barbrook

Wandering stones

Wandering stones#Derbyshire

Sunday morning the skies weren’t so clear. We had work to do, of course, but we were going out too. We had every intention of finding Barbrook III… honestly we did… but then again, there was the distant upright stone we had noticed the day before. The first time we had seen it in spite of the many visits we had made to this part of the moor, and in spite of driving along the road that borders it…

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Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, The Californian Ideology, Alamut (August 1995)

Not to lie about the future is impossible and one can lie about it at will - Naum Gabo [1]

As the Dam Bursts…

At the end of the twentieth century, the long predicted convergence of the media, computing and telecommunications into hypermedia is finally happening. [2] Once again, capitalism’s relentless drive to diversify and intensify the creative powers of human labour is on the verge of qualitatively transforming the way in which we work, play and live together. By integrating different technologies around common protocols, something is being created which is more than the sum of its parts. When the ability to produce and receive unlimited amounts of information in any form is combined with the reach of the global telephone networks, existing forms of work and leisure can be fundamentally transformed. New industries will be born and current stock market favourites will swept away. At such moments of profound social change, anyone who can offer a simple explanation of what is happening will be listened to with great interest. At this crucial juncture, a loose alliance of writers, hackers, capitalists and artists from the West Coast of the USA have succeeded in defining a heterogeneous orthodoxy for the coming information age: the Californian Ideology.

This new faith has emerged from a bizarre fusion of the cultural bohemianism of San Francisco with the hi-tech industries of Silicon Valley. Promoted in magazines, books, tv programmes, Web sites, newsgroups and Net conferences, the Californian Ideology promiscuously combines the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies. This amalgamation of opposites has been achieved through a profound faith in the emancipatory potential of the new information technologies. In the digital utopia, everybody will be both hip and rich. Not surprisingly, this optimistic vision of the future has been enthusiastically embraced by computer nerds, slacker students, innovative capitalists, social activists, trendy academics, futurist bureaucrats and opportunistic politicians across the USA. As usual, Europeans have not been slow in copying the latest fad from America. While a recent EU Commission report recommends following the Californian ‘free market’ model for building the 'information superhighway’, cutting-edge artists and academics eagerly imitate the 'post-human’ philosophers of the West Coast’s Extropian cult. [3] With no obvious rivals, the triumph of the Californian Ideology appears to be complete.

The widespread appeal of these West Coast ideologues isn’t simply the result of their infectious optimism. Above all, they are passionate advocates of what appears to be an impeccably libertarian form of politics - they want information technologies to be used to create a new 'Jeffersonian democracy’ where all individuals will be able to express themselves freely within cyberspace. [4] However, by championing this seemingly admirable ideal, these techno-boosters are at the same time reproducing some of the most atavistic features of American society, especially those derived from the bitter legacy of slavery. Their utopian vision of California depends upon a wilful blindness towards the other - much less positive - features of life on the West Coast: racism, poverty and environmental degradation. [5] Ironically, in the not too distant past, the intellectuals and artists of the Bay Area were passionately concerned about these issues.

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Robin Hood and the nightingale

Robin Hood and the nightingale

It was undoubtedly lunchtime. We walked the short distance across the moor to where the car was parked, noting that the first of the heather was in bloom. Not the proper heather, of course… not the one that turns whole swathes of these isles purple in a brief explosion of glory, but heather nonetheless. It is a start… The August trip north would need the camera’s memory cleared in anticipation… A…

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Looking backwards...

Looking backwards… #Derbyshire

We walked between the cairns towards the circle known as Barbrook I, an unromantic name for a site that tugs at my heartstrings in a way no other does. It is neither grand nor imposing and sits at the edge of the cairnfield where forgotten mounds mark the passage between the worlds. I do not know how many mounds there once were, today around eighty remain across the extended site, though some may…

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Map-reading...or not...

Map-reading…or not…

It is believed that the human eye can distinguish more shades of green than any other colour. Walking across the moors after sunshine and heavy rain, it would be impossible to count the different hues. We followed the path alongside the brook to where it falls from a small reservoir into a copse where wildflowers had found a haven from the wind and weather. There are few trees on the moor, just…

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Where the weekend began...

Where the weekend began…

It was hot on Friday, so the cold cider was welcome. It was too hot to eat, so we grazed lightly as we published Scions of Albion and talked through the plans for Leaf and Flame. Thunderstorms woke me mid-way through the night and in spite of the flash I had to think for a moment where I was… the blank wall facing me had me disoriented. Then I remembered and smiled. The morning would have hills…

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