The Internet imaginaire

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MIT Press, 2007 - Computers - 255 pages
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Winning entry, General Trade Cover/Jacket Category, in the 2008 New England Book Show sponsored by Bookbuilders of Boston.

In The Internet Imaginaire, sociologist Patrice Flichy examines the collective vision that shaped the emergence of the Internet葉he social imagination that envisioned a technological utopia in the birth of a new technology. By examining in detail the discourses surrounding the development of the Internet in the United States in the 1990s (and considering them an integral part of that development), Flichy shows how an entire society began a new technological era. The metaphorical "information superhighway" became a technical utopia that informed a technological program. The Internet imaginaire, Flichy argues, led software designers, businesses, politicians, and individuals to adopt this one technology instead of another.

Flichy draws on writings by experts用aying particular attention to the gurus of Wired magazine, but also citing articles in Time, Newsweek, and Business Week庸rom 1991 to 1995. He describes two main domains of the technical imaginaire: the utopias (and ideologies) associated with the development of technical devices and the depictions of an imaginary digital society. He analyzes the founding myths of cyberculture葉he representations of technical systems expressing the dreams and experiments of designers and promoters that developed around information highways, the Internet, Bulletin Board systems, and virtual reality. And he offers a treatise on "the virtual society imaginaire," discussing visionaries from Teilhard de Chardin to William Gibson, the body and the virtual, cyberdemocracy and the end of politics, and the new economy of the immaterial.

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Contents

Introduction
1
Information Highways or the Difficulty of Transforming a Utopia
17
The Internet the Scientific Communitys Ideal
35
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Patrice Flichy is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Marne de la Vallee, France.