“Splendors and miseries of the cybermonde”, by Michaël Fœssel

What do Neal Cassady, the lost poet of the Beat Generation, and Xi Jinping, the current President of the People’s Republic of China, have in common? What is the relationship between the libertarian imagination of the beatniks and the construction of the “great computer wall” (Great Firewall) who should make it possible to keep the Chinese people safe from Western influences, while at the same time organizing their surveillance? At the beginning a desire to cross all borders, at the end the triumph of cyber control. Between the two, and like a common thread between two so different eras, the invention of the internet: a technology that has become embedded in our lives to the point of becoming one with them.

“Internet, year zero” tells a story made of improbable encounters and denials, where protesting writers rub shoulders with researchers in cybernetics and where the utopias of a world without war are developed in laboratories under contract with the American army. . Engineer in his thirties, familiar with the computerized world of start-ups, Jonathan Bourguignon wanted to understand where this imaginary of connection came from, which has become so natural to those who, like him, have known no other world than the one governed. through networks.

At the beginning, that is to say after the Second World War, there is San Francisco, its valley and its prophets. Like Tom Wolfe in “Acid Test” (1968), Bourguignon narrates the peregrinations of American psychedelic groups in search of experiences a

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