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

Fred Turner

book – University Of Chicago Press – ISBN 0226817415
The necessity of putting historical facts on paper concerns the need of having a first hand review of recent events with a contemporary perspective and also the need to fix them, before the long term memory begin to fault. Furthermore researching connections on recent facts benefits from the availability of protagonists and their precious personal documentation. In this case the central figure of Stewart Brand is the supporting axis for the whole transition of IT technology perception in U.S., from a tool in the hand of power class to a tool for pursuing freedom of speech. His impressive work, based on what the author defines as ‘network forums’, was the creation and interconnection of communities, businesses and technologies. It’s not by accident then that after a decade of Whole Earth Review publication and the creation of the WELL seminal bbs, a well determined lobby (Brand himself, John Perry Barlow, Esther Dyson, Kevin Kelly and a few others) was consulting the U.S. Congress and WTO as well as helping to shape the public imaginary through Wired magazine articles. Cyberculture utopias (American style) seemed a thrilling natural evolution from the sixities, then intertwined with an entrepreneurial spirit and business strategies, even if soaked in innovation. The books is a very accurate research that highlights genial and visionary practices of a generation rooted in the sixties that spread the network concept with its entire set of contradictions.