Back in the '60s, Marshall McLuhan preached that the power of big business and big government would be overthrown by the intrinsically empowering effects of new technology on individuals. Many hippies were influenced by the theories of McLuhan and believed that technological progress would automatically turn their non- conformist libertarian principles into political fact. The convergence of media, computing and telecommunications, they trusted, would inevitably result in electronic direct democracy - the electronic agora - in which everyone would be able to express their opinions without fear of censorship.
Encouraged by McLuhan's predictions, West Coast radicals became involved in developing new information technologies for the alternative press, community radio stations, home-brew computer clubs and video collectives. During the '70s and '80s, many of the fundamental advances in personal computing and networking were made by people influenced by the technological optimism of the new left and the counter-culture. By the '90s, some of these ex-hippies had even become owners and managers of high-tech corporations in their own right and the pioneering work of the community media activists has been largely recuperated by the hi-tech and media industries.