From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Fred Turner (second & final part)

I must admit having mixed feelings after finishing my reading of Fred Turner’s book. In my previous post, I tried to show why it is an important book and how the counterculture influnced the early days of Silicon Valley (together with different influences illustrated by Christophe Lécuyer in Making Silicon Valley (another post here).

Steward Brand with his Whole Earth Catalog had a major influence and many people did not know it. Even Steve Jobs in his famous speech at Stanford celebrated Steward Brand and probably many people discovered him then.

But what has been the influence of the counterculture and its impact after Steward Brand? This is where I am intrigued: Fred Turner does not seem to admit it, but the impact is disappointing…

Politically, the influencers moved towards a kind of techno-anarchist not to say libertarian philosophy and even to the far right of the political spectrum (Newt Gingrich). Let us not forget the proximity of Peter Thiel or Elon Musk to Donald Trump (despite the diner of titans). I am not sure what to believe of other people or institutions such as the MIT Media Lab of Nicholas Negroponte, the Santa Fe Institute or Esther Dyson.

All this was apparently and symbolically represented by magazine Wired and its founder Louis Rossetto. As a prime symbol, the cover below seems to claim that Wired was the successor to the Whole Earth Catalog.

All these people and institutions seemed to have of the future not to say an ability in predicting it… but in the end what is the final output. If it is just Burning Man which Olivier Alexandre has perfectly described in his book La Tech, it is, yes, disappointing… how Burning Man ended up is in 2023 (see wikipedia) when I was finishing my book seems to be a strange coincidence…

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