Fred Turner



Director, Undergraduate Studies
Director, Program in Science,

Technology and Society
Associate Professor of Communication
Associate Professor, Department of Art

and Art History, by courtesy
Affiliated Faculty, American Studies
Affiliated Faculty, Modern Thought and

Affiliated Faculty, Symbolic Systems
Affiliated Faculty, Urban Studies



Fred Turner's research and teaching focus on digital media, journalism and the roles played by media in American cultural history.

Turner is the author of two books, From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network and the Rise of Digital Utopianism (2006) and Echoes of Combat: The Vietnam War in American Memory (1996; Revised 2nd ed. 2001). His essays have tackled topics ranging from the rise of reality crime television to the role of the Burning Man festival in contemporary new media industries.

Turner’s research and writing have received a number of awards, including a PSP Award for Excellence, for the best book in Communication and Cultural Studies published in 2006 from the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division, Association of American Publishers; the Lewis Mumford Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Technics from the Media Ecology Association; the James W. Carey Media Research Award from the Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research; and both a Best Paper Award and a Book Award Special Mention from the Communication and Information Technology Section of the American Sociological Association. During the 2007-2008 academic year, he was a Leonore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Before joining the faculty at Stanford, Turner taught Communication at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also worked as a journalist for ten years. His news stories, features and reviews have appeared in venues ranging from theBoston Sunday Globe Magazine to Nature.

Turner earned his Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego, in 2002. He has also earned a B.A. in English and American Literature from Brown University and an M.A. in English from Columbia University.

In the early 1960s, computers haunted the American imagination. Bleak tools of the cold war, they embodied the rigid organization and mechanical conformity that made the military industrial complex possible. But by the 1990s—and the dawn of the Internet—computers represented a very different kind of world: a collaborative and digital utopia modeled on the communal ideals of the hippies who so vehemently rebelled against the cold war establishment in the first place.


From Counterculture to Cyberculture

From Counterculture to Cyberculture is the first book to explore this extraordinary and ironic transformation. Fred Turner here traces the previously untold story of a highly influential group of San Francisco Bay–area entrepreneurs: Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth network. Between 1968 and 1998, via such familiar venues as the National Book Award–winning Whole Earth Catalog, the computer conferencing system known as WELL, and ultimately, the launch of the wildly successful Wired magazine, Brand and his colleagues brokered a long-running encounter between San Francisco flower power and the emerging technological hub of Silicon Valley. Thanks to their vision, counterculturalists and technologists alike joined together to reimagine computers as tools for personal liberation, the building of virtual and decidedly alternative communities, and the exploration of bold new social frontiers.

Shedding new light on how our networked culture came to be, this fascinating book reminds us that the distance between the Grateful Dead and Google, between Ken Kesey and the computer itself, is not as great as we might think.

"Chapter by chapter, Fred Turner shows inventively and with a deep knowledge of the whole scene how cold war technology met hippie communalism to produce the Whole Earth Catalog, the WELL, Wired, and everything that followed. This book is a tour de force of historical digging, sociological analysis, and full understanding.”

-- Howard S. Becker

“I haven’t heard as good an account of what I’ve been up to as the one Fred Turner supplies in this broad, readable analysis. Anyone yearning for the fully researched explanation of how hippies became nerds, and then nerds became heroes, and then everyone became nerds again will get the unlikely story here. Turner’s insight into what happened in the last thirty years is the most useful one I’ve seen yet.”

-- Kevin Kelly

“Fred Turner connects the dots of the era's true, technological, cultural, and spiritual pioneers with scholarship, grace, and a storyteller's passion. As one of the weirdos who lived through many of these escapades, I am reminded that while most of us were stumbling, drop-jawed, through the emerging hallucinatory realms of cyberia, Stewart was both navigating and dreaming up these spaces simultaneously. Here’s a compelling tale of the method behind inspired madness.”

-- Douglas Rushkoff

“Fred Turner’s richly detailed history of how the alliance between the counterculture and digirati was formed is a fascinating story demonstrating that the computer’s metaphoric implications are never simply the result of the technology itself. Engrossing, deeply researched, and rich with implications, From Counterculture to Cyberculture is highly recommended for anyone interested in how technological objects attain meaning within social and historical contexts.”

-- N. Katherine Hayles



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