From Counterculture To Cyberculture: The Life And Times Of Stewart Brand

[ Thu. Mar. 11. 2010 ]
[ED. NOTE: A serious reprise of the work and influence of Stewart Brand over the past 40-odd years...JB]


This post was prompted by my reading Fred Turner's book "From Counterculture To Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism", which looks at the influence Bucky Fuller had on a range of people, in particular Stewart Brand, who helped create first the hippie counterculture and the back to the land movement of the sixties and seventies, then later the cyberculture that grew up around the San Francisco bay area. ... Turner has some great excerpts from his book at "EDGE" magazine — STEWART BRAND MEETS THE CYBERNETIC COUNTERCULTURE. ...

...Brand maintained that given access to the information we need, humanity can make the world a better place. The Whole Earth Catalog magazine he founded was promoted as a "compendium of tools, texts and information" which sought to "catalyze the emergence of a realm of personal power" by making technology available to people eager to create sustainable communities. Brand eventually achieved his goal of persuading NASA to release the first photo of the Earth from space (wandering around for some time wearing a badge saying "Why Haven't We Seen A Picture of the Whole Earth?") and the photo became the cover for the Catalog. ...

...Whole Earth (and later Wired) editor Kevin Kelly has noted that style of the Whole Earth Catalog preceded the modern internet / blogosphere, and was eventually made redundant by it. ...

...Brand discusses "Whole Earth Discipline" in this talk at EDGE....

About 40 years ago I wore a button that said, "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?" Then we finally saw the pictures. What did it do for us?

The shift that has happened in 40 years which mainly has to do with climate change. Forty years ago, I could say in the Whole Earth Catalog, "we are as gods, we might as well get good at it". Photographs of earth from space had that god-like perspective.

What I'm saying now is we are as gods and have to get good at it.

WE ARE AS GODS AND HAVE TO GET GOOD AT IT: Stewart Brand Talks About His Ecopragmatist Manifesto