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Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village

Veness, Alex and Barbrook, Richard Pluto Press (2007) Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village, Devon, UK, Pluto Press, 288pp.

Record type: Book


16 commissioned artworks by Alex Veness to accompany text by Richard Barbrook, coordinator of the Hypermedia Research Centre at the University of Westminster. In the book: "Imaginary Futures From Thinking Machines to the Global Village".
About the book
This book is a history of the future. It shows how our contemporary understanding of the Net is shaped by visions of the future that were put together in the 1950s and 1960s.
Richard Barbrook argues that at the height of the Cold War the Americans invented the only working model of communism in human history, the Internet. Yet, for all of its libertarian potential, the goal of this high-tech project was geopolitical dominance. The ownership of time was control over the destiny of humanity. The potentially subversive theory of cybernetics was transformed into the military-friendly project of "artificial intelligence." Capitalist growth became the fastest route to the "information society." The rest of the world was expected to follow America's path into the networked future.
Today, we're still being told that the Net is creating the information society---and that America today is everywhere else tomorrow. Barbrook shows how this idea serves a specific geopolitical purpose. Thankfully, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the DIY ethic of the Net shows that people can resist these authoritarian prophecies by shaping information technologies in their own interest. Ultimately, if we don't want the future to be what it used to be, we must invent our own improved and truly revolutionary future.
Richard Barbrook is the author of a number of highly influential essays on the clash between commerce and cooperation within the Net, including "The Hi-Tech Gift Economy," "Cyber-communism," and (with Andy Cameron) "The Californian Ideology." He has recently published a book on the social groups shaping the information society, The Class of the New. Barbrook is Senior Lecturer in the School of Media, Art and Design at the University Westminster and is a trustee of

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Submitted date: 15 January 2007
Published date: 1 April 2007
Additional Information: In 2006-07 I co-authored a global publication - Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village (Pluto Press, 2007). The book examines the politics of collective imagined futures in the context of the propaganda ideologies of the Cold War, concluding with a radical analysis of the key spin-off of Cold War military research: the world wide web.My co-authorship comprises 16 works on paper using airbrush, watercolour and a consumer inkjet printer. The book’s images are at first digitally collaged by combining photographs sourced from the internet. Collages are then extensively re-worked as original artworks for reproduction in the book.My role as co-author is specifically image related. My images are presented as a key feature and reproduced as full-bleed pages; recto beside a blank (white) verso. The logic of this presentation is both to enhance the text and to make the book attractive as a combination of artworks and text. I worked closely with the co-author to harmonise the text and images within the book and to bring an essential visual dimension to the text.This publication marks a new direction for the publisher (Pluto Press), which has hitherto promoted text over images. Pluto Press has collaborated with me to understand that, just as film productions today must support themselves with multimedia productions to succeed in the marketplace, books must offer the reader a visual dimension in parallel with their text. This logic extends to other media to enhance the book, notably a website and associated film production that form a précis of the book’s theme.This co-authored publication is significant in two key ways:1. It presents an unprecedented historical analysis of the development of the internet as a spin-off of military technologies that evolved during the Cold War (1945-1989).2. It is innovative and original in its incorporation of dedicated artworks created by a professional artist (myself) to support the book’s novel account of the history of the internet and its conclusion that the world wide web is an ineluctable medium for cultural freedom.
Keywords: Veness Future futures imaginary barbrook vietnam soviet internet cyber-communism


Local EPrints ID: 43076
ISBN: 9780745326610
PURE UUID: 89903524-c9a1-4149-bac2-03eabcba9c3a

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 10 Jan 2007
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 15:20

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Author: Alex Veness
Author: Richard Barbrook

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