DIGITAL AMERICA

Utopia this way =>

// Posted by on 05/21/2015 (11:06 AM)

This weeks readings reflected on the transitions of The Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was envisioned as a way to bring about a ‘wholeness’ of the earth and all its systems. It resembles an old mail order catalogue, and contained information on how to maintain communes; the necessary tools that would be needed, and offered items such as potters’ wheels. The Catalog transitioned into the WELL, which is described as one of the first online communities. This shift marks a point in the separation of the utopian values from material practice.

Throughout the readings I felt myself rooting for the counterculture ideal of a shared consciousness, despite essentially knowing the anticipated outcome. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, if this ideal had triumphed how different would our lives have been? Would we have achieved utopia? I believe the potential was there. We can achieve so much as a group with a collaborative mindset; thinking about the sharing of knowledge that this counterculture was pursuing leaves me feeling like a great gift was just thrown aside.

The idea of alternative communities of kindred souls that could express themselves and develop and learn equivalent to a homeostat was profound. The belief that machine and man could coevolve to benefit each system, as a whole, was intense and inspiring.  As I was reading this, I was cheering them on and hopeful for their success. It was also interesting to read about the role of women on the WELL and the empowerment they felt as they glided across gender divides.

I don’t believe that the cyberculture revolution was completely unsuccessful in getting their ideal’s across as we do have the Internet. The Internet allows huge numbers of people from all over the planet to communicate and share knowledge. Relevant examples that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. In these realms people seem eager to share what they know and not claim ownership.  This shows that many of the same values of sharing and free information within the online community managed to carry over, and this online utopia is very different from the material practices that inspired it.


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Comments:


Rosatelli said...

Hi Jessie,

I always cheer them on as well, although I know how it all works out–we all do. The Pranksters sued each other once they became famous for rights to book, and everyone else pretty much cased out and closed the door for those who came along later. Yet! Many good things remained, and it’s those little aspects of online communities that really excite! I find their wholehearted belief in what they were doing really inspiring. Today, many of our innovators either go to work on Wall Street, or they develop apps only to sell them to the “big 5″. The transdisciplinary future vision has shrunk dramatically. No one knew whether or not these things would be profitable–people guessed it, eventually, but in the early years, the community came together because they wanted to. We are lucky the foundation of the web was founded on love, as cheesie as that sounds!

// 05/21/2015 at 8:28 pm