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Posts tagged ‘Fred Turner’

Nothing New Under the Sun — Including Technology!

Can it be true? Technology is nothing new?

I’m reading a fascinatng book, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Utopianism by Fred Turner


An excellent description from a group at Stanford University:

“In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American 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 1990s—and the dawn of the Internet—computers represented 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.”

Turner’s book, by the way, is very readable, unlike some intellectual tom.

Do I agree with him? Yes and no. Yes, of course when it comes to the parallel between the dramatic and multi-faceted effects used in 60’s entertainment — drugs, strobes, photographs, paintings, and music designed to test stimulate human senses into new realms of perception and creativity. The techno-version is the Internet, aka websites – flashing lights, multi-tasking, hyperlinking, video, photos, music, and — you know the drill.

Where I don’t agree is that the skills required to produce the product are significantly different. In counter cuture, the creation process was still based on linearity — things happened in a sequence as designed and presented by the artists. And, for the most part, each specialty required a specialist — musicians, writers, photographers, and so on. The performance had to happen when it happened, and the audience had no choice about when to participate.

Cyberculture is a lot different. It is spatial – things occur when the user wants them to occur. The user writes the script, not the “artist.” The latter is multi-versed: with the variety of tools at hand he can paint, synchronize music, insert audio and video, and so on — basically offering the user a menu of choices to be tasted in his/her own time and way.

Not finished on this topic, promise….