Was Archipelago the first Facebook?
What is Archipelago? A selection from the original Archipelago Help Manual, September, 1988.
In which the editor attempts to describe his new invention, "Voice Cards", to the original members of Archipelgo.
In which the editor introduces the members of Archipelago to each other and tries to start a few conversations,
including the first installment of a non-linear sci fi thriller, "Crab Creatures".
In which the members write their very first voice cards and the editor repairs bugs and adds new features.
Includes the beginning of the great gender gap debate.
In which the members finally get to talk to each other, asking and answering many questions.
The editor manages to launch before Christmas despite the "Disk Disaster of '88".
Includes a nice essay on the art of programming.
In which the editor is trapped in his cabin for a week by a blizzard and spends the time
adding new voice card features. Includes over a hundred cards, including Roger's first appearance,
several essays from Holly on music theory, and independent reports from two Archipelagoans who met each
other in person for the first time.
In which the editor's heart hits the fan but he still somehow manages to introduce a dozen new features.
Includes two essays by Stuart on poetry and creativity, a rant from the editor about artificial intelligence, and the first picture cards.
In which Holly suddenly gets engaged, the editor's romantic difficulties continue, and the members
discuss cold fusion. Includes an original Tomás sketch inspired by one of Stuart's poems.
In which the editor's heart is finally broken and he goes on a big adventure, touring the West
to visit Archipelagoans in person. Includes a map of the adventure and a moving report from Stuart.
Meanwhile, Holly gets married and Cliff resigns. The crab epic and the gender gap debate both glide to
a halt; the editor starts a new discussion on dreams.
In which the conversation falters and the editor attempts to start many new topics.
Stuart wins a new job and moves to Ohio. Includes the beginning of the Tiananmen Square
debate and one of Archipelago's longest conversation trees, "Friends and Lovers".
In which Suzanne joins the group and asks why the squiggles on a telephone cord keep tightening up.
Paul and the editor reminisce about their childhood plans to rule an empire.
Includes the first installments of The Fiction Project.
In which three members recount their experiences in the '89 San Francisco earthquake,
Suzanne takes up the weighty topic of bowling, Robert takes us south of the border, Tomás leaves the group, Holly returns to reveal that she was married by a garbage man, and Stuart tells everyone to stop whining.
Includes the beginning of a voice card adventure game, the editor's loopy theory of consciousness, tales from dating hell, and plans for Archipelago 2.0.
In which the Archipelagoans close out the '80s by talking about Tolkien and Twain,
Dick and Jane, sex, IQ, creativity, and bowling. Roger proposes that the editor's
mother should choose his wife for him. Includes several adventure-style
personality tests and Stuart's first poem from The Body Bestiary.
In which a nasty flu sweeps through Archipelago and the editor almost dies of pneumonia.
Holly leaves the group (but will return in volume 27). Paul unloads a huge pile of
email from his company's network. Includes an inspired rant against B. F. Skinner,
a girl's view of sex courtesy of D. H. Lawrence,
and another Body Bestiary poem.
In which Drury joins the group and complains of too much sex,
Suzanne endures a snow camping trip,
and Robert describes a fascinating journey to attend the Moscow COMTEK computer conference.
Includes a nice essay on creatures of habit and a lively discussion about
whether or not the artist must suffer.
In which the Suffering Artist debate heats up,
Suzanne tries to change the topic from sex to salad,
and the group creates its one thousandth card.
Includes a fascinating list of animal trivia from the resident veterinarian
and a challenge from the editor to devise a dream vacation.
In which the editor makes a friendly wager with Roger and
the Archipelagoans generate over a hundred cards about vacations, suffering artists, and lettuce.
Includes a scholarly lecture on Lotos-Eaters, more Monkey Boy poetry, and a remarkable essay about an Idaho wedding.
In which the editor finally releases Archipelago 2.0.
One of Suzanne's stories is selected for a prestigious anthology
and Larry announces that he is expecting his first child.
Includes a dissertation on dim sum from Paul,
a dazzling sketch of Jimmy the garbage man from Suzanne,
and more about lettuce from all directions.
In which it is revealed that the true purpose of Archipelago was to increase
the amount of mail in the editor's mailbox.
A debate rages about what personality is and if it can change.
Larry devises a scheme to let the highest bidder in an auction name his child.
Suzanne leaves the group (but will return in volume 28).
The editor discusses his grade school romances, racks up a high score in Crystal Quest,
and invents the "random snippet" feature.
Mr. Wizard builds a calculator in 9 easy steps.
Includes a moving eulogy to one of Larry's closest friends.
In which the members react to the first Gulf War and discuss the dullness of other people.
The editor is outKuttnered by Robert, confesses his failure to solve a mathematical puzzle,
and urges the group to start planning for a millennium New Year's party.
A new member appears, files a single hello card, and is never heard from again.
A psychic makes predictions about 1991
while Larry counts down to the birth of his first child.
And, having finally obtained a modem, the editor predicts the dawn of a new era
without any idea how completely that modem will soon change his life.
In which Larry announces the birth of his daughter, Kristin Nicole,
nominations are made for the first annual voice card competition,
Stuart raises the delicate topic of miscarriages,
Drury asks about naked hot tub etiquette,
and several members recount tales of romance from Central Junior High.
The editor describes a wild night on a new service called America On Line,
lists his 64 favorite books,
publishes a book review which triggers a letter from the book's author,
and attempts to start a serial fiction murder mystery.
Includes a moving lament about the limitations of being a veterinarian,
a marvelous tribute from Stuart about a "genuistic" sculptor friend,
and a classic rant from the editor on the fiendish design of tax forms.
In which the editor unexpectedly falls in love, proposes, takes an early honeymoon,
buys wedding rings, and packs up command central for good.
Larry describes the birth of his daughter, discloses previous miscarriages,
and trades baby calming techniques with the editor's fiancé.
Stuart and the editor talk candidly about best friends and best men.
Yumi joins the group and recounts her Japanese ancestry.
Stuart explicates the Theater of the Absurd and gets carried away with the Orchid, the Ostrich, and the letter O
while Roger conducts a survey on housework.
Meanwhile the members daydream about taking a cruise, write four responses to the murder mystery,
and list their favorite voice cards, their favorite books and their animal roommates.
Includes two book reviews, Mr. Wizard's starmap,
and a complete transcript of the editor's first date with his future wife.
In which command central is relocated to southern California, Yumi follows her boyfriend to Seattle,
and Paul is reassigned as a computer consultant to the Mormons.
The members reveal their true dedication to housework and argue about whether or not to vote.
In revenge for the editor's saccharine ramblings, Yumi and Drury both describe how they found love.
Yumi provides a moving portrait of Drury's behind the scenes struggle to save the life of a bird.
Drury's life is upended when her significant other discovers he has a brain tumor.
The editor mourns the passing of another pet and describes his first apartment with Betsy.
Includes two poems from Stuart, the care and feeding of box turtles, and the original publication of "A Table and Four Chairs".
In which the members of Archipelago struggle with change and loss.
Janine joins the group, moves to San Francisco, and moves again;
her two cats break their legs jumping out a second story window.
Another new member writes a single hello card and is never heard from again.
When the editor's fiancé loses her job, command central relocates to northern Califonia;
the couple moves in with Roger and the editor gets a job as a Kelly Girl.
Roger starts a long conversation about conspiracy theories.
Yumi moves all her belongings to Seattle and struggles through many lonely misadventures.
The members discuss their family backgrounds, parental baggage, lost friends,
and the Clarence Thomas hearings.
Includes Stuart's moving tribute to his late friend Jackie.
In which command central moves again,
the editor devises mazes, puzzles and wedding plans,
and members nominate the best voice cards of 1991.
Janine's PBD Losers Club triggers a discussion about underemployment and workplace environments.
Roger asks for some "good simple recipes".
Larry documents his life with a toddler, Janine and Drury talk about cats,
and Yumi and Roger reveal how they found love.
Includes three book reviews and a powerful music review.
In which voice card storms brew over intelligent workplaces and the Rodney King trial
while Archipelagoans past and present gather for a wedding shower.
Robert reports back from his photo shoot in Central America.
Drury recounts a collision between several cars and her house.
Paul launches the long-running Bird Woman serial fiction saga.
Janine mourns the suicide of a close friend.
Includes the editor's last card as a single man.
In which the editor is married and the wedding is documented from various points of view.
Stuart provides playful answers to the previous issue's "stumper" puzzle.
Roger is heartbroken by the withdrawal of Ross Perot from the presidential race.
And lively debate continues on the topics of conspiracy theories, the workplace,
health care and the AMA, term limits, Macs vs. PCs, mental health, Rodney King,
baby boomers, and the relative idiocy of past vice presidents.
Includes poetry, book reviews, an essay on skating, and
the first installment of the editor's five-part "dream job" exposé.
In which Paul and Larry exchange Lemon Chicken recipes,
Roger offers a modest proposal to the newly-elected Bill Clinton,
Yumi decides to become a teacher,
Larry shares a thought-provoking speech on public education,
the editor admits to a weakness for Solitaire,
Stuart remembers his high school English teacher,
and Janine learns that her father has cancer.
Includes four more Bestiary poems and the syllabus for a course on American Jewish Literature.
In which Holly returns to Archipelago, the editor returns to Hell,
Janine and Drury each witness a robbery,
and Paul imports 13 thousand words of text, triggering a call for more originality from the editor
and the start of one of Archipelago's most revealing conversation trees.
Larry starts a conversation about Barney the dinosaur
and Holly restarts a conversation about bowling.
Paul opens a photography exhibit in a central Utah art gallery
and asks the editor and his wife to supply newspaper bios.
Larry shares his daughter's first voice card and news of a second child on the way.
Includes poetry, a book review, the complete collection of Archipelago art,
and nominations for the 1992 Golden Seagull Awards.
In which Suzanne returns to Archipelago,
Janine loses her father,
Yumi breaks off her engagement,
and Mr. Wizard launches a Solitaire research project.
Holly offers an army wife's view of war and peace.
The editor defends Ludwig the Mad and spots dinosaurs on Solano Street.
Includes the final installment of Stuart's Body Bestiary Poems,
a letter to a 13-year boy about Tom Bombadil,
and a letter from the editor's father about a one-room schoolhouse graduation ceremony.
In which Larry's son is born,
Suzanne travels to Africa,
Paul loses his glasses in a kayak off Vancouver,
the group makes dramatic strides in Solitaire research,
Holly introduces her son Josh,
Suzanne deconstructs deconstructionism,
and the editor challenges Archipelagoans to name their twenty favorite words.
When Roger confesses his fear of writing voice cards,
the editor explains why he never met a voice card he didn't like.
Includes a prose poem about aliens in a cemetery,
a book review written for Wired Magazine,
the final installment of the job hell (dream job) saga,
and what turned out to be the final rollicking installment of the bird woman saga.
In which the campaign to bare Paul's soul heats up,
Yumi seeks advice after her fiancee breaks off their engagement,
Suzanne moves out after her relationship breaks up,
the editor mourns the passing of his cat,
Holly tells roommate stories,
and Paul asks Suzanne for a date.
As the number of online Archipelagoans increases to five,
Roger and Janine debate a zero privacy society
and the editor predicts a bright future for the Newton.
Includes a half dozen alphabet poems,
three book reviews,
and an essay from the editor on "Sluts I Have Known".
Suzanne proposes printing stories on ice cream cones,
Roger proposes a license for drinking alchohol,
Drury ponders the experience of death after euthanizing her cockatiel,
Janine reveals her dark side,
the Archipelagoans debate California's "Three Strikes" law,
Roger starts another discussion on creative dreaming,
and the editor and his wife experience 15 seconds of fame.
Includes essays from the editor on turning 36,
cyberspace collaboration, software secrets, computer cables,
telecommuting, and virtual reality circa 1994.
In which Larry and Yumi withdraw from the group,
Suzanne struggles with the death of her father,
Drury finally quits her job,
Janine changes her job,
Paul is laid off from his job,
and the editor lands his very first (full-time) job.
Meanwhile Stuart challenges the group to a haiku contest,
Roger rants about the conspiracy against O.J. Simpson,
and the editor reflects on his long friendship with Paul.
Includes nominations for the 1993 Golden Seagull Awards,
children story recommendations,
and an essay on dreaming.
In which, after a golden reunion on Mount Tam,
a dark wind blows throughout Archipelago.
The Republicans seize power,
Drury becomes entangled in an ironic legal dispute,
the editor unexpectedly buys a house and prepares to move command central,
Suzanne breaks a bone while traveling in France,
Janine loses her job,
Stuart is forced to cope with the sudden dissolution of his 14-year marriage
after his wife leaves him for another woman,
and Paul is diagnosed with throat cancer, sells his Mac, and moves,
jobless and without health insurance, to Seattle for an intensive year of chemotherapy.
In response the Archipelagoans produce their finest - and final - crop of voice cards.
Includes gallant cards from Paul and Stuart,
Holly's hilarious romp to an erotic video store,
a poem, "After Surgery", by Paul's sister,
Suzanne's intriguing character study of a mad neighbor,
the editor's reflections upon flying a plane for the first time,
a letter from Archipelago's foreign correspondent in Taipei,
Stuart's reflections on handling the death of his father,
the editor's advice to Holly's son on handling bullies and butterflies,
some bad haiku, much ado about bowling shirts,
and a final book review.
An index to all the book reviews written by Archipelago members.
An index to all the Mr. Wizard cards.
By April of 1995 only a few members had turned in their cards and it was clear that Archipelago was
finally grinding to a halt. In one of the last voice cards ever written (and never seen by the other
Archipelagoans), Stuart lamented the passing of this strange creation.
Volume 34, Stuart Card Number 4, Mon, Apr 10, 1995:
Well it's April, the time for the cruellest month, for pilgrims to wend their way to Cantebury, and
for Stuart to reflect briefly on . . . I don't know what, and I should give a context here - most of us petering out in our Archipelago responses so that this issue is rotting on the docks of its voyaging for want of participants, both sailors and passagers, so that John is thinking of putting Archipelago in dry dock for the long haul, the big sleep, the deep moth ball, so to speak (excuse the over writing).
And I'm sitting here, finally finishing my reading of Suzanne's marvelous voice cards about psychotics in her neighborhood and such, just delightfully delving into this lastest issue of Archipelago that was due three (four?) months ago, knowing I have no right, given my hopeless, tawdry tardiness, to comment on this matter, and I'm thinking, "Boy, if this lovely, flapping contraption of Archipelago is put to sleep, I'm afraid that I shall dearly miss it."
I know Tio Juan has gotten angry, then heart sick, then crazy sad, then ... at our slow response times, then finally slipping into a sort of lethargy of resignation, of shrugging his shoulders accepting what may be the inevitible, that it's the end of this thing called Archipelago. I know he has put mighty labors into this thing. I know that now his life has moved on - off the lonely Montana mountain to a life of marriage with a marvelous woman, a full time job (at last), a mortgage and all the other adult things we do that we end up (or begin up) calling a life.
So I know that maybe we are evolving to the next thing, whatever that is, but I for one will dearly miss this place, this field of play where our hearts and spirits meet a few times a year to gad about and sport, this Archipelago. I hope it doesn't go quietly.