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". Later he wrote Imaginary Futures, a book about how ideas from the 1950s and 1960s shape the early-twenty-first century conception of artificial intelligence and the information society. He 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.
- Media Freedom: The Contradictions of Communications in the Age of Modernity, London: Pluto Press, 1995.
- The Class of the New, London: OpenMute, 2006. 
- Die Klasse des Neuen: ein "Kreativarbeiter in einer Weltstadt"-Projekt, ed. Gerin Trautenberger, trans. Valie Göschl, Vienna: Neue Arbeit, 2009, 193 pp. (German)
- Imaginary Futures: From Thinking Machines to the Global Village, London: Pluto Press, 2007, 334 pp. 
- Futuros imaginários: das máquinas pensantes à aldeia global, São Paulo: Peirópolis, 2009, 447 pp. , English introduction. (Brazilian Portuguese)
- Przyszłości Wyobrażone: od myślącej maszyny do globalnej wioski, trans. Jan Dzierzgowski, Muza SA, Warsaw: Muza, 2009, 368 pp. English introduction. (Polish)
- Class Wargames: Ludic Subversion Against Spectacular Capitalism, Minor Compositions, 2014, 444 pp.
- with Andy Cameron, The Internet Revolution: From Dot-com Capitalism to Cybernetic Communism, Amsterdam: Institute of Network Culture, 2015, 51 pp.
- with Andy Cameron, "The Californian Ideology", Mute 1:3, London, Sep 1995; revised, Science as Culture 6:1, 1996, pp 44-72, HTML. A critique of dotcom neo-liberalism. Wikipedia.
- "Die kalifornische Ideologie", trans. Florian Rötzer, Telepolis, 5 Feb 1997. (German)
- "A kaliforniai ideológia", trans. Anna Lengyel, in Buldózer: Médiaelméleti antológia, eds. Ágnes Ivacs and János Sugár, Budapest: Media Research Foundation, Oct 1997. (Hungarian)
- "L'idéologie californienne", trans. Pierre Blouin, Hermès. (French)
- "Californian Ideology: Il dogma liberista della classe virtuale", trans. Anna Fata, POL.it, Genova, Jul 2001, HTML. Interview.  (Italian)
- "A Ideologia Californiana", trans. Marcelo Träsel, rev. Giselle M.S. Ferreira, in Educação e Tecnologia: abordagens críticas, eds. Giselle Martins dos Santos Ferreira, Luiz Alexandre da Silva Rosado, and Jaciara de Sá Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro: SESES, 2017, pp 565-597; repr. as A Ideologia Californiana: uma crítica ao livre mercado nascido no Vale do Silício, trans. Marcelo Träsel, intro. Leonardo Foletto, União da Vitória: Monstro dos Mares, 2018, 43 pp.  (Brazilian Portuguese)
- "Global Algorithm 1.5: Hypermedia Freedom", ctheory, 15 May 1996; revised version in Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates and Pirate Utopias, ed. Peter Ludlow, MIT Press, 2001, pp 47-58.  A critique of Barlow's Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace.
- "La liberté de l'hypermédia", Libres Enfants du Savoir Numérique, c2001. (French)
- "The Hi-Tech Gift Economy", First Monday 3:12, 7 Dec 1998. Analyses how the anarcho-communist ideals of 1960s and 1970s community media activists influenced the development of the Net. 
- "L'économie du don High Tech", Libres Enfants du Savoir Numérique, c2001. (French)
- "Cyber-Communism: How the Americans are Superseding Capitalism in Cyberspace", Nettime, 6 Sep 1999, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4; revised version, Science as Culture 9:1, 2000, pp 5-40, HTML. Developed from a talk given at the 1998 Legacy of McLuhan conference at Fordham University, New York. . Response: Ted Byfield (Nettime).
- "Киберкоммунизм: что американцы готовят на смену капитализму в киберпространстве", trans. Елены Мариничевой, Kompyuterra 21 (2000). (Russian)
- "Le cyber-communisme, ou le dépassement du capitalisme dans le cyberespace", trans. Patrice Riemens, Multitudes 5 (May 2001). (French)
- "The Regulation of Liberty", Telepolis, 14 Sep 2000.  Explains why legal prohibitions can't prevent the growth of the hi-tech gift economy.
- Willem van Weelden, "An Interview with Richard Barbrook and Mark Dery", Nettime, Sep 1996.