Tag Archives | utopia

Inside Henry Ford’s Failed Planned-City Jungle Utopia

fordistanDamn Interesting on the forgotten history of Henry Ford’s surreal Fordlandia, a rubber-plantation-slash-corporate-city in the Amazon where workers would have American values stamped into them, and which was ultimately abandoned at a loss equivalent to $200 million today:

By the late 1920s, automobile tycoon Henry Ford’s hundreds of thousands of new cars needed millions of tires, which were very expensive to produce when buying raw materials from the established rubber lords. To that end, he established Fordlandia, a tiny piece of America which was transplanted into the Amazon rain forest for a single purpose: to create the largest rubber plantation on the planet.

In 1929, Ford purchased a 25,000 square kilometer tract of land along the Amazon river, and immediately began to develop the area.

Scores of Ford employees were relocated to the site, and an American-as-apple-pie community sprung up from what was once a jungle wilderness. It included a power plant, a hospital, a library, a golf course, and rows of white clapboard houses.

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The Internet As The New Religion

The New Inquiry on the Internet as a god to be worshipped:

The relentless enthusiasm that cyber-utopians have for the potential of new technologies to transform the world often borders on religious fervor. In the case of Wired’s founding editor Kevin Kelly, it is literally true. After experiencing a religious awakening at the age of 27, Kelly now professes a unique form of Christianity that sees profound spiritual implications in technological progress. He believes that as our networks become more interconnected and our software becomes more intelligent, a vast planetary consciousness will emerge, knitting together our infrastructure into a sublime artificial mind that will inspire religious devotion.

Although this sounds far-fetched, current discourse about the Internet confirms the general prediction. We may not discuss the Internet as a planetary consciousness from on high, but we increasingly reify it as if it were a singular, invisible agency like God. This discourse heralds not the return to explicit belief that Kelly hoped for; instead, belief in Web divinity appears more subtly, slipping into everyday language in enthusiastic, worshipful comments like “This is why I love the Internet!”

The logic at work here is an obvious extension of the longstanding slogan of Internet activists, “Information wants to be free,” which assigns agency to information in a way that a more humanistic phrasing, like “Information ought to be free,” would not.

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Living In A Biodome In The Arizona Desert

USA_SCI_BIOSPH_01_xs_FINALCabinet Magazine looks at one of the strangest experiments in American history, the Biosphere, a Lord of the Flies-style misadventure in utopian scientific overoptimism that spawned a terrible Pauly Shore movie and a fad diet:

At 8:15 am on 26 September 1991, eight “bionauts,” as they called themselves, wearing identical red Star Trek–like jumpsuits (made for them by Marilyn Monroe’s former dressmaker) waved to the assembled crowd and climbed through an airlock door in the Arizona desert. They shut it behind them and opened another that led into a series of hermetically sealed greenhouses in which they would live for the next two years.

The three-acre complex of interconnected glass Mesoamerican pyramids, geodesic domes, and vaulted structures contained a tropical rain forest, a grassland savannah, a mangrove wetland, a farm, and a salt-water ocean with a wave machine and gravelly beach. This was Biosphere 2—the first biosphere being Earth—a $150 million experiment designed to see if, in a climate of nuclear and ecological fear, the colonization of space might be possible.

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