The geeky legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog

November 1, 2006
By

jacket imageWe have previously noted the fond regard that geeks hold for the Whole Earth Catalog. Two more testimonials have burbled up through the ether. Tim O’Reilly, publisher of all those techie books with animals on their covers, says on his blog, O’Reilly Radar:

We shamelessly copied the name of the Whole Earth Catalog for our groundbreaking Whole Internet User’s Guide and Catalog, but that’s the least of our debts to Stewart [Brand] and crew. A huge amount of the O’Reilly sensibility, a mix of practicality and idealism, was learned from the Whole Earth Catalog.

Cory Doctorow also notes his affection and the influence of WEC, writing on BoingBoing:

Count me among those who were heavily influenced by the Catalogs. I have a complete set in a storage locker in Toronto. I used to pore through them for hours on rainy days, marvelling at the flowering of the mission of “access to tools and ideas.”

The comments of O’Reilly and Doctorow are occasioned by the announcement of the Stanford University Libraries’ upcoming symposium From Counterculture to Cyberculture: The Legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog. Taking its title from Fred Turner’s recent book, the symposium will explore the the “extraordinary impact of the Whole Earth Catalog and the American counterculture on contemporary computing and everyday life.” The symposium will be held on November 9, 2006, 7–9 pm, at Stanford’s Cubberley Auditorium.
If you’d like to find out more about the ways that Stewart Brand has shaped modern digital culture, check out our excerpts from Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture. We have the introduction to the book as well as an excerpt from Chapter Four, "Taking the Whole Earth Digital.


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