Perhaps the most important people to thank are all of you – the readers of Ishmael who, starting in 1992 when the first edition of the book was published, responded to Daniel’s invitation and wrote to him at the P.O. box he provided.
These letters were a validation for him that what he had struggled for so many years to put into words was indeed needed. Every Sunday was devoted to answering the letters that poured in from people of all ages and walks of life. These readers told their friends and those friends told their friends; teachers latched onto Ishmael no matter what course they might be teaching; students told their parents. And so on. And so on.
Now there are about 1.7 million copies in print. This means millions more readers, since more often than not, one copy of Ishmael will be read by more than one person. (We were told that one book had been passed around and signed by a hundred people!)
A little bit of website history
Early in 1995, when the world wide web was in its infancy, a rudimentary version of Ishmael.org was created. Later that year, thanks to Alan Thornhill, then a Ph.D. candidate, and his group of volunteers at the University of California-Irvine, a new version was launched and given the name “Ishmael’s Companion,” a title that was carried on through a new design and further growth in 1997. Daniel had this to say at that time: “More than just a book, readers have made Ishmael a phenomenon. I think of Ishmael.org as the unfolding record of this phenomenon.”
Later, with yet another design, the site was called “Ishmael’s Community,” since that’s what it had become, with a Guestbook where people could sign in and interact. Webmaster Alan Thornhill was so impressed with a comment by Sam (Samantha) Hess that he asked if she’d be willing to volunteer as Guestbook monitor. She agreed and served with grace and wisdom for that version of the website and its next incarnation — a design that incorporated The Story of B’s ammonite symbol with the simple title Ishmael.org.
In 2007, Cathy McIntosh was introduced to us by Alan to take over as webmaster. From the beginning, Alan had been Daniel’s friend, colleague, and science adviser, but his own scientific career eventually dictated he turn over webmaster duties to someone else. Cathy took care of the site until this, the latest version, was launched in August 2019.
The previous website was a vital communication tool for many years, a place to where people could find and connect with others interested in the teachings. The Guestbook had more than 11,000 members who could get in touch with each other! Now, with the advent of social media, Ishmael.org no longer maintains a network on its site and instead encourages people to find or create their own Ishmael networks.
This new site is still the repository of most of the material that appeared in the previous incarnations, but we’ve added some exciting new finds – old cassette recordings of interviews, Q&A sessions, and more – all recently unearthed from a box stored away in a closet. They’ve now been translated to Mp3 versions, and we hope you’ll enjoy listening.
New 2019 website
We wanted a new, contemporary website to honor the life work of Daniel Quinn and have his philosophy and teachings easily available for anyone interested in finding out more about the phenomenon of Ishmael.
Back in 2013 Ritama Haaga wrote asking Daniel to sign a copy of Ishmael that she intended to give to her niece. From then on we kept in touch periodically, learning that she was not only an avid reader of Quinn books but also an artist and website developer. So when it was time for a new website design, there was no question about the person to call for help with what turned out to be a more massive undertaking than any of us expected!
Ritama was the designer and project manager for the website, with Pam Nilzon, her business partner and programmer, handling all the unseen technical details that make a website function.
Krist Bender, computer and technical wizard, has kept the Quinn computers up-to-date and functioning since 2006 and has always been just a phone call away when some bizarre glitch occurred. Krist delved into the depths of the outmoded Ishmael website, found missing pages, and helped transfer content to the new WordPress site. He also turned all the new audio material into Mp3, dealt with photographs, and a host of other things, which kept me from going crazy.
Ritama envisioned the gorilla eyes video for the home page, then selected and digitally enhanced the photograph. The blinking animation was done by Coleman Smith, who, when he was first presented with the project said: “I read that book years ago. Great book.” We’re thrilled with the work he did to make Ishmael “come alive”!
Ritama Haaga – Ritama Design
Krist Bender – DataDrive
Many thanks to artist Tim Jacobus for permission to use on our home page his iconic illustration that graces the cover of Ishmael.
Thanks to @ishmael.lords for permission to use his mural painting for the “Inspired” image on the home page.
Finally, my gratitude to Brian Setzler, Howie Richey, Linda Anderson, Sam Hess, Howard Ditkoff, Cathy McIntosh, Krist Bender, and Jae Quinn for being the first viewers in the initial stage of this website and/or supplying advice and counsel as needed.