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Christine Evans-Pughe in The Guardian

This review was published in the Technology Section of The Guardian, 7th July, 2007.

“Barbrook has an amusing take on our distorted − if not delusional − relationship with technology, but his underlying point is serious: future visions of technology are used to distract us and also control us, and if we forget these imaginary futures, we are likely to repeat them.”

Read Christine Evans-Pughe’s review.

John Barker in Science as Culture

This review was published in Science as Culture, Number 4, Volume 16, 2007, pages 481-488.

“By giving us the history of intellectuals thriving on an ahistorical view of the world, and what this view leads to, [Barbrook] has given depth to the critique that began with The Californian Ideology, and provided the tools to see through new versions of the same, however attractively packaged. The imaginary future is an area of contestation.”

Read John Barker’s review.

Bruce Robinson in Solidarity

This review was published in Solidarity & Workers’ Liberty, 3rd December 2007.

“The book tells an important story well. The left should neither forget the history and ideology of the Net in a blaze of techno-enthusiasm, nor simply retreat into “neo-Luddism?. Telling the story of the past of the future is a useful aid to orienting ourselves in the “Information Age?.”

Read Bruce Robinson’s review.

Armin Medosch in The Next Layer

This review was written for ORF – the Austrian public service broadcaster – in October 2007.

“Doch Imaginary Futures ist der Beleg, dass Barbrook als Autor wie als Theoretiker eine neue Reifephase erreicht hat. Dieses Buch ist vor allem eine Geschichtslektion…. Mit seiner Analyse öffnet er uns die Augen dafür, warum es möglich ist, dass der Rahmen der heutigen Diskussion nach wie vor aus einer Zeit stammt, deren damalige Parameter sich eigentlich völlig überlebt haben. Barbrook liegt auch da richtig, wo er sowohl die Befürworter als auch die Gegner der High-Tech-Zukunft dafür kritisiert, im Grunde demselben technologischen Determinismus aufzusitzen.”

Read Armin Medosch’s review in German.

Sarah Snider in Culture Wars

This review was posted on Culture Wars, 30th May 2007.

“Imaginary Futures shows how technology has itself been, and is still, mediated by competing versions of the future. The parallax of time allows us to turn correlation into causality, retroactively instilling agents with intentionality, and actions with meaning.”

Read Sarah Snider’s review.

James Heartfield in Spiked

This review was posted on Spiked, Issue 2, June 2007.

“Barbrook’s analysis of the Cold War left is not meant as historical scholarship alone, but to shine a light on the Blairite Third Way and other contemporary echoes, as he makes clear in his last chapter, ‘Those who forget the future are condemned to repeat it’. Though a critic of technology fetishism, Barbrook wants to win back control of IT for the people, and is interested in user remodification …”

Read James Heartfield’s review.

Pat Kane in The Play Ethic

This review was posted on The Play Ethic, 31st March 2007.

“Richard Barbrook, workers cap firmly in place, has been at nearly every decent cyber-event I’ve attended in London for the last ten years. I thought this book was going to be called the Dotcommunist Manifesto, but it’s come up as this – a kind of recent archeology of various techno-futurisms. … Recommended reading.”

Read Pat Kane’s review.

Iain Boal in Mute

This review was posted on Mute, 18th April, 2008.

“Barbrook frames Imaginary Futures – billed as the (oneiric) history of artificial intelligence, the information society, and their confluence in the Net – within his own personal trajectory, from Cold War America to post-Big Bang London. At the same time, he constructs it by means of an interesting visual conceit as a kind of return, thanks to the collage artistry of Alex Veness, whose ‘retro-fabulous’ illustrations interlard each chapter. The last image in Imaginary Futures has Barbrook once again standing in front of the Unisphere. Not in holiday shorts and sandals this time, but, forty odd years on, in working denim. The checkered shirt and proletarian cap seem intended to draw our attention away from his occupation as a lecturer in Hypermedia Studies and suggest a workerist identification with Europe’s traditional artisanate, albeit with arms folded in a gesture of repose or supervision.”

Read Iain Boal’s review.

In an ironic twist, at the height of the cold war, the US military was funding the invention of cybernetic communism.