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From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

         In From Counterculture to Cyberculture Fred Turner details the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer-conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers.

            While tracing the extraordinary transformation of how our networked culture came to be, Turners fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.

       “[Turner] postulates that Brand was an idealistic (albeit Barnum-esque) leader of a merry band of cybernetic pranksters who framed the concept of computers and the Internet with a seemingly nonintuitive twist: These one-time engines of government and big business had transmogrified into a social force associated with egalitarianism, personal empowerment, and the nurturing cocoon of community.”Steven Levy, Bookforum

     “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 uptopia.”Paul Duguid, Times Literary Supplement

Synopsis:

In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American popular imagination. Bleak tools of the cold war, they embodied the rigid organization and mechanical conformity that made the military-industrial complex possible. But by the 1990sand#8212;and the dawn of the Internetand#8212;computers started to represent a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the communal ideals of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled against the cold war establishment in the first place.and#160;

From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the first book to explore this extraordinary and ironic transformation. Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bayand#8211;area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Awardand#8211;winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers.and#160;

Shedding new light on how our networked culture came to be, this fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.

About the Author

Fred Turner is assistant professor in the department of communication at Stanford University. He is the author of Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. The Shifting Politics of the Computational Metaphor

2. Stewart Brand Meets the Cybernetic Counterculture

3. The Whole Earth Catalog as Information Technology

4. Taking the Whole Earth Digital

5. Virtuality and Community on the WELL

6. Networking the New Economy

7. Wired

8. The Triumph of the Network Mode

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226817422
Author:
Turner, Fred
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Social Aspects - General
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Popular Culture - Counter Culture
Subject:
Computers Reference-Social Aspects
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20080531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 halftones
Pages:
354
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Beginning and Reference
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » General
Computers and Internet » Computers Reference » Social Aspects » General
Computers and Internet » Internet » General
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » US History » 20th Century » General
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » Computers

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism Used Trade Paper
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Product details 354 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226817422 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American popular imagination. Bleak tools of the cold war, they embodied the rigid organization and mechanical conformity that made the military-industrial complex possible. But by the 1990sand#8212;and the dawn of the Internetand#8212;computers started to represent a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the communal ideals of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled against the cold war establishment in the first place.and#160;

From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the first book to explore this extraordinary and ironic transformation. Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bayand#8211;area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Awardand#8211;winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and, ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running collaboration between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers.and#160;

Shedding new light on how our networked culture came to be, this fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.

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