Beyond Californian Ideology: Tech Communities and Alternative Imaginaries of Deep Mediatization

Guest-edited by:


In their 1996 publication of the same name, Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron characterized what they called the “Californian ideology” as a combination of “the free-wheeling spirit of the hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies” (Barbrook & Cameron 1996: 44). At its core, this Californian ideology is defined by the notion of a society characterized simultaneously by libertarian markets, alternative ideas of community and individual freedom—shaped by technology more than other social forces. Such notions were driven by networks such as those that emerged around the Whole Earth Catalog, and later, Wired magazine (Turner 2006), which communicated these ideas far beyond the American West Coast. Many of today’s platforms and digital infrastructures, which drive the current “deep mediatization” (Hepp 2020) of society, were created in the spirit of such an ideology, supported by ideas of “global scalability” of once found “technical solutions”.

At the same time, there were groups early on that seem to be opposed to such ideas. Examples of this are the Hacker, Open Source, or Civic Hacking movements, which are interested in critically questioning tendencies of commercialization. Such groups exert their influence by developing alternative “sociotechnical imaginaries” (Jasanoff & Sang-Hyun 2015) about possible futures – thus creating a space of possibility. However, if one also looks at emerging communities today such as the Maker, Quantified Self, or Biohacking movements, it becomes evident that many “alternative” imaginaries are closely interwoven with the Californian ideology. On closer inspection, the boundaries do not appear to be so easily drawn; there are manifold connections, fractures, affinities, and differences in the various communities.

Against this background, the aim of this special issue is to look at different technology-oriented communities and to ask what “alternative imaginaries” of a deeply mediatized society they develop as well as what their possible impact on future developments might be.

Submissions should address questions like these:

  • What imaginaries of possible futures are tech communities developing?
  • In which areas are they experimenting and which future developments are they opening up?
  • Where is a Californian ideology reproduced in the practices and discourses of these communities?
  • How does the departure to other models and concepts of technological development succeed?

Formatting and Requirements

To be considered for this collection, a paper should range between 6,000 and 8,900 words (all-inclusive, which includes the abstract, keywords, images with captions, footnotes, references, and appendices, if any) must be submitted by October 31, 2021 to the editors and adhere to the following formal requirements:

  • Formatting according to the most recent version of the APA style-guide (including in-text citations and references).
  • Any endnotes should be converted to footnotes.
  • Papers must include the author(s) name(s), title, affiliation and email-address. (Your paper will subsequently be anonymized for double-blind peer review.)
  • All articles should include an abstract of 150 words.
  • All spelling must be rendered in American English. To change British or Commonwealth spellings to their American equivalents, please see the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.
  • See “Author Guidelines/Submission Preparation Checklist” at

Any papers that do not follow these guidelines will not be submitted for peer review.

The International Journal of Communication is an open access journal ( All articles will be available online at the point of publication. The anticipated publication timeframe for this Special Issue is October 2022.

Contact Information

All submissions should be uploaded to by October 31, 2021. Late submissions will not be included for consideration.