In the late 1960s, tens of thousands of young Americans headed back to the land in what remains the largest commune movement in American history. They hoped to turn away from the bureaucracies of the military-industrial complex that governed America at the time and to establish new communities based on interpersonal affinity and a shared consciousness. Their dreams animate much of the contemporary computer industry here in Silicon Valley and for some time now, I’ve been trying to explain how and why.
You can read the full story in my book, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism.
If you’re interested in how virtual communities came to life alongside the post-industrial economy, you might check out my article “Where the Counterculture Met the New Economy: The WELL and the Origins of Virtual Community.”
Or if you’re interested in how the legacy of the counterculture shapes Silicon Valley today, have a look at Burning Man at Google: A Cultural Infrastructure for New Media Production.