Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village

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This book is a history of the future. It shows how our contemporary understanding of the Net is shaped by visions of the future that were put together in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richard Barbrook argues that at the height of the Cold War the Americans invented the only working model of communism in human history, the Internet. Yet, for all of its libertarian potential, the goal of this high-tech project was geopolitical dominance. The ownership of time was control over the destiny ...

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Overview

This book is a history of the future. It shows how our contemporary understanding of the Net is shaped by visions of the future that were put together in the 1950s and 1960s.

Richard Barbrook argues that at the height of the Cold War the Americans invented the only working model of communism in human history, the Internet. Yet, for all of its libertarian potential, the goal of this high-tech project was geopolitical dominance. The ownership of time was control over the destiny of humanity. The potentially subversive theory of cybernetics was transformed into the military-friendly project of "artificial intelligence." Capitalist growth became the fastest route to the "information society." The rest of the world was expected to follow America's path into the networked future.

Today, we're still being told that the Net is creating the information society---and that America today is everywhere else tomorrow. Barbrook shows how this idea serves a specific geopolitical purpose. Thankfully, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the DIY ethic of the Net shows that people can resist these authoritarian prophecies by shaping information technologies in their own interest. Ultimately, if we don't want the future to be what it used to be, we must invent our own improved and truly revolutionary future.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745326603
  • Publisher: Pluto Press
  • Publication date: 5/25/2007
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.49 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Barbrook is the author of a number of highly influential essays on the clash between commerce and cooperation within the Net, including 'The Hi-Tech Gift Economy', 'Cyber-communism' and, with Andy Cameron, 'The Californian Ideology'. He has recently published a book on the social groups shaping the information society: The Class of the New (2006). Barbrook is Senior Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages at the University of Westminster and is a trustee of cybersalon.org.
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Table of Contents

1: The Future Is What It Used To Be
2: The American Century
3: Cold War Computing
4: The Human Machine
5: Cybernetic Supremacy
6: The Global Village
7: The Cold War Left
8: The Chosen Few
9: Free Workers In The Affluent Society
10: The Prophets Of Post-Industrialism
11: The American Road to Cybernetic Communism
12: The Leader Of The Free World
13: The Great Game
14: The American Invasion Of Vietnam
15: Those Who Forget The Future Are Condemned To Repeat It
References
Index
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