Netizens, elancers, cognitarians, swarm-capitalists, hackers, produsumers, knowledge workers, pro-ams… these are just a few of the monikers that have been applied to the new social class emerging from the networked workplace.
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Dr. Richard Barbrook was educated at Cambridge, Essex and Kent universities. During the early-1980s, he was involved in pirate and community radio broadcasting. He helped to set up Spectrum Radio, a multi-lingual station operating in London, and published extensively on radio issues. In the late-1980s and early-1990s, Richard worked for a research institute at the University of Westminster on media regulation within the EU. Some of this research was later published in ‘Media Freedom: the contradictions of communications in the age of modernity’ (Pluto Press, London 1995). Between 1995 and 2005, Richard was coordinator of the Hypermedia Research Centre at the University of Westminster and course leader of its MA in Hypermedia Studies. In 1997, he was one of the founders of cybersalon.org and is now one of the directors of the Cybersalon trust. At present, Richard is a senior lecturer at the School of Media, Art & Design at the University of Westminster.
In 1995, in collaboration with Andy Cameron, Richard wrote ‘The Californian Ideology’ which was a pioneering critique of the neo-liberal politics of ‘Wired’ magazine. In the late-1990s and early-2000s, he published a series of articles exploring the impact of the sharing of information over the Net, including ‘The Hi-Tech Gift Economy’, ‘Cyber-communism’ and ‘The Regulation of Liberty’. During the last few years, he has been working on ‘Imaginary Futures’ – a book about how ideas from the 1950s and 1960s shape our early-twenty-first century conception of artificial intelligence and the information society – which will be published in English by Pluto Press and in Russian by Ultra.Cultura in early-2007. Recently, Richard helped to set up the Creative Workers in a World City group and wrote its first publication: ‘The Class of the New’ (OpenMute, London 2006). He is now engaged in further research projects in this area with other members of the CWWC group.