The best way to grasp the subtleties of voice card communication is to follow a typical card from its inception. Imagine, then, that volume 23 has just arrived in your mailbox and upon browsing through the cards you discover one card, say Paul Card Number 5, that contains a highly provocative remark. Incensed, you slam the mouse against the RESPOND button and create a new voice card entitled "Another Viewpoint."
When the blank card first appears on the screen you notice a downward pointing arrow in the first gray box beneath the text field, the unmistakable mark of a response card. The gray title bar at the top of the card proclaims "Another Viewpoint" and next to that is your very own icon. The masthead bears the inscription "Voice Card - Volume 24" followed by your name, "Card Number 1", the date, and the time. The text field already holds one sentence: "This is a response to Volume 23, Paul Card Number 5 (A Provocative Remark)..." Without a moment's hesitation you add a second sentence, then a third, and soon your little card is bursting at the seams.
Satisfied at last, you push the down arrow, zip back to Paul's provocative card, push the forward arrow, and continue browsing.
Several days pass and now it is time to return your mailer. By now the initially empty "My Contributions" stack contains a wild assortment of book review cards, new desert island quiz results, one or two HPL cards, and a host of voice cards including "Another Viewpoint." After glancing over the Archipelago checklist screen you push the Quit button, erase the transit disk, drag the "My Contributions" stack onto the disk, and slip it in the mailer.
Several days later a rickety postal truck wheezes its way up to the Continental Divide and stuffs your mailer (along with several others) into my Canyon Creek Mailbox. With a shout of glee I thrust your transit disk into my machine and fire up a program called HARVESTER.
Harvester slices and dices your "My Contributions" stack, and does strange and wonderful things to each and every card. When it sees your Voice Card Number 1, it immediately appends it to the rapidly growing "Voices 24" stack. Since this happens to be a response card, Harvester performs some delicate surgery on the card (adding, a pair of hand buttons and rewording your first sentence) and then takes a side trip back into volume 23 and performs more surgery on good ole Paul Card Number 5. The grinding and clanking continues far into the night.
More time passes and at last the 24th issue of Archipelago is ready to hit the streets. Ten copies of this issue go winging around the country and one of them lands on your doorstep.
With all the grace and ease of an Archipelago veteran, you pop the disk into your machine and transfer its contents into the Archipelago folder on your hard disk. Among the files transferred are "Voices 23" and "Voices 24." Of course, the new Voices 23 stack obliterates the old copy of Voices 23 as last month's Voices stack becomes this month's Echoes stack. You are tingling with anticipation as you click on the new copy of the Archipelago stack and sit through the now familiar seagull screen.
You are curious to see if anyone else responded to Paul's provocative remark, so you push the ECHOES button on the main screen and soon find yourself staring at the index card of volume 23. You click on the appropriate line in the index and there it is: Paul Card Number 5.
The card has changed since you saw it last. For one thing, its RESPOND and NEW CARD buttons have been stripped off. And more than half of the 12 reply boxes are now occupied by various member icons - including yours. A total of seven members responded to this card!
With a trembling finger you push your own icon which is sitting patiently in the third reply box. Instantly you are whisked into the center of the new volume 24 to your very own Card Number 1 "Another Viewpoint."
This card has also matured in the intervening weeks. The first sentence now reads "This is ONE OF SEVEN responses to Volume 23, Paul Card Number 5 (A Provocative Remark)..." and on either side of the down arrow is a pointing hand button. By pushing the pointing hands you can move back and forth through all seven responses. One of the seven responses, Volume 24 Stuart Card Number 14, is simply outrageous. Incensed, you slam the mouse against the RESPOND button and the cycle begins again!