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Student 7

Page history last edited by Katherine Pandora 3 years, 9 months ago

Ksenia Komarnyckyj



     The two items I selected to write about from The Last Whole Earth Catalog published in August, 1972 were the articles promoting the books The Engineers’ Illustrated Thesaurus and The Way Things Work; An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Technology. I selected these items because as an engineering student myself. I love learning about how things are made and thus these are two items I would purchase for myself if I was perusing the catalog in 1972. The people who would be buying these two books in 1972 were those who wanted to learn about things outside their daily sphere of learning. These people would have been those who took the time to read manuals for their cars and home appliances. But those people in the modern world seek out the same information but not in the form of online PDFs, internet forums, and people providing step by step deconstructions of items in YouTube videos.

              But also, because they are two items which even in the past show how different things replacing one another. Even at the time of the catalog The Engineers’ Illustrated Thesaurus was already out of print. And readers now had to turn to The Way Things Work to answer questions such as how do helicopters work. But though copies of both items are available on amazon from anywhere $2 to $2,100. They have now been replaced by things on the internet but also by shows on science channel such as How It’s Made. All these items are meant to inform people of complex ideas and give them more information to better understand the advancements in the world around them, specifically in the fields of technology and manufacturing.

              The Whole Earth Catalog's similarities to Wikipedia are that there is a variety of information that at first seems very random. Yet Wikipedia has the advantage of having no physical bound to the information it can contain. But the items selected to be in the catalog was items relevant to those seeking to become their own person, and to live outside the bounds of society. The most important aspect of both is that they made information more available to people no matter their place in society but, one had to be willing to take the time to search for the necessary information.




Relevant Quotes:

  1. "It [ the MIT Rad Lab] rough together scientists and mathematicians from MIT and elsewhere, engineers and designers from industry, and many different military and government planners. Among these various professionals, and particularly among the engineers and designers, entrepreneurship and collaboration were the norm, and independence of the mind was strongly encouraged. Formerly specialized scientists were urged to become generalists in their research, able to not only theorize but also design and build new technologies." (Turner, 19)
  2. "Brand recalled... that he had "imagined us becoming primarily a research organization, with nifty projects everywhere, earnest folk climbing around on new dome designs, solar generators." Some years later he explained the link between service to the counterculture and the Catalog's research orientation as thus: "If [the commune dwellers] were going to go back to basics, they needed to know where the basics were" ... "( Turner, 79)
  3. "Like its choice of products, the Catalog's design mingled the psychedelic, the nostalgic, and the practical." (Turner, 80)



Turner, Fred. From Counterculture to Cyberculture; Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. Chicago/London: University of Chicago, 2006. Print.


Commentary on the Quotations Selected:


I selected the first quotation because it explains the inter workings of the scientific and industrial "complex" many in the counterculture were rebelling against. They did not know of the inter workings of these organizations they saw what was presented to the general population. I think it is very important to recognize as Tuner does that those with the system did have the freedom in a way that many who read and created the WEC craved with the difference that they were part of what made main steam culture possible. The second quotation was selected because it shows that the vision and purpose for what one creates often is not what its actual purpose to most people is. This is evident in so many aspects of life and the personal computer is a big reflection of this because many people did not know what to do with it and not it is what we use in our daily lives. The second part of the quot also rings true, because in the modern world we often don't know how to do the simple things. As the new communalists had to lean and go back to basics we in the modern age have to do the same, especially when we are without the assistance of the devices we rely o in our daily lives. But everyone can lean to live without certain things its all just a process of learning and re-adjustment. The third and final quote is in my opinion a summary of what what the WEC stood for and contains. In my opinion the WEC stood to be anything if you knew how to use it and mold it to fit your lifestyle because it truly had a little bit of everything. The everything included the practical such as tools and the nostalgic, such as books that were out of print even when the catalog was published. In a ways it conveys the message that everything is out there if you knew were to look for it and the WEC was a great place to start looking.








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