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Signal/Whole Earth Catalog

"Signal" is a special edition of the classic "Whole Earth Catalog" subtitled: "Communication Tools for the Information Age".

Running across this "Whole Earth Catalog," the first one I had seen in over a decade, I felt a number of things: nostalgia (oh, there's an old friend I haven't seen in a while...). And also a strange sense of superiority, like: "I've moved on and those people are *still* doing the same thing..."

Wrong! Though the style of "Signal" hearkened back to the old days, with its overall size, heavy use of graphics, and shot-gun factoid approach, the content was pure contempo (circa 1988). Even ahead of contempo.

What "Signal" had in common with the old WEC's was the ability to spark enthusiasm in the reader. With all this information crammed between two covers, the reader is always making fresh connections, blazing new synaptic pathways. Here's a sampling of topics winking at you from the cover: Electronic Democracy, Smart Phones, Free Software, Homemade Video, Home Recording, Sound Landscapes, Radio Archives, Holography, Stackware, Fax, Pirate Radio, Computer Graphics, Visual Thinking, Xerox and Mail Art, Media Rooms, HyperCard, Databanks. All This and More!

The "Whole Earth approach" has always been important to us and was a significant influence on the "Beyond Cyberpunk!" project. The power of gathering thoughts and resources in one place, in a form conducive to conceptual cross-pollination, is very much a power tool for inspiration, education, and action.

(P. Sugarman)


Whole Earth Review
PO Box 38
Sausalito, CA 94966
(415) 332-1716
1988, $18

Here is the TEXT POPUP for Signal/Whole Earth Catalog:

(From the introduction by Stewart Brand)

"Society is led, Buckminster Fuller used to tell us geezers, by design ideas which emerge in the "outlaw area." That became Whole Earth's domain. Some of the outlaw areas we reported on, such as communes and psychedelic research, were inventive and significant, but short-lived. Some, such as solar energy and environmentalist concerns, eventually went mainstream. And one major area, communication technology, simultaneously went mainstream and expanded its outlaw edge.

Information technology is a self-accelerating fine-grained global industry that sprints ahead of laws and diffuses beyond them. It has done so for twentyfive years and shows every sign of being able to keep dodging for another twentyfive, if not indefinitely. Hence Whole Earth's abiding, and now focussed, interest."

Other publications available from Whole Earth:

The Fringes of Reason (1989)
Another specialty WEC dealing with fringe science and kooky belief systems. Beautiful desktop design with excellent essays and resources. Highly recommended. $16

Whole Earth Ecolog (1990)
A resource guide of information and resources on ecology and sustainable lifestyles. $17

Whole Earth Review
Quarterly magazine of tools and ideas. $20/4 issues

Helping Nature Heal (1991)
A guide to Environmental Restoration. $16

News That Stayed News (1986)
Collection of essays from CoEvolution Quarterly. $17

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Gareth Branwyn -

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