Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village
by Richard Barbrook
Pluto Press, 2007
Paper: 978-0-7453-2660-3 | Cloth: 978-0-7453-2661-0
Library of Congress Classification HM851.B366 2007
Dewey Decimal Classification 303.483309730112

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.

See other books on: Barbrook, Richard | Forecasting | Global Village | Information society | Internet
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