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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,… Read more

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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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Technology: Rebuttal to Turkles “Alone Together”

// Posted by on 04/13/2014 (11:52 PM)

The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton… Read more

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The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton decided to recreate an old experiment conducted in the 1960s and 70’s  (by sociologist, William Whyte) in which he examined how people used and interacted in public settings. Using hidden cameras, Whyte filmed people gathering in public spaces, observed how they behaved, where they migrated to, how long their conversations lasted etc. Using this experiment as a point of comparison, Hampton observed how people communicated within a public space in contemporary society, as we are in the midst of a “communication revolution”. Hampton’s research challenged the widespread concept that today we are overly “plugged in” and completely engrossed in technology at the expense of face-to-face communication. Using 38 hours of comparable film footage, Hampton’s research found that only “10% of modern adults were seen to be using their phones, while actual face-to-face communications and meetings were up significantly”, further “People on the phone were not ignoring lunch partners or interrupting strolls with their lovers; rather, phone use seemed to be a way to pass the time while waiting to meet up with someone, or unwinding during a solo lunch break,” (Hampton).  Hampton claims humans are really “bad” at looking back in time, and that we over idealize how things used to be, and how people really behave, when in reality, things have not really changed all that much. Hampton goes on to challenge and criticize Turkles book “All together”, in which she claims public space isn’t communal anymore, and her theory that no one interacts in these public spaces anymore, because they are so engrossed in their own technological worlds. Hampton claims there isn’t enough real evidence to prove this, and theorizes that our idea that technology has alienated us is a product of our own romanticism of the past. His work shows that over the last few decades, our tendency to communicate with others has actually grown rather significantly. We are looking back at the world without technology through rose colored lenses in a way, technology isn’t necessarily making us isolated or disengaged, it may be changing how we interact, but Hampton’s research seeks to oppose the common stigma or “misperception” surrounding technology and communication.

 

Why do you think there has become this widespread cynicism surrounding modern technology, or “technological dissidence”?  Do you think technology is really alienating us? Why do you think hipsters are either so closely associated with technology (bloggers, photographers etc.) but on the other end, perceived to be so far removed from,  or the ‘counter culture’ to this digital revolution in which we are living in?

 

 

Hampton’s Research Video !!!!

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/technology-is-not-driving-us-apart-after-all.html?_r=0


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The Beginning of The End

// Posted by on 01/17/2014 (5:23 PM)

The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on… Read more

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The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on Stewart Brand, a networker who founded the Whole Earth Catalog and WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) which were both focused on creating an openminded and flexible kind of culture.  Brand was an important figure in the idea of the Merry Pranksters as well as in the MIT media Lab.  From the 1960′s through the 1980′s, he experienced diverse environments and sought to link projects and people and promote new ways of thinking.  Brand’s enterprises over those two decades of “shifting politics”, Turner suggests, appear as precursors to the World Wide Web.

Turner also discusses the public perspective in 1967 and the fear and unrest that arose as computers were viewed as technologies of dehumanization, centralized bureaucracy, and the rationalization of human life.  Computers were an overt symbol of the military and the centralization of power.  People feared the creation of an automated society that was a potential threat to their freedom.  In the 1990′s, however, computers had served as the defining devices of cold war technocracy and emerged as the symbols of its transformation. Two decades after the end of the Vietnam War and the fading of the American counter culture, computers somehow seemed poised to bring to life the countercultural dream of empowered individualism, collaborative community, and spiritual communion (2).  It is interesting how in just thirty years, the cultural meaning of information technology shifted so drastically.  The power of computing, once seen a threat to freedom and a individuality, was soon perceived as encouraging to personal freedom, collaboration, dispersed authority, and knowledge.

After learning about the shift in perspective of technology from the 1960′s to the 1990′s, it is interesting to consider the view of the subject in my generation.  It is overly evident how ingrained technology is in our society today, particularly among the youth.  Walking around campus, it is almost rare to see a student hands-free, head up, taking in their immediate environment and the individuals who occupy it.  It is not hard to understand technologies’ massive role in influencing the world around us.  iPhones have replaced the need for face-to-face conversations and computers are now the popular substitute for books, newspapers, and magazines.  Seven-year-olds are asking for cellphones and computers as birthday gifts instead of bicycles or games.  Dinner conversations have taken a backseat to technological entertainment and car rides are often silent as everyone is “plugged-in”.  It is undeniable; we live in the digital age.

I often find these observations to be depressing, only reminders of how genuine social interactions have seemingly diminished into thin air.  It is almost as if someone’s texting or Facebook/Twitter/Instgram page is more of a representation of who they are than the individual him/herself.  For the majority of young people, technology is their primary device for communication and expression.  In my opinion, this only hinders their personable development as they spend increasing amounts of time focused on their digital appearence as well as the personalities portrayed by others.  Technology can often limit the imagination and creativity of young minds as they are bombarded with distractions on the web that are more often than not- well, garbage.   Some might argue that I have a biased view on how our generations technological networks have influenced our social interactions and that is probably accurate.  My opinion is formed by personal experience, however, and I tend to see technology today as a tool for a shallow interconnectedness that, ultimately, isolates us from one another. To me, this is where the irony lies.  A device created to connect humanity on a broad scale has the effect of distancing us when we are, physically, the closest.

 


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My Generation

// Posted by on 04/25/2013 (2:57 PM)

Being born in 1993 I am now 19 and have never known life without technology. As a student I use it daily in forms such as online textbooks, social media, music, group projects, a social tool, and even a… Read more

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Being born in 1993 I am now 19 and have never known life without technology. As a student I use it daily in forms such as online textbooks, social media, music, group projects, a social tool, and even a tutor, to name a few. This generation is one that will change the world. As technology advances it seems that I, along with my peers, advance alongside. My parents however are stuck in the past, asking me to do simple things such as record a video, download an app, or god forbid send a text. What does this widening gap mean for the future of my generation, for my future?

It is interesting to think of my parents as less capable than me in any instance of my life, seeing as they have had 40 more years than I have had to master life skills. However it is becoming more clear to me as new advances in technology occur that my generation, the digital generation, is willing and more than able to take charge of the world and push it in a direction that my parents generation couldn’t fathom at our age, one that they didn’t even know possible.

My generation, like every generation before is rebellious towards, and misunderstood by our elders. The fact that my parents used to scold me for having my phone out during dinner, or playing music to loud is now comical to the extent that everyone I know is face down in their respective Iphone, Ipad, or laptop. While my father had to go to his library and look for a book for information, advances in technology have made learning and obtaining information as simple as a Google search. While I go to school and take four classes a semester with my classmates, I am constantly learning about the world and various other subjects by myself, on my own schedule, and to my own fancy. This is the most exciting feature of my generation, the inability to feel accomplished. With unlimited resources at my fingertips, available to me in a fraction of a second, I never feel like I have truly learned all there is to learn, or uncovered all aspects of a topic. This longing I feel for more information at all times is felt by all in my generation.

Jerry Adler wrote an article for WIRED entitled 1993, Meet the First Digital Generation. Now Get Ready to Play by Their Rules.In it he addresses an interesting point about social networks and the risky business that my generation undertakes using social networking sites to make our social lives completely transparent over the Internet. In it he interviews a girl in her 20s about her Facebook life. “She is casual about what some might consider the risks of oversharing.” He writes, “In the future, she says, it won’t matter if you did post a picture of yourself covered in chocolate, because ‘the people who care will all retire and the world will be run by my generation, which doesn’t give a shit.’” This is a testament to the attitude of my generation. What my parents find totally unacceptable, I find normal.

What does all this talk of a digital generation really mean? To me it signifies a defining moment in time, a point of no return. Whether older generations agree with it or not, technology has taken over and is here to stay. My generation is the first to have advanced technology throughout our whole lives, leaving a bigger gap than ever before between us and our parents.

My generation will be the ones to take the world into the digital revolution and the next chapter of time. We are at the frontier of the exploration and expansion of the digital space, the fore fathers of a changing world.  Whatever happens next is up to us, we have the power. The only question left is what will we do with this power? To that question I have a simple answer, whatever we want.


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Your Anon News

// Posted by on 04/22/2013 (2:08 PM)

The famous hacker/activist group Anonymous has just raised enough money to start their own news website, to be entitled Your Anon News (YAN) reports the website ARS Technica. The fundraiser was set up through the website Indiegogo, and raised close… Read more

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The famous hacker/activist group Anonymous has just raised enough money to start their own news website, to be entitled Your Anon News (YAN) reports the website ARS Technica. The fundraiser was set up through the website Indiegogo, and raised close to  55,000 dollars. The article states that Anonymous only set out to collect 2,00o dollars initially.

It is interesting that the group only set out to raise 2,000 dollars but in reality ended up raising a small fortune. To me this shows the support of the people for more influence by Anonymous in their lives. The group is criticized by many for their attacks on certain companies and websites. However for every person who views Anonymous as a terrorist group, there are two people who idolize the group. In recent years the group has made some waves with its hacks and ability to appeal to a good portion of the population.

By creating this news website I believe that Anonymous is looking to create a more dedicated group of followers and loyalists who look up to the group for inspiration. The article states that ”YAN’s mission is also to become more integrated with the news cycle: ‘to report, not just aggregate the news,’” and a video posted by Anonymous stated that “Our goal was to disseminate information we viewed as vital separating it from the political and celebrity gossip that inundates the mainstream.”

Although I do not necessarily agree with some of the groups actions, I am interested to see how they use this news website to convey information that they think is relevant and important. I actually have faith in this new website, I support their point that news nowadays is to mainstream and gossipy. I will be sure to check out the website when it is up and if nothing else at least it will provide me the opportunity to escape from mainstream culture and media for a few minutes.

Check out the video here.


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Strike Debt!

// Posted by on 03/25/2013 (9:24 PM)

A quick look at the image above offers some pretty shocking statistics about the amount of debt that our citizens face, these statistics show that a drastic change is needed in our governments to correct this growing debt problem.… Read more

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A quick look at the image above offers some pretty shocking statistics about the amount of debt that our citizens face, these statistics show that a drastic change is needed in our governments to correct this growing debt problem. The Occupy Wall Street movement looks to implement this dramatic change.

Every one has heard of the occupy wall street movement that swept the nation and brought millions together behind a common goal, to eliminate inequalities faced by the famed 99%. The Occupy movement used the internet to spread its message to the world and was the starting point for Occupy movements across the world, one such movement is an Occupy offshoot called Strike Debt.

Strike Debt is a non profit organization that was started as a result of the Occupy movement. On their official website they state “Debt resistance is just the beginning. Join us as we imagine and create a new world based on the common good, not Wall Street profits.” This grassroots organization says it has abolished over 1 million in medical debt, saying that the medical industry and debt in general is “an industry designed to confuse, overwhelm, and exploit.” The organization is a Rolling Jubilee project that buys debt for pennies on the dollar and then destroys the debt. for a more indepth explanation check out this short youtube video. By using donations this organization will try to abolish millions of dollars in debt caused by unfair wall street practices. For more information on this movement you can visit their facebook page, or their blog.

While the Occupy movement itself is impressive I believe that the use of a common goal to unite people thousands of miles away from another is a feat in itself. The Occupy movement was so successful itself, and at creating other movements, such as the Strike Debt organization, because of  the use of a 3rd space, the internet, to connect people in a common goal no matter their location or social standing. The use of internet propaganda and social networking is the main reason why this movement was so popular. As globalization increases and internet users are more interconnected it is an intriguing question to ask, whats next? Will the strike debt movement really be able to abolish millions of dollars in debt, and bring more equality to the 99%? To find out the answers we turn to the internet, just more proof that the internet is a 3rd space that brings the global community closer all the time.

 


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The Revived Hippie Culture

// Posted by on 01/30/2012 (4:08 PM)

While Ali makes a great point in her post “New Hippies?” that the stereotypical hippie still exists today (though fairly rarely), I think traces of the hippie culture we associate with the 1960s and 1970s’ counterculture are very

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While Ali makes a great point in her post “New Hippies?” that the stereotypical hippie still exists today (though fairly rarely), I think traces of the hippie culture we associate with the 1960s and 1970s’ counterculture are very visible in today’s Occupy Movement. This movement’s website clearly demonstrates the need for revolution and a change in the world – aspects very prominent in the counterculture of the 60s and 70s. Even in the website’s section titled “#HOWTOOCCUPY”, the “O” in occupy features a human fist, much resembling the fist used by African-Americans in the Black Power movement. These features are just some of the many of the Occupy Movement that are reminiscent of the “old” counterculture.
The Occupy Movement’s website also imitates aspects of the WELL network, utilizing a discussion post forum in which users can publish views and opinions related to various topics concerning the movement. This retro network forum symbolizes the community ideals held by counterculturists of the 60s and 70s. These community ideals are apparent in the Occupy Movement as a whole, bringing Americans of all races, ethnicities, incomes, genders, and ages together under a common goal towards a more economically and socially equal society. Perhaps the fact that the participants in the Occupy Movement represent a wide-ranging spectrum of people suggests that it has revised the 60s and 70s counterculture beneficially (in contrast to the very visible “exclusion fever” present in countercultural movements at the time).
Moreover, some of the physical aspects to Occupy Movement “campgrounds” located in target cities, such as Zuccotti Park in New York for Occupy Wall Street, resemble the communes that existed (and some that Ali points out still exist) in the 60s and 70s. As many of the Occupy movements take place in very urban settings, parks provide a stark contrast between the targeted audiences that reside in corporate buildings and the “99%” that protest from and (sometimes) live in (tents – resemblant of the communal geodesic domes) green, nature-oriented parks. The nature-focused aspect of a park suggests the call for a world in which life is less corporate(or building)-focused. Often, the actual inhabitants (or participants who stay in the parks) of the Occupy movemnts resemble the traditional, stereotypical hippie. However, the members of the Occupy Movement who live in the tents represent only a very small portion of the entire Occupy community that protests for the great change. While the Occupy members may be grouped under this hippie-looking-tent-occupier stereotype, their diversity and massive size (mentioned in the beginning) proves Occupiers are far more than that.
Although I focused the previous points on Occupy Movements taking place in the United States with Americans, the Occupy craze has spread globally. As of today (January 30, 2012), there are 2,853 Occupy communities worldwide. (To see more details click here) This movement promotes the international spread of its ideals through facilitating organization of different Occupy meetups and communication among those participants. This connection-oriented feature of the Occupy Movement is another resemblance of Brand’s WELL.
To go back to my original comment, it seems as though hippies (not restricted to our stereotypical 60s and 70s hippie figure) exist today in greater numbers than we might have first thought. The Occupy Movement is a clear example that brightly glows with resemblance and similarity to the 60s and 70s counterculture in all of its glory.

Occupier

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street


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The New Hippie?

// Posted by on 01/28/2012 (4:34 PM)

During the 1960s-1970s the United States went through a Hippie Movement when people made the choice to leave the cities and go back to living on their own. Hippies opposed of the political and social violence during their… Read more

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During the 1960s-1970s the United States went through a Hippie Movement when people made the choice to leave the cities and go back to living on their own. Hippies opposed of the political and social violence during their time and promoted an ideology that focused on peace love and personal freedom. Although that seems like it could be a good thing, in some ways it wasn’t. Hippies promoted the use of psychedelic drugs believing that they expanded their consciousness. They left cities and moved out west to live in communes like Drop City and the Farm (which is still going). Communes gave the people that lived there a sense of freedom, everything they did was off the grid and they did it because they wanted to not because they had to. But the peace and love age of the hippies didn’t last long. 1969 brought one of the biggest gatherings of hippies at the Woodstock festival. Hundreds of thousands gathered to listen to music and partake drug use and free love. Soon after Woodstock came the Altamont Free Concert, again hundreds of thousands attended but unlike Woodstock, the Altamont Free Concert was not peaceful. The Hells Angels provided security for the event and it broke out in a chaos. A person ended up stabbed and killed and this brought a bad name to the hippie culture.

The History of the Woodstock Festival

Altamont Free Concert -- Death of Meredith Hunter

 

The end of Hippie movement brought the end of the commune life. Hippies had to learn how to readjust into a mainstream adult world. Stewart Brand founder of the Whole Earth Catalog supported commune life style at its start. He created the Catalog to spread ideas and products to the communes, in some ways creating the first ‘blog’ like publication. People were able to contribute to the Catalog by submitting reviews or how-to’s and this gave its readers a sense of connecting to the document. Although Brand supported the communes at the start, as the digital age came up Brand saw the necessity of becoming involved in this new society. Computers and the internet brought a new world into orbit and everyone somehow became a part of it. Now almost fifty years later what happened to this hippie culture? What happened to the peace and love ideology that so many became part of?

Nothing. It still very much exists. Maybe not in the retrospect that they did in the 1960′s but the hippie culture still exists. Commune like communities are still around and people still live off the land. They just do it in a little bit different way. Instead of purely living off the land and staying away from a governed world they hold jobs in the ‘real’ world but live in these communalistic style communities where they farmed and lived off the land. Groups of over a hundred people will gather together to live and work the land, turning away from some digital technologies and processed foods. There is entertainment through the community where the members perform for each other, instead of blogs there are community boards with things that are going on and events going on. Everyone knows each other and they live in a peaceful state. But is this really like the hippie culture of the 1960s or is this a new culture all on its own?

Virginia Commune Still Draws Members after 40 Years

Today’s hippie culture is a mold of the 1960s past hippie in today’s new age. There is no way a hippie of the 1960′s could survive in today’s culture of digital media and easy access. It’s not probable for someone to live fully off the land and not participate in society, but even though it’s not probable people still do it. The hippie culture still exists. Younger generations today are embracing the hippie culture against government protocols and protecting the natural world that has slowly began to deteriorate. They embrace the sense of freedom that they receive from it as well as the values of anti-materialism and non-violence. Hundreds of communes still operate around the United States, some even thriving. But these new hippies still have cell phones and cars; they are not walking across the country, hitchhiking on interstates to get to the newest commune. They post on blogs about their findings and new areas they are exploring. Instead of the World Earth Catalog they have switched into a digital space where they can reach each other across the country. They gather together to spread ideas keeping the culture alive even today.

Rainbow Family 2011 Gathering

Will the hippie culture rise again? Will we have the counterculture movement that we did almost fifty years ago or will they continue to live in the shadows of this new digital age?


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Man-Computer Symbiosis

// Posted by on 01/25/2012 (11:31 PM)

In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the… Read more

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In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the Memex: “The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.”"

How could one not read this and consider what that would be like, our brains constantly connected to the internet, able to upload and download information instantly.

Ok, so maybe The Matrix is an extreme example but, I think every kid out there has wished that everything we learn in school could be downloaded into our brains in a matter of minutes. This likely occurred one of those dreary days where you really just want to stay in bed. Anyway, while perusing youtube I found another video from the Vlogbrothers. Two brothers, Hank and John Green, spent a year communicating with each other via blog videos and this idea was brought up.

All of the sudden internet security became infinitely more important. Like any major change in society there are pro’s and con’s having access at all times to all the information in the world would put everyone on an even playing field and certainly result in an interestingly new societal structure. On the other hand would we become as John Green said, “mindlessly consumeristic” in a sense entirely different from the mindless consumerism we suffer from today?

I leave you with an excerpt from the book mentioned in the video Feed by M.T. Turner(please excuse the swearing) and the question of what you would expect from a world in which everyone has the internet in their minds at all times?

Your face is not an organ
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, “I’m so null,” and Marty was all, “I’m null too, unit,” but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we’d been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun place for lo-grav on the moon. Lo-grav can be kind of stupid, but this was supposed to be good. It was called the Ricochet Lounge. We thought we’d go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel there and go dancing.

We flew up and our feeds were burbling all sorts of things about where to stay and what to eat. It sounded pretty fun, and at first there were lots of pictures of dancing and people with romper-gills and metal wings, and I was like, This will be big, really big, but then I guess I wasn’t so skip when we were flying over the surface of the moon itself, because the moon was just like it always is, after your first few times there, when you get over being like, Whoa, unit! The moon! The goddamn moon! and instead there’s just the rockiness, and the suckiness, and the craters all being full of old broken shit, like domesnobody’s using anymore and wrappers and claws.

The thing I hate about space is that you can feel how old and empty it is. I don’t know if the

others felt like I felt, about space? But I think they did, because they all got louder. They all

pointed more, and squeezed close to Link’s window.

You need the noise of your friends, in space. I feel real sorry for people who have to travel by themselves. In space, that must suck. When you’re going places with other people, with this big group, everyone is leaning toward each other, and people are laughing and they’re chatting, and things are great, and it’s just like in a commercial for jeans, or something with nougat.

To make some noise, Link started to move his seat up and back to whack Marty’s knees. I was like trying to sleep for the last few minutes of the flight because there was nothing to see except broken things in space, and when we’re going hard I get real sleepy real easy, and I didn’t want to be null for the unettes on the moon, at the hotel, if any of them were youch.

I guess if I’m honest? Then I was hoping to meet someone on the moon. Maybe part of it was the loneliness of the craters, but I was feeling like it was maybe time to hook up with someone again, because it had been a couple months. At parties, I was starting to get real lonely, even when there were other people around me, and it’s worse when you leave. Then there’s that silence when you’re driving home alone in the upcar and there’s nothing but the feed telling you, This is the music you heard. This is the music you missed. This is what is new. Listen. And it would be good to have someone to download with. It would be good to have someone in the upcar with you, flying home with the lights underneath you, and the green faces of mothers that you can see halfway through the windows of dropping vans.

As we flew across the surface of the moon, I couldn’t sleep. Link was playing with the seat like an asshole. He was moving it forward and backward. Marty had dropped his bird, these fake birds that were the big spit and lots of people had them, and Marty’s bird was floating off, because there was hardly any gravity, and whenever he leaned out to get his bird, Link would slam his seat back like meg hard and it would go bam on Marty’s face, and they would start laughing. Marty would be all, “Unit! Just wait one—” and Link would be, “Go for it. Try! Try it!” and Marty would be like, “Unit! You are so—!” And then they would be all big laughing and I felt like a complete bonesprocket for trying to sleep when there was fun. I kept hoping the waitress lady would say something and make them shut up for a minute, but as soon as we got out of Earth’s gravitational zone she had gone all gaga over the duty-free.

I didn’t want to be sleepy and like all stupid, but I had been drinking pretty hard the night before and had been in mal and I was feeling kind of like shit. So it was not a good way to start this whole trip to the moon, with the seat thumping on Marty’s face, and him going, “Unit! I’m trying to get my bird!”

Link was saying, “Go for it.”

Marty went, “Linkwhacker! Shit! You’re like doing all this meg damage to my knees and my face!”

“Kiss the chair. Pucker up.”

They both started laughing again. “Okay,” said Marty. “Okay, just tell me which of my frickin’ organs you’re going to smash this time.”

“Keep your tray in the upright position.”

“Like what organ? Just tell me.”

“Those aren’t organs.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your face is not an organ.”

“My face is too an organ. It’s alive.”

“Omigod, is there enough oxygen?” said our friend Calista. “Because are you having some kind of neuron death?”

“I’m trying to sleep,” Loga complained. She yawned. “I’m flat-lining. Meg.”

Then there was this wham and Marty was all, “Oh, shit,” holding on to his face, and I sat up and was like completely there was no hope of sleeping with these morons doing rumpus on my armrest.

The waitress came by and Link stopped and smiled at her and she was like, What a nice young man. That was because he purchased like a slopbucket of cologne from the duty-free.

Excerpted from Feed. Copyright © 2002 M.T. Anderson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.


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Exclusion Fever

// Posted by on 01/20/2012 (2:39 PM)

Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture not only provides an accurate history of the Whole Earth Network, but also convincing arguments discussing both its positive and negative aspects. With the ultimate hope of a Utopian future, participants in the counterculture… Read more

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Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture not only provides an accurate history of the Whole Earth Network, but also convincing arguments discussing both its positive and negative aspects. With the ultimate hope of a Utopian future, participants in the counterculture that blossomed in the late 1960s embraced the ideals of psychedelics such as LSD. The high provided by such drugs allowed one to see things differently, feel liberated from the looming nuclear (and by association Communist) threat, have an individual yet communal experience, and have enlightened thoughts. Stewart Brand – one of the most influential participants in this counterculture, as well as creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, genuinely worried about losing his identity as he grew up in the 1950s, a period characterized by containment, anxiety, and fear. This desire to actively seek, secure, and improve one’s identity was very common among active supporters and members of this counterculture, and more specifically the Whole Earth Network.

Stewart Brand

While the liberal concept behind the Whole Earth Network might seem attractive at first, Turner has persuasively provided legitimized criticisms for this “way of life” Brand created. The following five points are representative of Turner’s critique:

  1. Members disregarded and ignored racial issues
  2. Traditional stereotypical masculine and feminine roles were enforced and continued
  3. Communalists acted as colonizers
  4. Members ignored the current Vietnam War
  5. Members utilized mainstream culture yet denounced it at the same time

The first point is especially intriguing. While the members of this counterculture envisioned a peaceful Utopian environment that was all-inclusive and welcoming, practically all of them were white Americans. The vast majority of this white crowd was young, well educated, intelligent, and wealthy. Without blatantly vocalizing racist views, the homogenous members all demonstrated an adherence to them. In The Whole Earth Catalog itself, only white men and (sometimes) women were pictured. This ignorance of other races proves to be even less liberal and progressive given the time period, when the fight for Civil Rights had just gained major publicity and attention. However, the members of the Whole Earth Network weren’t the only exclusive group at the time.

From 1960 through 1975, a revolution was occurring known as the Black Arts Movement (BAM). This site (Perceptions of Black) provides a detailed background of the movement as well as Black art images and excerpts from texts relevant to BAM debates. As the introduction points out:

“Advancing African American liberation through self-determinacy and, in time, Black Nationalism, the ‘Black Power Concept’ directed African Americans to separate from mainstream (understood as white) society to determine ‘who are black people, what are black people, and what is their relationship to America and the rest of the world’ ”

The BAM intentionally excluded the black community from the rest of America in order to find their identity and place in the world after suffering through a history of belittlement, injustice, and discrimination. It aimed to achieve this goal through the encouragement and demonstration of Black Power. Simultaneously, white men and women in the Whole Earth Network were excluding themselves most obviously to communes where they too sought to find their identities, in fear they would lose them.

Although both movements held very different (perhaps even opposing) reasons for their quests for identity, they shared the same common goal. They also excluded their respective groups from the rest of society not supporting them (or those not members of their respective in-groups) – for the BAM it was non-black America; for the Whole Earth Network it was practically white Americans not fitting the majority stereotype detailed earlier as well as individuals of other races, etc. While both movements may have had aspects that are seemingly liberal, open-minded, and welcoming, their actions proved to be quite the contrary. Both the Whole Earth Network – representative of the 1970s counterculture – and the BAM fell victim to the same illness that has driven problems throughout all of history – exclusion fever.


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