In honour of the 50th anniversary of his classic book, The Making of a Counter Culture (1969), Dr John Lenarcic and Dr Pradip Sarkar (RMIT School of Business IT and Logistics) present an overview of the big ideas of American historian and public intellectual Theodore Roszak (1933-2011)
'Remember what the Dormouse said: Feed your head. Feed your head.' Jefferson Airplane (1967)
Theodore Roszak (1933-2011) was an American historian and public intellectual. He is best known for his 1969 book, The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and Its Youthful Opposition. Counterculture defines both a way of life and a set of viewpoints contradicting the predominant social norm. Prominent examples of this in Europe and North America include Romanticism (1790-1840), Bohemianism (1850–1910) and the Beat Generation (1944-1964) as well as more globalised exponents of the phenomenon in the form of hippie subcultures (1964-1974) and the diversified punk scene of the 1970s and 1980s.
It could be argued that the emergence of personal computing in its original incarnation was heavily influenced by the utopian ideals of 60s American counterculture. Subsequent commodification of information technologies eventually curtailed this initial momentum toward the greater good. Roszak was an early critic in a similar vein with his 1986 text, The Cult of Information: The Folklore of Computers and The True Art of Thinking, which in its 1994 revised and updated version was subtly re-titled The Cult of Information A Neo-Luddite Treatise on High-Tech, Artificial Intelligence, and the True Art of Thinking. Pessimism was seemingly on the rise and the writing was on the cover, not the wall.