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Student 8

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


By Donny Le:


     The Whole Earth Catalog has a variety of topics embedded within their vase, abnormally large pages, cramming various information into a more condense format readily for the mainstream audience. The front cover of WEC incorporates a picture of the earth, symbolizing how anything through science is possible. Back in that time period, it would seem ridiculous to imagine us having the ability to take a picture from space through a craft. But through science with the right approaches, human civilization has the capabilities to perform the unimaginable. It's very difficult to express what may serve as the modern day equivalence. However, one imagine which comes to mind is the paris This was my initial impression of the Whole Earth Catalog. Vincent Callebaut's 2050 vision of Paris as a "Smart City" according to Holly Giermann. Imagining extensive skyscrapers is an immersive sight to behold, yet unseemly very unrealistic since green skyscrapers are such a rare commodity in our current times. Although this may appear improbable today, the innovations and outcomes of the future may end up surprising the people of our own modern day generation.


     The sections of the catalog which caught my attention were those pertaining heavily to environmental science.I found it very interesting how many of the on-going projects of the time period mentioned were very relevant in today’s field of environmental science. I was most intrigued by the subsection of the Wetlands Project, which discussed methods of reducing runoff and waste water disposal though implementing wetlands into designated regions near a body of water. Projects such as these are currently aimed towards improving upon water quality and water quantity, which is highly essential for our society to function properly. Even with current society input on topics as these can seem unbelievable, but this was during the early 1970’s. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the sections I came across and the overall scope of the catalog.


     Many journalists according to Turner’s chapter 3, like Ed McClanahan found the entire concept of the Whole Earth to be very abstract, and appeared to be held together by some mysterious principle outside of normal comprehension. Turner mentions it to be, “neither book, nor magazine, nor traditional mail-order outlet.” Regardless of the various speculation received, the Whole Earth’s Catalog was monumental and innovative in the way we search and gather information. According to Turner, Steward Brand was able to link different countercultural, academic and technology communities. Thus, with the creation of the Whole Earth Catalog, Brand was able to implement effecting measures in network forums. This allowed for the exchange of ideas through multiple disciplines. I find that through unlikely collaboration amongst various backgrounds, this allows for a more uniformed movement within any discipline to make strives significant strides forward. This demonstrates, though the creation and unity of the Whole Earth community, the possibilities are endless through any field of study.

According to Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian, she believes Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog was the book that changed the world. Some people even considered it as the Google search engine of that decade, in paperback form. Steward Brand promoted his product as "a realm of intimate, personal power is developing – power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the Whole Earth Catalog." Even Steve Jobs was encapsulated by the Whole Earth Catalog phenomenon, and held the quote to heart from Brand himself of “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” Although its active publishing years were relatively brief, the Whole Earth Catalog won the National Book Award, being the only catalog to receive the honor. Today, Brand is now 77 years old and is known for writing several books examining the anthropogenic impacts on the Earth. He was recognized as a prophet for the modern environmental movement, through some of the environmental science exerts present in Whole Earth Catalog. I posted his thoughts through an interview with Casey Caplowe.







            Around the inception of the Whole Earth Catalog took place the use of personal computers. Both concepts exhibited by both seem very closely related on the notion about changing the paradigm of not understanding complex whole systems. Instead, both concepts of WEC and personal computers help provide opportunities to bridge the gap between modern complex topics and the average American consumer.  Through WEC, the catalog provided an outlet to highly acclaimed resources to help develop better develop understanding of any desired knowledge. As for the first few home computers, they provided a connection with the user with simple tasks that weren’t too daunting and came with daily routine applications, such as a kitchen computer programs used to organize recipes or optimizing reception of TV antennas. Both helped establish a connection with individuals who generally wouldn’t associate with modern innovation. However, WEC initial had more practical uses at the time in comparison with the earliest of personal computers since there was more developed resources assessable through WEC. Although computers have more relevancy in today’s society, it is important to note the ideas originally pushed through by WEC, thus, connecting so many different societies together. 




“Both types of communities, however, embraced the notion that small-scale technologies could transform the individual consciousness, and with it, the nature of community.” – pg. 74, Turner


“a system for alerting communards to the latest social and technological developments and for linking them to one another.” – pg. 78, Turner


“We lived in a small redneck town in Virginia- people didn’t think about such things as ‘whole systems’ and ‘nomadics’ and ‘Zen Buddhism.’ – pg. 81, Turner



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