By Fred Turner
Within the early Sixties, pcs haunted the yank renowned mind's eye. Bleak instruments of the chilly battle, they embodied the inflexible association and mechanical conformity that made the military-industrial complicated attainable. yet by way of the 1990s—and the sunrise of the Internet—computers began to characterize a truly varied type of global: a collaborative and electronic utopia modeled at the communal beliefs of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled opposed to the chilly battle institution within the first place.
From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the 1st booklet to discover this awesome and ironic transformation. Fred Turner right here lines the formerly untold tale of a hugely influential crew of San Francisco Bay–area marketers: Stewart model and the Whole Earth community. among 1968 and 1998, through such standard venues because the nationwide ebook Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the pc conferencing procedure often called good, and, finally, the release of the wildly winning Wired journal, model and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration among San Francisco flower energy and the rising technological hub of Silicon Valley. because of their imaginative and prescient, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined jointly to reimagine desktops as instruments for private liberation, the development of digital and decidedly substitute groups, and the exploration of daring new social frontiers.
Shedding new mild on how our networked tradition got here to be, this attention-grabbing publication reminds us that the gap among the thankful lifeless and Google, among Ken Kesey and the pc itself, isn't really as nice as we would think.
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Extra resources for From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism
Given the many pages they devoted to analyzing complex mathematical formulas, Cybernetics and The Mathematical Theory of Communication would not seem to be likely candidates for popular acclaim. Yet, in an America that had recently defeated Nazi Germany and Hirohito’s Japan and invented a weapon that could eradicate life on earth, the computational metaphor that underlay these books gave voice to two issues then much in the public eye: the sudden importance of science and its ambiguous social potential.
55 As they created the military-industrial-academic infrastructure out of which individualized and networked computing would emerge, these engineers, along with their colleagues on the ICBM and Polaris projects and on dozens of other military command-and-control system development projects, brought with them not only a habit of entrepreneurship and interdisciplinary collaboration, but also the discourse of cybernetics and systems theory and the computational metaphor on which it depended. Even as they built the large military research projects and the massive weapons that would come to symbolize cold war technocracy, the researchers of SAGE and later projects carried forward a collaborative style and a rhetoric of collaboration born in the weapons laboratories of World War II.
For the New Left, movement politics offered a way to tear down that bureaucracy and simultaneously to experience the intimacy of shared commitment and the possibility of an emotionally committed adulthood. For the New Communalists, in contrast, and for much of the broader counterculture, cybernetics and systems theory offered an ideological alternative. Like Norbert Wiener two decades earlier, many in the counterculture saw in cybernetics a vision of a world built not around vertical hierarchies and top-down ﬂows of power, but around looping circuits of energy and information.