What Ada Lovelace, Tom Paine, and the Paris Commune Can Teach Us About Digital Technology
A highly engaging tour through progressive history in the service of emancipating our digital tomorrow
Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, Australia
When we talk about technology we always talk about tomorrow and the future--which makes it hard to figure out how to even get there. In Future Histories, public interest lawyer and digital specialist Lizzie O'Shea argues that we need to stop looking forward and start looking backwards. Weaving together histories of computing and progressive social movements with modern theories of the mind, society, and self, O'Shea constructs a "usable past" that can help us determine our digital future.
What, she asks, can the Paris Commune tell us about earlier experiments in sharing resources--like the Internet--in common? How can Frantz Fanon's theories of anti colonial self-determination help us build digital world in which everyone can participate equally? Can debates over equal digital access be helped by American revolutionary Tom Paine's theories of democratic, economic redistribution? What can indigenous land struggles teach us about stewarding our digital climate? And, how is Elon Musk not a future visionary but a steampunk throwback to Victorian-era technological utopians?
In engaging, sparkling prose, O'Shea shows us how very human our understanding of technology is, and how when we draw on the resources of the past, we can see the potential for struggle, for liberation, for art and poetry in our technological present. Future Histories is for all of us--makers, coders, hacktivists, Facebook-users, self-styled Luddites--who find ourselves in a brave new world.
Loved by our collective!
This book grabbed me with it's subtitular promise to connect digital technology and radical histories including the Paris Commune, a short lived but influential experiment with anarchism in 1871. The author skillfully critiques the enclosure of the digital commons by corporations and billionaire "thought leaders," drawing on a rich history of philosophy, social struggle, and experimentation to address familiar issues often wrongly framed as having no historic precedent. An ambitious book with insights for technologists, activists, and the rest of us, living our lives in silicone cages!
- 352 pages
- Verso (8/17/21)
- 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches