Stewart Brand: The Whole Earth Catalog 1968

Stewart Brand: The Whole Earth Catalog 1968

This (offset-litho/paper) catalog was the ‘World Wide Web’ of the late 1960s – a repository of content linked by the zeitgeist concerns of the counter-culture: ecology, environment, counter-culture, anti-war etc… contributions from hundreds of people, edited by Brand (later to write The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT). The Catalog was a mail-order catalogue (note that the civilisation of the American West was based on mail-order catalogues, such as Sears Roebuck (from 1894). But it was a mail order catalog aimed at and created by a younger generation who were exploring a different curriculum – a counter-curriculum – to the conservative, capitalist, military-industrial world of the older generation. Typically the Whole Earth Catalog had sections on ‘Understanding Whole Systems’, Farming, Husbandry,Self-Suffiency, Shelter, Arts and Crafts, Surfing, Sailing, Music, Computing, Philosophy – in fact the whole gamut of areas of interest to the counter-culture. Brand was seminal in the San Francisco counter culture, and after WEC went on to found the first electronic community (the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (WELL) in 1985 (8 years before the WWW really got going). Fred Turner has documented his life and work in From Counterculture to Cyberculture – Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (2006).

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