I was surprised to find no dedicated thread to this
My parents had a copy when I was a kid, which I found endlessly fascinating. It was a musty hippie internet, a giant newsprint reference catalog of all things counterculture and outsider.. art, dome construction, living off the grid, economics, politics and protest.. but also stuff like sailing, ecology, linguistics, macramé, whatever was making the rounds in 1968 was included
I realized then that most of the offerings & addresses were probably out of date, but I would pore over it constantly, especially the ads where you could order live weasels and raccoons
I've found a couple copies at flea markets (including "The Last" catalog), but I imagine they're getting sort of rare out in the wild.. anyone else encounter these books? I know a lot of these people were early internet advocates, founders of The Well and other Bay Area utopian tech institutions.. Stewart Brand, Lloyd Kahn, etc.
― Andy the Grasshopper, Monday, 18 September 2023 18:51 (six days ago) link
I grew up in a hippie California so these books were everywhere - usually filed next to "How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive." You can find copies of all of the editions on LibGen. Looking backwards though, it's clear that Stewart Brand's "brand" of apolitical individualist capitalism sucks - a "whole earth" that's completely ignorant of the third world. "Access to tools" that blindly assumes that the tools themselves are apolitical and will always be used to "build a better world." I guess I was surprised/not surprised to find positive reviews of both Atlas Shrugged and Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom in later editions of the WEC.
Gawd, it sounds like I'm horseshoeing here but I think that the DIY philosophy the WEC propagates is a reskinned version of libertarianism that tech CEOs (most of whom refer to the WEC as an inspiration) propagate today. Expressed faith in ideas and unexpressed denial of inequality is _the_ maxim of Silicon Valley. The WEC's opening line is "We are as gods and might as well get good at it" which sounds an awful lot like "move fast and break things."
― Elvis Telecom, Monday, 18 September 2023 20:09 (six days ago) link
was gonna say, ET to thread!
― out-of-print LaserDisc edition (sleeve), Monday, 18 September 2023 20:12 (six days ago) link
― an icon of a worried-looking, long-haired, bespectacled man (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 18 September 2023 20:13 (six days ago) link
Malcom Harris' takedown of the Whole Earth: The Many Lives of Stewart Brand bio is worth a read:https://www.thenation.com/article/society/stewart-brand-whole-earth/
― Elvis Telecom, Monday, 18 September 2023 20:15 (six days ago) link
I just found a copy of that bio in one of the Tiny Libraries, haven't read it yet but it prompted this thread
― Andy the Grasshopper, Monday, 18 September 2023 20:19 (six days ago) link
clumsy sentence. replace with "tech CEO (most of whom refer to the WEC as an inspiration) libertarian propaganda is a reskinned version of the DIY philosophy the WEC propagates"
― Elvis Telecom, Monday, 18 September 2023 20:19 (six days ago) link
It's also worth noting that the John Brockman who's fundamental to the publishing of the Whole Earth Catalogs (and Whole Earth Review) is the same John Brockman who's heavily involved with Jeffrey Epstein
― Elvis Telecom, Monday, 18 September 2023 20:30 (six days ago) link
I remember occasionaly browsing a dog-eared copy in my high school library. But I did buy many an issue of Mondo 2000 years later.
And I did have the Bizarro World versions of the WEC: the Amok Books and Loompanics catalogs.
― Hideous Lump, Monday, 18 September 2023 22:08 (six days ago) link
a "whole earth" that's completely ignorant of the third world.
This may have been true of Brand's Menlo Park worldview, but the catalog itself seemed genuinely interested in the 'Global South' as it were, and what could be learned from it
― Andy the Grasshopper, Monday, 18 September 2023 22:18 (six days ago) link