Podcast 7: The Whole Earth Catalog, Ecology, and the Early Internet

Dr. Courtney Traub, Teaching and Research Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford, joined us this week to tell us about an off-beat, counter-cultural publication from the 1960s and 70s, the Whole Earth Catalog.

The Whole Earth Catalog is the brainchild of Stewart Brand and was a compendium of sustainable and self-sufficient living resources, new technologies, and reviews of books on widely esoteric topics from cybernetics to population crises. It derived its title from NASA’s famous image of the earth from space, which was featured on its initial cover page:

WholeEarth-cover-1968firstissue

It contains details on how to build your own geodesic dome like this one in Montreal:

794px-Montreal_Biosphere

Montreal Biosphere. Photograph by Alex Faris.

[Click the pictures below to enlarge]

 

Nature and technology in perfect(?) poetic symbiosis:

WEC-1968-pg41-machineslovinggrace

The table of contents (sans page numbers) resembles some early internet directories:

earlyyahoodirectory-WholeEarth-comparison

 

Thanks so much for listening, and as usual, let us know if you have questions or comments!

 

Correction: The Population Bomb was written by Paul and Anne Ehrlich, not Barbara Ehrlich. It came out in 1968. Anne was not initially credited with co-authorship.

Further reading:

Andrew Kirk, Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (University Press of Kansas, 2007)

Fred Turner, From Counterculture to Cyberculture (University of Chicago Press, 2006)

Ursula Heise, Sense of Place and Sense of Planet (OUP, 2008)

 

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