In chapter 5 “Virtuality and Community on the WELL” Turner argues that Stewart Brand “lay down boundary conditions for a self-governing system”.
In this chapter, Turner talks about WELL (Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link). It was one of the most influential computer network, founded by Stewart Brand in 1985. The WELL was a “teleconferencing system within which subscribers could dial up a central computer and type messages to one another in either asynchronous or real-time conversation”. So basically it is similar what we use now in our every day routine on the Internet. Stewart Brand was serving to place boundary conditions for a self-governing system, “he was working to establish a forum in which individuals could express themselves and form an alternative community of kindred souls”. He assumed a self-governing system, which worked by been comprehensive. He thought that it would be great if people could share and discuss any type of information with one another and communicate a soon as they wanted too. At the end users had control of almost everything.
The Whole Earth Catalog became a model for WELL. WELL was more comfortable than Whole Earth Catalog which was published only a few times a year. And access to the information was much more easier that from Whole Earth Catalog. Participants or members of WELL were journalist and hacking community. “WELL became the place to exchange the information and build the social network on which their employment depended”.
Later on users had to pay money to be able to participate. Stewart Brand was worried that if WELL cost nothing than the rap dominators would be able to take over, so he invested a subscription fee. “As a result, he decided to charge users eight dollar subscription fee and two dollars per hour to log in – far less than the twenty five dollars per hour of use that other systems were charging at the time. Subscription was a model of pay for free seeing information that really worked. At that rate people could forget they were WELL members and not be stricken when they noticed their bill six months later. Often it would revive their interest in getting their money’s worth”.