1128057) | about 2 years ago | (#41412149)

Is someone giving us a less than subtle hint?

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (0)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41412225)

Don't be silly. There's money to be made. This site is a pre-sorted demographic pool for advertisement exploitation. *rolls eyes*

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412291)

Well, I don't know why anyone pays for overt ads on Slashdot. I mean, I assume they are--could either of the users without Adblock confirm?
But the slashvertisements are usually targetted pretty well.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412503)

could either of the users without Adblock confirm?

I think you miss a "two" between "the" and "users".

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41413483)

It is the same story for all forms of advertisement. You have three groups of people, A (the sellers), B (the marketers), and C (the consumers). Group A wants to sell to group C, group B is really just another group A in disguise because they think of group A as C. Group C generally ignores group B because B has nothing to do with A. Group C however will usually listen to A if A has something C wants to buy. Group A thinks they needs group B to tell group C to buy their product because group B promises to sell group A to C and since group B is a group A to the other group A and A is a group C in this case group A will listen to group B. What group A doesn't realize is that group B is ignored by group C because group C only listens to group A.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 2 years ago | (#41412555)

>> This site is a pre-sorted demographic pool for advertisement exploitation.

What do basement-dwelling troglodytes buy anyhow?

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41412661)

What do basement-dwelling troglodytes buy anyhow?

Anything found on its (now formerly) sister site http://www.thinkgeek.com/ [thinkgeek.com] , plus servers, UPSes and pizza.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | about 2 years ago | (#41412799)

The essentials that enable their habitation of said basement. i.e. Cheetos, pizza, energy drinks, microwaves, refrigerators, delivery services, computer hardware, software, pacification gifts for mom, etc.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#41412935)

The purchase price was $20 million, IIRC; hope you know how to make it rain big time.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414833)

The purchase price was $20 million, IIRC; hope you know how to make it rain big time.

Where'd you get that figure?

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415803)

$20M was the price for Geeknet's media holdings, not the WELL.

Re:Wink Wink Nudge Nudge? (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 2 years ago | (#41416649)

That was including SourceForge and FreeCode too. I bet Slashdot isn't worth much compared to SourceForge.

To play imaginary maths- if Slashdot had 10,000 members, and the price was $5,000,000, then that'd be a $500 price tag per person. Still too much, but not crazily out of reach. How many active users do you think Slashdot has these days?

CIX - older and hopefully bigger (4, Informative)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 2 years ago | (#41412287)

In the UK we still have CIX which predates the well a little and hopefully has more than 2000 members but it's a shadow of it's former glory when it counted Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett amongst its regular users.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIX/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:CIX - older and hopefully bigger (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 2 years ago | (#41412313)

Actually, CIX was just after the Well, it's precursor was pre Well. Apols.

Re:CIX - older and hopefully bigger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41412371)

Alternatively, CIX have their own site! [cix.co.uk] . Who would have thought it possible?

Do you think that there might be other things that exist outside of Wikipedia?

Re:CIX - older and hopefully bigger (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41413581)

I remember CIX being announced, with it being made clear in Personal Computer World et al that CIXs inspiration was Byte's BIX network. (Read on before responding it couldn't be because BIX was from 1985, and CIX 1983. CIX did NOT exist in 1983. I'll explain.)

Some sources put CIX at two years older than BIX making the above look... odd. However, those sources kinda confuse the history. CIX was a replacement for an existing FidoNet BBS. The FidoNet BBS that CIX replaced dated to 1983. The replacement, with complete rebranding, occured in 1987. From a "corporate" point of view, it was the same thing, users were migrated, data was, etc. From a technical point of view, it was a completely new system seeded with an existing database.

Re: CIX - older and hopefully bigger (1)

gidds (56397) | about 2 years ago | (#41424113)

It is, however, gaining members and activity again.

After a long period of gentle stagnation, it was acquired a year ago by an internet company with a long experience of Cix and its community, and is now enjoying something of a revival. We're all fairly optimistic about its future again!

(I'm gidds@cix, and spend more time there than here or anywhere else. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for interesting, intelligent, wide-ranging discussion.)

Re: CIX - older and hopefully bigger (1)

gidds (56397) | about 2 years ago | (#41424115)

P.S. I meant to say: I hope the WELL's new ownership brings them similar reason for optimism!

Abandonware (1)

Animats (122034) | about 2 years ago | (#41412943)

I had a Well account back when it was on a VAX/750 and you paid by the hour. But it's been a long time since the Well mattered.

For those who like them some history.... (3, Interesting)

sootman (158191) | about 2 years ago | (#41413463)

Wired, May 1997 - The Epic Saga of The Well [wired.com]

McClure shared an office with someone from the Whole Earth Software Catalog. His computer, a Compaq, sat on a piece of white plywood board; he cadged a stenographer's chair from the Whole Earth office. It was high tech in the middle of funk, and funk wasn't the ideal setting in which to launch a cutting-edge enterprise. The building had no insulation to speak of, and the roof leaked. In the summer the office was an inferno, and in the winter the temperature indoors dipped into the 50s. The computer room, a modified closet, was just big enough for the disk drive and CPU cabinets. A window-mounted air conditioner -- the largest unit Sears sold -- cooled the VAX.

Re:For those who like them some history.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41414461)

> McClure shared an office...

Aha, that's where he ended up after doing that western... I remember him, seemed a good guy! I guess everybody ends up in IT after all...

I loved Bonanza!

Re:For those who like them some history.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41415581)

Sigh... Wired writes (wrote) such great stories, but they were tales and yarns well-retold; always hard to figure what to make of them versus remembered history.

FWIW, Brand put out the Whole Earth Software Catalog just before this tale of the VAX. I remember /quite/ a hellabaloo at the time. Instead of the hippy digs and starvation wages the regular Whole Earth Catalogs were launched out of, Brand rented real offices for the Software folks, and paid the Software staff real salaries. To say the noble hardworking regular Catalog people felt betrayed and fucked-over is understatement.

Yup, that's "just another story", but take it as a caution. The WESC wasn't spawned from quite the same Sausalito mud as the famous catalogs. The retellings tend to gloss that for effect, and this writeup is swinging pretty heavy red flags for me.

WELL... I gues you have to pay to have.... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41413879)

... sane conversations..... Who'd thought? Oh wait... Do I get paid to think?

Some important info missing? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 2 years ago | (#41414359)

Like how much the sale was for, and how many paying members are there?

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