Emerson will discuss her current two-part book project, titled OTHER NETWORKS, and how it moves through both technical and user-based accounts of networks that outside of or before the Internet, asking both how and for whom each network works (in this case the “whom” will mostly be writers and artists). The project then looks at how the shift from rhetoric that celebrates liberationism via telecommunications networks in the 70s and 80s to rhetoric that calls for libertarianism via the Internet starting in the early to mid-90s may have actually been a kind of release of a repression. While you can trace an almost complete reversal of the meaning of ‘free’ and ‘open’ in relation to distributed networks to communitarian and even socialist, networks in the early 70s such as Community Memory and Project Cybersyn, you can also trace an even earlier reversal – perhaps the true seed of what’s called “cyberlibertarianism” – to the 1960s, in the conceptualization and design of ARPANet and ARPA-related networks that, in the spirit of the managerial theory of the day (just as much or perhaps more than in the spirit of the 1960s counter-culture), emphasized creativity, cooperation, and community. In short, the history of how the Internet came to be has yet to be told and it’s truly anything but linear and uninterrupted.
Lori Emerson is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She writes on digital literature, experimental American and Canadian writing from the 20th and 21st century, history of computing, and media theory. You can find some of her published essays here. In addition to directing the Media Archaeology Lab she has two forthcoming book projects currently in press. The first is a monograph, ReadingWriting Interfaces: From the Digital to the Bookbound (forthcoming from University of Minnesota Press, Spring 2014). The second is The Johns Hopkins Guide to Digital Humanities, co-edited with Marie-Laure Ryan and Benjamin Robertson (forthcoming 2014). Emerson is also co-editor, with Derek Beaulieu, of Writing Surfaces: The Selected Fiction of John Riddell (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013) and co-editor, with Darren Wershler, of The Alphabet Game: a bpNichol Reader (Coach House Books 2007).