Counterculture has, ironically, played a key role in the development and history of prominent aspects of mainstream culture—the Internet and computing. Although some may refuse to believe that the Internet and early computing were developed in the midst of and influenced by the ideals of counterculture, Fred Turner makes a compelling argument for this notion. He discusses how counterculture movements like the New Communalist movement and people like Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog helped shape computers into a personal technology that allowed communities to come together and individuals to empower themselves.
I believe the counterculture had an influence on computing the sense that it made the computer more personal, allowing for individual empowerment, but I have a hard time believing that the computer would not have developed in that way on its own. Perhaps the counterculture merely steered it in that direction sooner.
Clay Shirky expands on the possibilities of the Internet and discusses how its social reach continues to grow. In theory, this wide social reach would be ideal for a counterculture movement, or any movement for that matter, because through aspects like social networking sites, the Internet community allows people to express themselves, share information, and ultimately be heard.
While the Internet community, and more specifically, social networking sites are democratizing in the sense that they give everyone a voice, important questions must be asked. If everyone has a voice, who is heard? And furthermore, what makes some heard more than others?