So that no one is caught off guard, I want to underline points on the rubric for the final exam about grammatical and mechanical problems. This includes proper in text citations.
As mentioned in class Thursday, you must properly document your essays using either APA, Chicago, or MLA guidelines (guidelines are available online and at the writing center). This means that all quotations and direct summaries from the text should include a properly formatted citation with the precise page number (a Kindle location is acceptable). You do not need to include the bibliographic reference unless you cite a source that is not on our course syllabus (which is not recommended).
I wanted to know if you are all willing to bring a little something for our last class so we can share in ringing in the end of the semester, celebrate this amazing class, as well as, the holidays. Feel free to bring desserts, savory, or chips…basically whatever you’d like! 🙂
see you all tomorrow.
Thank you everyone for a really great course. Your interest in the materials and your engagement in our classroom discussions made this an outstanding class. I will miss our Thursday meetings!
If you did the midterm extra credit assignment, please bring this to our final class Thursday. I will not accept the extra credit assignment after this point. The final exam is due on Wednesday, December 23rd at 3pm. I will likely arrive at the CWE right at 3pm and will not return until sometime in January. Please make sure you hand in your exam on time. If you have a question about the exam, post your question to our website as an announcement so that your classmates can benefit from hearing your question and my response.
Finally, last week someone suggested that we bring in cookies this Thursday to celebrate. I welcome this suggestion. I plan to do so as well.
See you Thursday,
Fractals in the Fred Turner book, fractals in nature, fractals in math and science! A great PBS Nova documentary to explain fractals:
Triumph of the Nerds, a 1996 BBC documentary features many of the people we have read about over the semester. Features the photo spread of Bill Gates’ debut in Teen Beat Magazine!
You can find a copy of the final exam and the grading rubric under resources on our website. If you have questions about the exam, please post them to the website [tagged as announcement] so that everyone can benefit from hearing your question and my response.
Wired is what Turner describes as a network forum, that is, both trading zone and boundary object. As he (2006:209) explains, “within [Wired] writers used computational metaphors and universal rhetoric of cybernetics to depict New Right politicians, telecommunications CEOs, information pundits, and members of GBN, the WELL, and other Whole Earth–connected organizations as a single, leading edge of countercultural revolution.” The interview in the August 1995 issue of Wired between Esther Dyson and Newt Gingrich is treated by Turner as part of the magazine’s vision for a new economy, supported by peer-to-peer networks and the rhetoric of a collaborative society. But Turner connects this vision to founder Louis Rossetto who, along with Jane Metcalf, drew heavily on the Whole Earth world for its funders, subjects, and writers.
Like many New Communalists, Rossetto believed the political stance assumed by members of the New Left to be futile. Similar to the anti-political position adopted by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Rossetto had come to believe that “in order to influence [the political world] you had to become it. The best way to change things was to walk away … You had to start with yourself” (quoting Rossetto, Turner 2006:210). Turner argues that it was the social fabric of the Whole Earth world that provided a foundation for Rossetto’s antistatism in Wired magazine. If we fast forward to Esther Dyson’s interview of Newt Gingrich in the August 1995 issue of Wired, we return to a central interest of Turner: the way digital technology has become a tool and symbol for business while at the time contributing to a perception, well documented among those affiliated with Wired, that business is the best resource for social change (2006:232).
Technology is simultaneously a tool for business and what makes business the best resource for social change. Lending credence to this view is the manifesto co-authored by Esther Dyson together with George Gilder, Alvin Toffler, and George Keyworth entitled “Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age.” Turner (2006:228) argues that their manifesto “extended the cybernetic and countercultural analogies current in the social worlds of the Whole Earth and Wired, linked them to a libertarian political agenda, and ultimately used them as symbolic resources in support of the narrow goal of deregulating the telecommunications industry.” From the outset, the document relates computational technology as achieving nothing less than the overthrow of matter itself. Our current economy is based neither on farming and manual labor nor on mass production. Instead, in this postindustrial society knowledge is the central actionable resource (Turner 2006:228). Much as members of New Communalism had hoped, computational technology was facilitating “the ‘overthrow of matter’ by the ‘power of mind'” (Turner 2006:228).
To understand the boundary conditions that Brand views as integral to the “self-governing system” requires that we tease out the connection of WELL to its predecessor, the Whole Earth Catalog. Already in Turner’s description of the Whole Earth Catalog, we find the elements of WELL’s virtual community. Turner compares the Catalog’s readers to Buckminster Fuller’s Comprehensive Designer. Readers had the power to survey the “whole earth” that was embodied in the Catalog’s tools. But these tools are described as a process through which the reader has the capacity to create a personalized power over his/ her own life (Turner 2006:83). As he (2006:83) writes, “The reader could order the ‘tools’ on display and so help to create a realm of ‘intimate personal power’ in her or his own life (albeit by entering the commercial sphere first.” Using the high tech devices displayed in the catalog, Turner argues, is like participating in the wanderings of a pre-technological tribe. The New Communalist is an “Indian Engineer,” he is both an ancient and contemporary (Turner 2006:85).
In the WELL catalog, broad categories organize the different themes of this teleconferencing system. Subscribers dial up access to a central computer that enables them to type messages to one another. The shared consciousness that Turner attributes to this system is structured in relationship to forms of social and economic exchange the system facilitates. System users have the ability to converse with one another and the conversation is marketed back to its participants (Turner 2006: 142). Describing the system, Turner (2006:144) argues that from a technical perspective the system was not unique. PicoSpan was much like other conferencing software of that time. But the flexibility of the system made it appealing to its users. Just as with the Whole Earth Catalog, participants of the WELL could “move from topic to topic, jumping in and out at will, creating their own conversations if they wished” (Turner 2006:144). It is this capacity to link readings to the creation of new conversations that Turner connects to Whole Earth and its “whole systems” and “nomadics.” Readers/ users are both participants and creators in a process where contributions can be sold back to the user.
We should keep in mind how careful Turner is to stress the distinction of this system from commercial counterparts like Prodigy or General Electric’s GEnie system. Unlike the WELL, these systems viewed conferencing as “a new medium of the delivery of information” (2006:144). For Turner it is peer-to-peer communication that makes possible “self-governance.”