Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Net EffectRomanticism, Capitalism, and the Internet$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Thomas Streeter

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780814741153

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814741153.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Romanticism and the Machine

Romanticism and the Machine

The Formation of the Computer Counterculture

(p.44) 2 Romanticism and the Machine
The Net Effect

Thomas Streeter

NYU Press

This chapter looks at how the initial discoveries of the playful possibilities of computing were seized upon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In the wake of 1960s counterculture, approaches to computing that loosened the connection between means and ends—that allowed play—helped create a subculture within the community of computer engineers. This in turn helped set the conditions for the rise of the modern, internet-connected, graphically-capable computer. The chapter introduces the theme of romantic individualism, an enduring Western cultural discourse with an associated way of imagining the self that passed from milieus like the counterculture based in San Francisco, particularly that surrounding Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog, into the computer counterculture, as exemplified in the work of Ted Nelson, the computer visionary who coined the word hypertext. Against a background of Vietnam War era social disaffection, key romantic tropes—the strategic use of colloquial language, a studied informality, appeals to self-transformation instead of need-satisfaction, tales of sensitive rebel heroes, and a full-throated departure from instrumental rationality—became associated with alternative uses of computing.

Keywords:   computing, 1960s counterculture, romantic individualism, Stewart Brand, Whole Earth Catalog, Ted Nelson

NYU Press Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.