Hybrid Assignment 12

In chapter 7, Turner reports on the history of Wired magazine and the people who played a part in its evolution, beginning with its conception by Louis Rossetto and Jayne Metcalfe. Kevin Kelly, who had been a writer for the Whole Earth Catalog and the Well, was hired as the founding editor, bringing with him “the simultaneously cybernetic and New Communalist social vision of the Whole Earth publications and their networked style of editorial work.” (209) From the beginning, the New Communalist ideology was a large influence in the editorial content of Wired. Articles from Wired were discussed on the Well and members such as Stewart Brand, Howard Rheingold and John Perry Barlow wrote articles for the magazine. “Editorially, Wired made no pretense of pursuing balance in either its point of view or its sources.” (216)

Turner connects these early affiliations with the New Communalists to the Esther Dyson/ Newt Gingrich interview by way of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Global Business Network and the Media Lab. The EFF, founded to promote digital rights and preserve personal liberties, was linked in a 1994 Wired article to the Merry Pranksters when writer Joshua Quittner “suggested that their current work was an extension of the 1960s consciousness revolution, undertaken with grown-up sobriety.” (219) Turner argues that these groups were the prototypes for ways to organize a life in the emerging world. While bringing the ideals of the New Communalists, they also were fighting for telecommunications deregulation in which they shared common ground with New Right politicians such as Newt Gingrich. While Dyson did not share the same politics with Gingrich, in the 1995 article in Wired magazine, they seem to agree on some things. After what I had read about Dyson, I expected the interview to be more confrontational. But they shared a similar agenda in maintaining the Internet as a model of a decentralized society and a “new frontier” in which cyberspace belonged to the people and should not be censored by the government. In one section of the article they discuss the legality of encryption when it comes to terrorist threats and if it will or should be illegal for some groups to use encryption. It’s hard to believe they were having this conversation 20 years ago. In 1995, the article apparently was a big step in aligning the former counterculturalists, New Right conservatives and the computer industry.

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