I was DISTINCTLY TOLD, in the 1990s, that if we put computers into all the things it would make us all super-smart and super-sexy and super-kind and we would all live in houses made of translucent plastic and acid dance and rainforests and we would specifically NOT become a society of giant raging dumbass jerks selling fake nutritional supplements to Nazis.

There were RECEIPTS. Money changed HANDS.

I wish to complain to the MANAGEMENT.


@natecull My mentor in graduate school once wrote a book that expounded the former.

He now writes books mostly about how money and technology have formed an unholy marriage that is ruining the whole world. He's the most gentle and kind and wonderful human, and the most heartbroken person I know, because not only did he believe, he was one of the *prophets*.

@TheGibson @natecull Yeah, but not all of us published books and built our public reputation and our writing and teaching careers on it. I was a proselytizer, but he was John the bloody Baptist.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull understood, and agreed.

Was not implying any other narrative there... I felt his plight.

@natecull @TheGibson Maybe? Probably, if you remember the 90s the way I do. 💖

His name is Douglas Rushkoff.

@TheGibson @natecull Yup! If you ever pick up Life, Inc., you'll see me in the acknowledgments, because I was one of his research assistants at the time.

...which is why I am now an anarcho-communist, because the thing he had me study was the history of money, LOL.

Also, the physical representation of the girl (whose name I can't remember right now) in Adolescent Demo Division is based on me!

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull This is awesome!

Where'd the history-of-money research end up, and/or take you?

When was this, and when do you see Rushkoff as having turned on tech?

@dredmorbius @TheGibson @natecull Well, it ended up in the book Life, Inc., though I think it’s threaded throughout a lot of his work that came after. For me, it became the basis for a hugely radical shift in my perception of politics— money is like god to us, and when the curtain is stripped away and you realize there’s no there there, it kind of blows your mind that you and everyone else is in pursuit of something that’s a fantasy.

@dredmorbius @TheGibson @natecull As for Rushkoff turning on tech, he never did and never has. He turned on the tech *industry*, or rather, I would say, became aware that the tech industry had colonized Cyberia in the way all colonizers do— exploited its natives and resources for personal gain without thought to how that would destroy the very things they were exploiting.

@SuzanEraslan @dredmorbius @natecull

He's dead on right.

Really, always kind of has been.

There are scattered remains of us though... and now we are finding each other.

@dredmorbius @TheGibson @natecull Oh, but as for when that happened... 2005 is when we started working together on Life, Inc., but I think it started before that. Maybe 2003ish? He was teaching at ITP and had watched it go from a school that promoted weird stuff made with tech to a school looking for their next alumnus to sell their thesis project to Google.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull My view was that things changed during the first Web boom -- Netscape IPO through the 2001 crash.

Then Web 2.0 and Mobile/Social, 2007-, mostly.

@dredmorbius @TheGibson @natecull Anyway, I’m obviously speaking from an outside perspective and don’t know what was in his head, but I do know he was a much less optimistic but no less hopeful man when we met.

I also RAed for Clay Shirky at the time, when he was working on Here Comes Everybody, and it was like being student to The Vinegar Tasters. (Clay didn’t put me in the acknowledgments, though... 😒)

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull I've also been digging into the early tech critics. Shoshana Zuboff in the early 80s. Paul Baran (RAND) in the 1960s.

RAND just released his remaining nondigitised works, for free, last month, at my request.

@dredmorbius @SuzanEraslan @natecull

I have found that on occassion you catch more ants using honey.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull Oh. And Norbert Fucking Wiener.

A god.

I'd always thought cybernetics was about machine and process controls, but he very much intended it to apply to /all/ systems, including animal and human behaviour, psychology, sociology, economics.

And warned explicitly of the dangers.

He was sidelined due to his post-WWII conscientious objection to military work, and corporate criticism, in part being caught up in the Red Scare and McCarthyism.

A massive shame.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull I ask as I've been looking at money, /just what it is/, history, etc., as part of a larger assessment.

Adam Smith. Jevons. Keynes.. Frederick Soddy. /Not/ Friedman, though I likely should. Graeber. Joseph Tainter on Roman currency, etc.

Interested in what you came up with, and yes, it's pretty interesting. I'll check Life.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson @natecull Looks as if Rushkoff relied heavily on Bernard Lietaer for his money refs. Does that ring any bells?

@dredmorbius @TheGibson @natecull Can't say it does, tbh. I was doing a lot of deep dive bibliography work, so his stuff would have been a little too recent from what I can gather from his bibliography on Wikipedia, at least.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

omg Yes I remember him. Not personally, but he was out there with William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, Ray Kurzweil, and the ghost of Timothy Leary


@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Those were the BBS years for me. Just getting plugged into Usenet. the Web still only a faint a glimmer on my horizon.

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

<<a very special moment in our recent history – a moment when anything seemed possible. When an entire subculture – like a kid at a rave trying virtual reality for the first time – saw the wild potentials of marrying the latest computer technologies with the most intimately held dreams and the most ancient spiritual truths. It is a moment that predates America Online, twenty million Internet subscribers, Wired magazine, Bill Clinton, and the information superhighway.>>

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

<<Rushkoff's first book was originally penned in 1992 but was not published until 1994 due to publisher concerns that electronic mail and the Internet were still obscure topics unlikely to gain traction.>>


@natecull @TheGibson Oh, if only they hadn't, and it was still just a bunch of us dorks on BBS and chat rooms making friends all over the world.

@natecull @TheGibson He kept a pair of Timothy Leary's sneakers in his office that Leary had given to him when he knew he was dying with the note saying, "I trust you to walk in my shoes when I'm gone." 😭

I also own the toy glockenspiel that he played on "Godstar" when he was briefly in Psychic TV. Douglas is one of the greatest humans, and the reason I went to that school in the first place. They say don't meet your heroes, but in some cases, it's GREAT.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull @thegibson check out his podcast Team Human on teamhuman.fm where Rushkoff has thoughtful and deep conversations on the relationship between humanity and code. He still writes excellent books like "Throwing rocks at the Google Bus" and "Present Shock"

@frankmeeuwsen @natecull @TheGibson Yeah, and Team Human is gonna be a book— basically a manifesto on this very topic.

Y’all... I gotta get him over here on Mastodon. He would love it here.

@SuzanEraslan @frankmeeuwsen @natecull

We'd love to have him.

I don't have to tell you how much of an icon he is.


If only we could tempt him on.. :)

Even just announcements of teamhuman.fm episodes would be good.

@SuzanEraslan @Rushkoff @thegibson @natecull

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

Um... at the risk of taking the cyber-shaman thing too far...

Is that not what we are doing right now?

I believe the fediverse to be the cure to the missing future we once envisioned.

Given time, we could have the simple good we had hoped for.

@thegibson @SuzanEraslan

In 1993, I was at Bible college and wrote a paper on how I thought the future of the church was going to be on electronic discussion forums

(cos I was doing Fidonet at the time)

I don't know what my tutor made of it.

tbh that year was in the middle of my my 'finding myself 'period and I... am still somewhat lost, though maybe less so

but yeah.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

I was already so far into "occult" beliefs... I had a strange early path though...

A form of privilege in it's own right.

I grew up poor, but had just the right combination of influences to believe I could do anything.

And thus far it's worked out pretty ok.

@TheGibson @natecull I think there's more similarity between the church (at a level where you're in basically divinity school) and the occult than people want to acknowledge. The ecstasy of the divine crosses the details of belief, you know?

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Very yes.

I think that most people who have practical meditative / contemplative / psychedelic experiences are glimpsing part of the same reality. At least, from the stories I've heard, I see repeated elements that match up.

The idea that we're all united under the hood, so to speak, and it's more about how long it takes us to *realise* that.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

Damn, it feels good to know we are not alone out there.


@SuzanEraslan @TheGibson
I like to call it the transcendental nature of subjective human experience. Its fascinating.

@TheGibson @natecull Yeah, I mean, I've been on Mastodon for about a year and a half, and it often still feels like that first breath of potential and connection and the kind of globalism that's about knowing people all over the world instead of exploiting people all over the world. The global village, instead of the global factory, if you will.

As the fediverse expands, though, I've felt the tremors of the other internet, like thunder you can't hear yet but can feel, and it makes me nervous.

@natecull @TheGibson Can I be a total early internet dork though and say... THIS moment, this is the kind of thing that I had missed for so long, and I am so happy that the possibility of it exists again, and so appreciative of you, two, specifically, right this second.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

I know how you feel.

It is a spirit of joy.

It indeed brings tears, ever so sublime

@SuzanEraslan @thegibson

Thank you!

The same to you.

Recognising that that spark is still alive, it makes my day / week / month.

@natecull @SuzanEraslan

I know Susan's thunder is ever present... but we are building something good out here, in the void.

And as our generation ages, it may indeed end up being our legacy that we reclaimed the internet.

Regardless of their rules, regardless of expectation.

Simply because it was good, and right.

@TheGibson @natecull Oh, wow, even if I, personally, am never associated with such a thing, I will die really happy knowing we did that.

Let's DO that.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull

I think it's a great goal.

Achievable too.

Look, we know the silos are vulnerable... we see it daily now.

People are ready to walkaway from the spying and harassment.

And when the people like us begin to leave, their gears begin to rust.

I want to leave the rust upon their gear.

I want to be the rust upon their fears.

@SuzanEraslan @natecull @thegibson

1) I love this thread

2) I love the Federation for bringing back some of the early Internet feels back to us. I have missed them so much.

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