Changing Perceptions In Regards To Computers and Technology

// Posted by on 01/20/2014 (11:33 AM)

Stewart Brand

Chapters 1 and 2 of From Counterculture to Cyberculture discusses the early movements towards accepting technology and seeing the vast potential of computers.  As discussed in Chapter 1, a protest was held at the University of California on December 2nd, 1964 where student leader, Mario Savio, gave a poetic speech protesting the notion of students being regarded as machines.  His words expressed the fear students held regarding becoming merely a part of the machine, and expressed how they wanted to be treated as individuals with the freedoms to choose their own path.  In many ways, this student fear of being utilized similar to computational devices was largely due to the military being the most common use for computers at the time.  As a result, there was this concern rising from the younger generation that they themselves would become governmental tools.

However, a large force working to change this perception of computers and technology was the counterculture movement developing throughout the younger generation.  This movement was characterized by drug use and a sense of community.  Communes started to spread across the country, yet were most centralized in San Francisco, CA.  These communes provides locations for individuals to live in harmony, while experimenting with psychedelic drugs such as LSD.  LSD was a drug that many attest made them feel as if they were part of something larger, which made individuals feel more comfortable with the idea of being part of a global community.  Obviously this is much farther down the line, but I want to stress the idea that this acceptance of a global community was a very crucial step in seeing the value of computers and technology.  This level of acceptance marked a change from the periods of protest, such as those at the University of California in 1964, which created a pathway for individuals such as Stewart Brand (pictured above) to push the envelope for this larger, tech-based community.

Stewart Brand played a huge part in this movement primarily by making connections with various individuals on the front-end of the counterculture movement.  He travelled frequently between San Francisco and New York City, making friends everywhere he went in order to extend his network of contacts leading up to the cyberculture movement.  As his network extended, he prepared for the release of the Whole Earth Catalog, which was a magazine pertaining largely to the counterculture and cyberculture movement developing in the United States.  Moving forward, this magazine would serve as a base to grow and develop these movements, as Stewart Brand was able to connect visionaries across the country and allow for collaboration amongst these individuals.  In essence, the counterculture movement and Stewart Brands efforts to expose developing ideas marked the period of changing perceptions in regards to computers and technology.

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