Electric Dreams

A Brief History of the Electric Dreams DreamWheel 

Richard Catlett Wilkerson


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  Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (2000 April) A Brief History of the Electric Dreams DreamWheel. Electric Dreams 7(4). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Note: Please also see the Electric Dreams DreamWheel Instructions by Kathy Turner and Richard Wilkerson.

The Electric Dreams community started as a dream group whose members originally met on the Usenet newsgroup alt.dreams in early 1994. The group formed to see if they could deepen the responses to dreams via e-mail, as the alt.dreams format seemed to get stuck at more superficial levels of interaction.

The original Electric Dreams group sent dreams in to an editor who compiled them and send them out with any comments from previous dreams every couple of weeks. For a few months this was fun and created a core community, but over time people wanted to share more recent dreams and discuss them more quickly.

I started the DreamCircle (1995) as a way to speed up the dream/comment time for the Electric Dreams community. We tried some round robins and other methods, then used the CC: field to create the feel of a mail list. That was Jay Vinton's suggestion. Since it went out in spokes, but turned, I named it the DreamWheel.

I set up a mail list (listserv/majordomo) in 1996 through IGC, the Institute for Global Communications. We used a variation on a technique developed by John Herbert, Ph.D. for dream sharing on AOL SeniorNet bulletin boards. The technique the wheel uses now is very similar to John's, though we are often looser with its application and tend to exaggerate the question period. John feels this makes it harder for other in the group to give "...if this were my dream." comments. But we have found that people really, really, *like* to answer the questions and get that kind of attention for parts of the psyche so often neglected.

To make the Wheel acceptable to the Association for the Study of Dreams, Sarah Richards implemented a change from "If this were my dream..." to "In my respondent dream..." to avoid the issues with the techniques being claimed by Montague Ullman. It was reported that Ullman was unhappy that John Herbert claimed to be using his technique, as it didn't include many elements of the original process, some of which Ullman felt were essential, such as the emotional work. Still, "If this were my dream..." is a phrase so many people use, and though perhaps differently, it immediately signals to many the general idea of what's happening. John and I both prefer to take this one step further and directly or indirectly say "In my dream..." to continue the notion that we are not giving the dreamer advice and taking our own personal journey. Sometimes "if this were my dream..." gets unconsciously translated into "If I were you..." rather than "When I pretend it really is *my* dream and about *my* life." which was the intention we want to get at. However, I am also looser about group process and only *suggest* this way when I moderate groups. I prefer new participants at least try it out.

Anyway, to further make the DreamWheel acceptable to ASD, Jayne Gackenbach wrote up a questionnaire that was given out at the end of each series of dreams.

We used to do five or six dreams, then call it quits, unsubscribe everyone and start over. This make people actively take a part in staying with the Wheel, and make it a more intimate group. At the end of each series the questionnaire would be given out to make sure the moderator had not become a tyrant and everyone was heard if the process didn't allow for various important expressions or ideas. But eventually the Wheel became permanent or continuous, and we accepted lurkers like the elders that hang out at the edge of a village, rarely participating unless they see something troubling. Since the Wheel was continual, it became hard to know when to put out the questionnaire. I still would like to include it as an option once every month or two instead of our haphazard samplings.

We often took turns being moderators in the beginning, but it takes a lot more work than you might imagine, so finally I was the only one left from the original group. Eventually Chris Hicks volunteered during one of our madhouse-DreamWheel fests. Sometimes we would have several wheels and sub-wheels going at the same time. Chris was very attentive and eventually moderated the main wheel for a year or so. We have had about three other moderators since then, and I fill in the gaps. Now the two groups have some of the finest moderators the wheel has every had, Kathy Turner <kathyturner@bigpond.com> for the main DreamWheel and Phyllis Howing <pthowing@earthlink.net> for eDreams.

Also, participants have gone on to create their own DreamWheels and some in other venues and languages. Roger Ripert, for example, has a IRC gathering on the first Thursday of each month for people who speak French. Visitors, like Jay Belbo have visited the groups and initiated special dreamwork projects.

Once a year, we get the permission of one of the groups to publish the transcripts. The intention is for others to see the process and be able to learn and use it themselves.

Here are a few other places where the story is told differently:

Wilkerson, Richard (1999). The Origins of the Electric Dreams Community: Part I
Electric Dreams 6(11), http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed-backissues/

Wilkerson, Richard Catlett (Winter, 1997). A History of Dream Sharing in Cyberspace - Part I The Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter 14(1).

A History of DreamSharing in Cyberspace

Wilkerson, R. & Herbert, J. (1995). John Herbert and the Internet Group Dreamwork . Electric Dreams 2(6), www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed-backissues/

Look for 1995, Electric Dreams volume 2 issue #6

Herbert, J.W.(1991) "Human Science Research Methods in Studying Dreamwork: Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Computer Dream Work Groups" Unpublished Manuscript, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco, http://users.aol.com/john0417/HuSci/Greet.html (25 Nov.1996)

Herbert, J. W. (1991). "Notes on the creation of alt.dreams." In "Human Science Research Methods.. (see above) http://users.aol.com/john0417/HuSci/Greet.html (28 Oct. 1996)

Herbert, John (1996). The Founding of alt.dreams Some historical cyber-dreaming notes. Electric Dreams 3(9). http://www.dreamgate.com/dream/ed-articles/ed3-9her.htm (Oct. 1996)

Herbert, J.W. (1991) "Human Science Research Methods in Studying Dreamwork: Qualitative
and Quantitative Analysis of Face-to-Face and Computer Dream Work Groups" Unpublished
Manuscript, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco, (pps 155-157).

Wilkerson, Richard C. (1995). "Dream Circles: A Sample Session of Dream Sharing using E-mail Round Robin.". Electric Dreams. http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/~mettw/edreams/circle (28 Nov. 1996)

Wilkerson, R. & Hicks, C. (1996). "Dreamwheels: a Sample Session of Dream Sharing Using Mail List Formats." http://www.dreamgate.com/asd-13/2lb12.htm (28 Nov. 1996)

Gackenbach, Jayne (1996). Unlocking the Secrets of your Dreams. Grant MacEwan Community College. http://www.outreach.org/dreams/ (25 Oct. 1996)

Wilkerson, Richard C. (1996). From Ancient Thrace to Cyberspace: The History & Practice of Dream Sharing. DreamGate Classes. http://www.dreamgate.com/class (28 Nov. 1996)

Wilkerson, Richard C. (1999). The History of Dream Sharing: Theory, Techniques and Cyberspace. San Francisco, CA: DreamGate Publishing.

Spivok, Lars (1999).Interview: Electric Dreams Interviews Richard Wilkerson about his new CDRom, _A Brief History of Dream Sharing_.

Sample Session - John Herbert

Sample Session - Electric Dreams Dream Wheel

Sample Session - Electric Dreams Dream Wheel