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,
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).
Due by midnight Tuesday, December 15th (350-400 words).
For our final hybrid assignment, please take some time to reflect on what you will take away from this course. Thinking back to the first day of class, when we reflected on how digital media structures our daily lives, it becomes immediately clear how much ground we have covered. If you were asked to answer this question again, what would you say? If possible, please include details about the readings you enjoyed the most and why. Also address what readings and topics were the most difficult for you.