Prior to reading From Counterculture to Cyberculture by Turner I really didn’t have a clue on how social media emerged to become the huge presence today that it is in almost everyone’s lives. As I constantly check my e-mail and tweet the first thought that comes to mind I never thought about how or why these online social interactions in which I partake in were created.
In his article, Turner addresses how Stewart Brand set out to bridge the gap between counterculture and cybernetics through his Whole Earth Catalog, which offered an “alternative vision of technology as a tool for individual and collective transformation” to computer engineers and programers (Page 105). Turner explains the vision that Licklider as well as others had about computers as a human-machine which would become a communications device and “be of use to humanity as a whole” (Page 109). I believe it is fair to say that the vision that Licklider had is now the reality of today.
A common theme in the article was the spreading of information through computers in order to help advance human knowledge. Some of the central players in the spreading of information were people called hackers, who in the article were described as “those who figured things out as they went and invented for pleasure” (Page 117). One of the ethics that these hackers abide by was the idea that all information should be free. This idea made me recall an article I just read online the day prior about a man named Aaron Swartz who was an online activist and hacker himself who recently committed suicide not long after being the target of a hacking investigation. Swartz become a target of a government investigation was the result of him downloading massive amounts of articles from JSTOR over the MIT computer network then dispersing them online for free. Near the end of the article Turner sheds light on the debate that many hackers have on whether or not they should share the information, code, etc. that they use to create programs and social media websites such as Myspace and Facebook which Clay Shirky addressed in Here Comes Everybody.
This raises the question on whether information should be available free for all in order to help augment human knowledge? Or in the current state of the economy is it fair for authors and developers to charge people for their work in order to gain profit? What is the best way for a person to market their information or software?