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© Whole Earth Index
© Whole Earth Index

Steve Jobs described the catalogue as one of the bibles of his generation and the analogue forerunner of search engines such as Google. He quoted from it the exhortation: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. The “Whole Earth Catalog” was an American counterculture magazine and an alternative product catalogue published by Stewart Brand, who later invented the term “personal computer”. The catalogue contained essays and articles, but focused primarily on evaluating products related to DIY, self-sufficiency, ecology and alternative education. The selection system was simple: an item was included if it was useful as a tool, contributed to education, was of convincing quality or cost little, if it was not already widely known and could easily be sent by post. Tools, machines, seeds, clothing, books and much more were tested (but not directly sold). Seen from the distance of half a century, it is easy to see that the catalogue has shaped approaches, perspectives and approaches that are now associated with the various upheavals and upheaval trends of the 1960s and 1970s – from the counterculture of the hippies to the environmental movement and the beginning of an optimistic technoculture. The catalogue, an Eldorado for tinkerers of all kinds, is said to have had a significant influence on the ideas and perspectives that would soon drive the start-up culture and Silicon Valley.

Now the Whole Earth Catalog“ and several other magazines and journals from the techno-hippie publishing house are available online for free in digital form. According to a report in „Wired“, Barry Threw, the managing director of the art collective “Gray Area” in San Francisco, led the restoration project in collaboration with the “Long Now Foundation” and the “Internet Archive”. Each Whole Earth publication can be viewed page by page and each individual issue can be downloaded as a pdf. Unfortunately, the first issue of the Whole Earth Catalogue has been lost, which is a pity as much of what appeared in this first issue was reprinted in later issues.

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