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Jun 1, 2021

On this episode of the Cohere podcast, Bill Johnston and Dr. Lauren Vargas are joined by pioneering community strategist and manager Gail Ann Williams.

Gail watched the dawn of online communities through her participation and eventual leadership position at the WELL - one of the first successful large-scale online communities. Prior to any research studies, consultants or books about online communities Gail was navigating the challenges of community strategy, development, policy, and exploring the business models of community - more or less in real-time.

Gail's journey at the WELL started as a conference manager in 1991, and she helped guide the community through several transformational changes, including an acquisition of the WELL by in 1999. And the eventual repurchase back from by a group of passionate members in 2012.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The founding of the WELL and early community culture
  • How the dawn of the Internet affected the WELL
  • Experimenting with different community business models 
  • How text-based community experiences can be sensory-rich experiences
  • How privacy, even in private forums, can't be assumed
  • How communities still provide a unique environment for compassion and empathy