The guy here is Stewart Brand, “a Stanford-trained biologist, ex-army paratrooper, turned Ken Kesey cohort and fellow Merry Prankster who was about to become the voice of one of the most potent forces for abundance the world had yet seen: the Do-It-Yourself…innovator”:
The story goes like this: a few months after [Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test] was published, in March 1968, Brand was reading a copy of Barbara Ward’s Spaceship Earth and trying to ask a pair of questions: How can I help all my friends who are currently moving back to the land? And, more importantly, how can I save the planet?
His solution was pretty straightforward. Brand would publish a catalog in the vein of L.L. Bean, blending liberal social values, ideas about appropriate technology, ecological notions of whole systems thinking, and---perhaps most importantly---a DYI work ethic. This ethic has a long history, dating back at least as far as Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1841 essay “Self-Reliance,” resurfacing again in the Arts and Crafts renaissance of the early twentieth century, then gaining even more steam with the hot-rodding and home improvement movements of the 1950s. But the late 1960s marked the largest communal uprising in American history, with conservative estimates putting the number at ten million Americans moving back to the land. All these transplants soon learned the same lesson: agrarian success depended on one’s DYI capabilities, and those capabilities, as Brand so clearly realized, depended on one’s access to tools---and here tools meant anything from information about windmills to ideas about how to start a small business. “I was in thrall to Buckminster Fuller,” Brand recalls. “Fuller had put out this idea that there’s no use trying to change human nature. It’s been the same for a very long time. Instead, go after the tools. New tools make new practices. Better tools make better practices.”
Out of all this was born the Whole Earth Catalog…
---from Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.