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Richard Barbrook
Ars Electronica
Richard Dawkins
Douglas Rushkoff
Californian Ideology

When The Ice Melts
part 1

As this century draws to its close, the rapid development of hypermedia has rekindled a sense of optimism within the developed world. For almost two decades, we have been facing a failure of imagination and creativity. Despite the end of the Cold War, western societies haven't even been able to protect their existing welfare provisions let alone advance further towards the good society. As expressed in the nihilism of post-modernism, we have lost faith in the universal values which were to be realised through the 'grand narrative' of history. Rejecting praxis, commitment and hard thinking, intellectuals have instead proclaimed the triumph of fatalism, apathy and triviality. All that was left for us to do was "play with the pieces" inherited from earlier and more inventive times.

Suddenly, after the long night of neo-liberalism, the arrival of the Net has signalled the recommencement of the emancipatory project of modernity. As the process of digital convergence accelerates, divisions between different professions are being broken down. The structural rigidities of Fordism are being replaced by more flexible and informal methods of working. People are acquiring new skills and creating innovative forms of artistic expression. With cheaper global communications, they are discovering how easy it is becoming to work and play together across time and space. Even the right of every citizen to disseminate their own media is in the process of finally being realised.

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