"If you want to maintain independence in the era of large institutions, you are going to need good tools." So begins Rheingold's introduction to The Millenium Whole Earth Catalog
, a compendium of reviews of books, magazines, tools, software, video- and audiotapes, organizations, and services plus ideas on whole systems, sustainability, community, health, sex, household, family, technology, politics, communications, travel, livelihood, and learning. Items are listed in the catalog if they are deemed: "useful as a tool, relevant to independent education, high-quality or low-cost, and easily available--preferably by mail order." Highly recommended.
The Whole Earth Catalog
and its progeny have been part of American life since the countercultural movements of the sixties. First published in 1968, supplements came out until March 1971's "last supplement." Later in 1971, there was The Last Whole Earth Catalog
, and 1974 ushered in The Updated Last Whole Earth Catalog
and The Whole Earth Epilog
. The 1980s brought several editions of The Next Whole Earth Catalog
and The Whole Earth Software Catalog
. The Essential Whole Earth Catalog
gleaned some of the best of its "tools and ideas" and seemed to end it all. But then 1990 brought Whole Earth Ecolog: The Best of Environmental Tools and Ideas
. All along, Whole Earth Review
, Coevolution Quarterly
, or Whole Earth Software Review
have kept the alternative vision in print.
And now, The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog, "committed to helping people think and act independently." While earlier versions promoted practical information for those going "back to the land," this newest edition includes information for dealing with the world of computers and the virtual community. Editor Rheingold wrote Virtual Reality (Simon & Schuster, 1992) and The Virtual Community (Addison-Wesley, 1993).
In this catalog reviewers evaluate "books, magazines, tools, software, video and audiotapes, organizations, services, and wild ideas." The work's contents are arranged in "domains," such as biodiversity, community, health, sex, political tools, and learning. Each domain covers from a few to 50 or so topics. The communications domain, for example, has pages on writing, language, "zines" (both printed and electronic), desktop audio and video, bulletin board systems, the Internet, and investigative reporting. The Internet section's five pages include a helpful introduction, descriptions of features from E-mail to the World Wide Web, access nodes, and recommended background resources.
The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog is formatted in the same effective style as its forebears. It provides meaty excerpts and commentaries, phone and fax numbers, E-mail and "snail mail" addresses, photos of book covers and computer screens, diagrams, and drawings on its oversize pages. Book reviews, which make up a good bit of the work, usually include an annotation, three or four paragraph-length excerpts, and a picture. Often "other great resources" are noted. While this work includes an eight-page index, many users will browse and follow the frequent cross-references.
The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog will be a welcome addition to the shelves of most public, academic, and high-school libraries. Circulating copies are a must.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.