[TUHS] Were all of you.. Hippies?

Noel Chiappa jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Tue Mar 21 08:17:59 AEST 2017

    > From: Steffen Nurpmeso

    > This "We owe it all to the Hippies"

Well, yes and no. Read "Hackers". There wasn't a tremendous overlap between
the set of 'nerds' (specifically, computer nerds) and 'hippies', especially in
the early days. Not that the two groups were ideologically opposed, or
incompatible, or anything like that. Just totally different.

Later on, of course, there were quite a few hackers who were also 'hippies',
to some greater or lesser degree - more from hackers taking on the hippie
vibe, than the other way around, I reckon. (I think that to be a true computer
nerd, you have to start down that road pretty early on, and with a pretty
severe commitment - so I don't think a _lot_ of hippied turned into hackers.
Although I guess the same thing, about starting early, is true of really
serious musicians.)

    > "The real legacy of the 60s generation is the Computer Revolution"

Well, there is something to that (and I think others have made this
observation). The hippie mentality had a lot of influence on everyone in that
generation - including the computer nerds/hackers. Now, the hackers may have
had a larger, impact, long-term, than the hippies did - but in some sense a
lot of hippie ideals are reflected in the stuff a lot of hackers built:
today's computer revolution can be seen as hippie idealism filtered through
computer nerds...

But remember things like this, from the dust-jacket of the biography of
Prof. Licklider:

 "More than a decade will pass before personal computers emerge from the
 garages of Silicon Valley, and a full thirty years before the Internet
 explosion of the 1990s. The word computer still has an ominous tone,
 conjuring up the image of a huge, intimidating device hidden away in an
 over-lit, air-conditioned basement, relentlessly processing punch cards for
 some large institution: _them_. Yet, sitting in a nondescript office in
 McNamara's Pentagon, a quiet ... civilian is already planning the revolution
 that will change forever the way computers are perceived. Somehow, the
 occupant of that office ... has seen a future in which computers will empower
 individuals, instead of forcing them into rigid conformity. He is almost
 alone in his conviction that computers can become not just super-fast
 calculating machines, but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media
 of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of
 online information.

Now, technically Lick wasn't a hippie (he was, after all, 40 years old in
1965), and he sure didn't have a lot of hippie-like attributes - but he was,
in some ways, an ideological close relative of some hippies.


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