Let's make up an example. Say you're in the school Sea Shell Collectors Club that meets every Tuesday after class. Every Tuesday, 30 kids show up. At the beginning of every meeting, someone stands up and shows a shell that she or he has found. Then everyone gets to ask questions, point out interesting things about the shell or tell how that shell is like shells in their own collection.

Now let's say you join a Sea Shell Collectors club on the Web. Let's say this club "meets" by having a mailing list. A mailing list is a simple idea, which is why there are millions of them. If you want to say something to the club members, you send an email not to a particular person but to the list itself. Its email address might be something like SeaShells@mail_lists.org (I made this example up so don't try it!). Your email gets sent to everyone on the list. If someone wants to reply, she can send it to the list also, and everyone on the list gets that email, too. It's like a meeting of your school's Sea Shell Collectors Club carried on through email.

But look at the differences between the real world club and the mailing list version of it.

Links to Explore

Sea shells

A mailing list for and by kids

Mailing lists for kids



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This is a children's version of David Weinberger's book
Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web.
copyright © 2002 David Weinberger