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From Counterculture to Cyberculture
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From Counterculture to Cyberculture

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  24 reviews
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 1990s-and the dawn of the Internet-computers started to represent a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the ...more
Unknown Binding, 339 pages
Published October 15th 2010 by Not Avail (first published September 2006)
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Streator Johnson
A Little to academically dry for my tastes, but an interesting book nonetheless. It basically argues that the counterculture ethos of the the 1960's had a profound affect on the libertarian formation of what has come to be called cyberspace. Told in a historical manner with a careful agenda, it is often makes for a fascinating read. But unfortunately, it also gets so caught up in its own brilliance that one gets so frustrated they want to throw the book across the room. Recommended mostly for mo ...more
This book shed light on how the many threads of contemporary cyberculture interrelate. It's no accident that there is a loose affinity between the EFF, Wired, and Burning Man. Now I know why.
Eli Weinstein
This is history at its best. If you've ever been at all curious about the roots of modern Silicon Valley culture - its utopianism, its corporate organization, its ideals - this book will explain all that and more, in remarkably engaging prose for an academic text. Turner provides a convincing narrative for some of the strangest transformations in modern American culture: the influence of the Merry Pranksters on Newt Gingrich, the connections between cybernetics and the hippies. He retains carefu ...more
David Mayes
Apr 17, 2014 David Mayes is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
As a life-long student of communication, I somehow missed this one by Fred Turner at Stanford. I personally experienced my own transformation from countercultural grad student in San Jose, to Intel executive in Silicon Valley. This chronicle of how a great countercultural icon like Stewart Brand could morph into the father of digital utopianism, following in the footsteps of Marshall McLuhan is a fascinating trip down memory lane for me. Digital utopiansim continues to morph with the rise of the ...more
I initially picked this book since it discusses many events that were part of my life as well -- from the Summer of Love in SF to working for the government on classified computer projects. I always loved the Whole Earth Catalogs and didn't know exactly why. It answered many personal questions I had.

What I found most amazing about the book, however, is the naivety of otherwise intelligent and foresighted people of what the Internet was and would become. In the heady days of the Clinton Administr
If you ever listen to people with advanced degrees in English, you'll hear things like "narrative context", "semiotics", and "the rhetoric of making a difference." For the most part, it's all crap. This book is written by a guy with an advanced degree in English, yet it is completely readable and shows how things like narrative context can lose the scare quotes and actually be important to the way our world develops.

That said, you should have a strong interest in either the counterculture moveme
This well-written, well-researched book was disappointing to me. Stewart Brand clearly forged important links between the counterculturalism of the 1960s and the libertarian, cyber networks of our time, but Turner fails to make a case for his lasting importance or to demonstrate that our contemporary digital culture would have been significantly different if Brand had never existed. Was Brand a cause or an effect of larger social processes? Turner doesn’t say. Instead, he just chronicle’s Brand’ ...more
Bastian Greshake
Pretty interesting summary of how many of the household names of cyberculture got to fame and power. And most of the critique regarding journalistic ethics and libertarianism is also spot on. The writing tends to be a bit dry & repetitive at times, but if you're interested in the history of net culture it's definitely worth a read.
Jeffrey Hart
This is an important book about the culture that existed during the early years of the PC revolution and the creation of the Internet. The focus is on Stewart Brand and his circle, but it branches out a bit to consider the ideas of Norbert Wiener and other theorists. I found the prose to be a bit windy, but the overall message is sound and there is nothing else out there that really addresses these issues in a serious way.
A bit dull, but well worth reading. It's one of those books that really helps clarify where we are and how we got here. It answers a question that I hadn't thought to ask: How did the culture of computing become so closely allied with a self-contradictory mix of anti-authoritarian politics and communitarian ethos, after being identified with the military and large corporations in the 1950s and 1960s?
Kenny Cranford
I really wanted this book to be better but it just wasn't there. Author writes like a doctoral student and it was a hard book to finish. Very dry which was surprising given the subject. Contained some great anecdotes but overall was very repetitive. A good biography of Stewart Brand would have been much more effective.
From Counterculture to Cyberculture theorizes that a group of long-bearded; LSD travelers; free lover hippies are the pre-history of the current culture that underlies all those pads; texting and sort of individualistic devices that lead our society to be what it is right now.
Andrew Miller
Overall, I appreciated what this book had to offer. It connects us with how the internet, although originally designed as a tool for the military to respond to a nuclear attack, it was interpreted by the counter culture movement as a potential tool to unite society.
Compelling, scholarly analysis of the influence of the West Coast communalist movement of the late 60s/ early 70s on the development of 1990s cyber-optimism. Nearly biographical account specifically of Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog / WELL.
Cybernetics, geodesic domes, the WELL, the start of Wired, and everything else awesome. This book made me briefly consider going to grad school to write its sequel as a dissertation.
Steven Monrad
Stewart Brand, child of the Pentagon, godfather of the the Whole Earth world view, dispassionate account by Stanford professor, or how the digital utopia was designed to exclude most.
Mike Violano
Good bio of Stewart Brand, his band of followers, and the left coast movement that made the Whole Earth catalog and is Wired. A bit dry but worth the trip.
Aug 31, 2008 Weavre marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sorting
Lackawanna: 303.4833 TURNER Valley Community Library Stacks
Author: Turner, Fred
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2006.
ISBN: 0226817415
Dec 04, 2007 John rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: super-geek hippies
Almost five years ago, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. Today, I can't remember anything in particular that made the book stand out. Read once and recycle.
Otis Chandler
Again - elizabeth got this for free at work, sounded interesting - if anyone knows anything about it let me know
Jim Parker
A must read for anyone who is wanted to know how we got to where we are with the Internet.
Fascinating reading. Recommended
Gordon Joly
Centred on the good ole USA.
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Associate Professor
Department of Communication
Stanford University

Director of Stanford’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society
More about Fred Turner...
From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties Echoes Of Combat: Trauma, Memory, and the Vietnam War Escape from Zion: Mormon/Lds Zion Birs Nimrud: Ancient Tower of Babel

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