From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism Illustrated Edition
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“Fred Turner’s richly detailed history of how the alliance between the counterculture and digirati was formed is a fascinating story demonstrating that the computer’s metaphoric implications are never simply the result of the technology itself. Engrossing, deeply researched, and rich with implications, From Counterculture to Cyberculture is highly recommended for anyone interested in how technological objects attain meaning within social and historical contexts.”
“Chapter by chapter, Fred Turner shows inventively and with a deep knowledge of the whole scene how cold war technology met hippie communalism to produce the Whole Earth Catalog, WELL, Wired, and everything that followed. This book is a tour de force of historical digging, sociological analysis, and full understanding.”
“Turner convincingly portrays a cadre of journalists who strove to transform the idea of the computer from a threat during the Cold War into a means of achieving personal freedom in an emerging digital utopia.”
About the Author
- Publisher : University of Chicago Press; Illustrated edition (May 15, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 327 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0226817423
- ISBN-13 : 978-0226817422
- Item Weight : 1.14 pounds
- Dimensions : 8.96 x 6.45 x 0.76 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #105,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Mr. Turner contends that the U.S. scientific/military/academic complex of the 1940s-1960s fostered radically new, collaborative work structures characterized by collegiality and the free sharing of information. While the New Left was repelled by this system and what it regarded to be its instruments of empire, Mr. Turner demonstrates that Cold War technology held great appeal to many of the New Communards of the 1960s, who had withdrawn from the political in order develop consciousness within music, drugs and alternative living arrangements. To key persons within the New Communard movement, it was felt that technology could play a key role in the task of empowering individuals to transform themselves and their world.
In particular, Mr. Turner focuses on the remarkable career of Stewart Brand to tell his story. Mr. Turner discusses how Brand personified the anxieties and aspirations of his generation but importantly, recognized the value of collaboration as a key life strategy and aimed to repurpose technology for the benefit of society. Mr. Turner follows Brand through the various phases of his life, including stints as a member of the LSD-dropping Merry Pranksters, an enterpreneur who published the Whole Earth Catalog, independent writer, organizer of computer conferences, developer of the WELL bulletin board/email system, and tech industry consultant to demonstrate how the personal and professional networks that Brand had a part in building have profoundly impacted our attitudes and perceptions about computing technology. Specifically, Mr. Turner argues that the notion of personal computing as a tool for achieving liberation and the Internet as a platform for constructing egalitarian communities were rooted in the countercultural values that Brand, and others within his circle, embraced.
Mr. Turner goes on to discuss how the so-called New Economy of the 1990s reveled in the libertarian rhetoric that echoed the apolitical logic of the New Communards, who had returned from the failed communes of the 1970s to seek redemption within corporate America through the construction of an immaterial economy of seemingly endless possibility. Assessing the limitations of ideology to achieve lasting reform both then and now, Mr. Turner suggests that the cyberculturalist task of building a truly egalitarian society will remain problematic as long as its members remain alienated from the material world.
I give this brilliant and thoroughly engrossing work the highest possible rating and recommend it to everyone.
It may devolve into `professor-speak' at times but it is well worth it. If you want to know about one of the critical components of both the `counter culture' of the 60's and the internet revolution of the 90's this is a must read.
By Beau Gunderson on January 27, 2021
I'd recommend the book to undergraduates and graduate students that want to become better educated in today's new technological revolution, especially in Computer Science fields.