SOMEDAY EVERYONE WILL COMMUNICATE this way. Now, only a small number of lucky pioneers do. Me, for instance. Without leaving home, I work 20 hours a month for a company 8,000 miles away in London. I've exchanged detailed (sometimes heartfelt) thoughts with dozens of people I would never have otherwise met - including several distant contributors to this Catalog. There is no more immediate, involving way to initiate a project between a group of far-flung people. Computer networks may make it possible to join the 1990s equivalent of the vibrant cultural life of Paris-in-the-20s through any computer in any small town.
Computer networkers type words into their machines. The words travel across phone lines to other computers, where they appear as private mail or public messages (readable by anyone else with a computer). Many computer networks are like universities without schedules, where members sign in at their own convenience to take part in wide-ranging, overlapping conversations on a variety of topics.
Whole Earth editors became so enamored of computer networks that we started our own - the WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link). Like all such networks, you pay by the minute - in our case, $3/hour plus $8/month plus (if you're not local) $4/hour for national transmission carrier. You pay by credit card. To check in, dial (415) 332-6106 and at the log in prompt, type (in lower case): newuser and press the enter key or carriage return.
If you've ever sat waiting by the mailbox, you should consider this technology. Being on computer networks it is like having new mail show up several times a day.