In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212:
For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who later wrote for Wired magazine, zine, recalled the day in 1971 when he saw his first copy of the Catalog: “I was instantly enthralled. I’d never seen anything like it. We lived in a small redneck neck town in Virginia-people didn’t think about such things as `whole systems’ and `nomadics’ and `Zen Buddhism.’… The Whole Earth Catalog changed my life. It was my doorway to Bucky Fuller, Gregory Bateson, whole systems, communes, and lots of other things that formed a foundation tion to a world model I’ve been building ever since.
This is a conduit to variety (where to go, what to do and who to be) which had an enormous direct and indirect cultural impact. What interests me is the reception of this variety by individuals: how did it change lives? How did it lead people to conceive of their present differently? How did it lead them to imagine different futures?
These are subtle questions which resist capture through quantitative measures, representing personal transformations which the individual themselves might not always narrativize in a straightforward manner. But conduits for variety is a concept I’m using to conceive of how media forms contribute to change in individual lives, including the social change ensuing from their aggregated actions as well as any subsequent participation in collective change.