Information Technology, Para-Academic Research Culture, and "Post-Literary" Communication Techniques: A Materialist Cultural History of Interdisciplinary Computing

This dissertation investigates the history of North American computer culture in order to contest common narratives about its relationship to 1960s psychedelic counterculture. Theories of consciousness derived from interdisciplinary psychedelic research are frequently acknowledged as an influence on popular aesthetics and expressions of contemporary computer culture, but my dissertation argues that theories of technically mediated nonverbal communication, popularized in and through a para-academic network of counterculture veterans during the 1980s and 1990s, are actually built in to the design assumptions underlying many popular contemporary computing interfaces. While several cultural histories have examined this relationship as represented within participants’ written and oral testimonies, my dissertation will instead use digital forensics to present a technical analysis of the epistemological assumptions embodied by actual artifacts produced within the counterculture-to-computing pipeline in late twentieth century North America.