The Long Now seminar series

13 Nov 2003 - 7:48pm
10 years ago
2 replies
526 reads
Josh Seiden
2003

This organization is doing some profound and profoundly
moving thinking about time, civilization, technology,
and our shared future.

There are perhaps interaction design challenges here,
but I thought many on this list would be interested in
this in a more general sense. (And, since I just posted
a Boston-based event, this one is for the westies out
there.)

You have perhaps heard of the 10,000 year clock
project, an attempt to build a clock that will run for
10,000 years.

In some ways, the problem is a classic design and
engineering problem. How do you build a clock that will
tell accurate time for 10,000 years? How will it be
powered? How will it be maintained? Who will inherit
responsibility for it? Will they share our values? How
can we communicate those values?

In some ways, it's a response to the kind of short-term
thinking that brought us the Y2K problem, and so is a
direct response to the digital "age."

But is it an interaction design problem? Perhaps a more
interesting is what can interaction design tell us that
it relevant to this problem?

JS
-----Original Message-----

The Long Now Foundation has lined up some interesting
speakers to talk
about, well, long-term stuff.

http://www.longnow.org/10klibrary/Seminars.htm

When: The second Friday of each month starting on
November 14th, 02003

Time: Coffee bar opens at 7pm, lecture begins promptly
at 8pm. (With an
unticketed lecture it is advisable to come early for a
good seat.)

Where: Ft. Mason, San Francsico

Donations: A $10 donation is very welcome, but NOT
required. (Cash or
check accepted at the door)

Why: The purpose of the series is to build a coherent,
compelling body of
ideas about long-term thinking, to help nudge
civilization toward Long
Now's goal of making long-term thinking automatic and
common instead of
difficult and rare.

Who: Confirmed Speakers so far include: Brian Eno,
Peter Schwartz, George
Dyson, James Dewar, Rusty Schweikart, Daniel Janzen,
David Rumsey, Paul
Hawken, Laurie Anderson, and Danny Hillis.

The scheduled speakers so far are as follows:

2nd Fridays in 02003
Nov. 14 - Brian Eno
"The Long Now"

Dec. 12 - Peter Schwartz
"The Art of the Really Long View"

2nd Fridays in 02004

Jan. 9 - George Dyson
"There's Plenty of Room at the Top: Long-term Thinking
About Large-scale
Computing"

Feb. 13 - James Dewar
"Long-term Policy Analysis"
(Dewar is head of RAND's new Pardee Center on very
long-term policy---35
to 200 years)

Mar. 12 - Rusty Schweickart
"The Asteroid Threat Over the Next 100,000 Years"

Apr. 9 - Daniel Janzen
"It's ALL Gardening"
(Janzen is the famed preservation biologist based in
Costa Rica)

May 14 - David Rumsey
"Mapping Time"

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Comments

14 Nov 2003 - 2:21pm
Tristan Naramore
2003

I will be attending Brian Eno's talk at Fort Mason tonight. I'm glad
Joshua brought up the interaction dimension, as I hadn't considered
that relevant before. I will keep it in mind tonight. The 10,000 year
clock is a pure analog device. Daniel Hillis, who invented the first
practical parallel processing computer, designed an ingenious analog
computer to keep this clock aligned with the sun and other astronomical
observations.

Besides the engineering hurdles, the most interesting aspect of this
undertaking will be the formation of a cabal of clock keepers charged
with passing knowledge from generation to generation, for millennia to
come. The Long Now folks figure that no other form of information
storage can last that long in a usable fashion. Think about it: How
many of us have computers that can read the 5 1/4" floppies from only
two decades ago? How many of us can read Aramaic? Cuneiform?

To hedge their bets, the Long Now Clock will be situated near a
library. So the future of our collective knowledge may be in the hands
of a few librarians!

Cheers,
Tristan Naramore

...........................................................
tristan e. naramore interface design
...........................................................
w: InterfaceConsultant.com
e: tritisan at pacbell.net
m: 415-867-4190
h: 415-388-5351
...........................................................

On Thursday, November 13, 2003, at 04:48 PM, Joshua Seiden wrote:

> This organization is doing some profound and profoundly moving
> thinking about time, civilization, technology, and our shared future.
>  
> There are perhaps interaction design challenges here, but I thought
> many on this list would be interested in this in a more general sense.
> (And, since I just posted a Boston-based event, this one is for the
> westies out there.)
>  
> You have perhaps heard of the 10,000 year clock project, an attempt to
> build a clock that will run for 10,000 years.
>  
> In some ways, the problem is a classic design and engineering problem.
> How do you build a clock that will tell accurate time for 10,000
> years? How will it be powered? How will it be maintained? Who will
> inherit responsibility for it? Will they share our values? How can we
> communicate those values?
>  
> In some ways, it's a response to the kind of short-term thinking that
> brought us the Y2K problem, and so is a direct response to the digital
> "age."
>  
> But is it an interaction design problem? Perhaps a more interesting is
> what can interaction design tell us that it relevant to this problem?
>  
> JS
>
> -----Original Message-----
>
>
> The Long Now Foundation has lined up some interesting speakers to talk
> about, well, long-term stuff.
>
>
> http://www.longnow.org/10klibrary/Seminars.htm
>
> When: The second Friday of each month starting on November 14th, 02003
>
> Time: Coffee bar opens at 7pm, lecture begins promptly at 8pm. (With an
> unticketed lecture it is advisable to come early for a good seat.)
>
> Where: Ft. Mason, San Francsico
>
> Donations: A $10 donation is very welcome, but NOT required. (Cash or
> check accepted at the door)
>
> Why: The purpose of the series is to build a coherent, compelling body
> of
> ideas about long-term thinking, to help nudge civilization toward Long
> Now's goal of making long-term thinking automatic and common instead of
> difficult and rare.
>
> Who: Confirmed Speakers so far include: Brian Eno, Peter Schwartz,
> George
> Dyson, James Dewar, Rusty Schweikart, Daniel Janzen, David Rumsey, Paul
> Hawken, Laurie Anderson, and Danny Hillis.
>
> The scheduled speakers so far are as follows:
>
> 2nd Fridays in 02003
> Nov. 14 - Brian Eno
> "The Long Now"
>
>
> Dec. 12 - Peter Schwartz
> "The Art of the Really Long View"
>
>
> 2nd Fridays in 02004
>
> Jan. 9 - George Dyson
> "There's Plenty of Room at the Top: Long-term Thinking About
> Large-scale
> Computing"
>
>
> Feb. 13 - James Dewar
> "Long-term Policy Analysis"
> (Dewar is head of RAND's new Pardee Center on very long-term
> policy---35
> to 200 years)
>
>
> Mar. 12 - Rusty Schweickart
> "The Asteroid Threat Over the Next 100,000 Years"
>
>
> Apr. 9 - Daniel Janzen
> "It's ALL Gardening"
> (Janzen is the famed preservation biologist based in Costa Rica)
>
>
> May 14 - David Rumsey
> "Mapping Time"
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

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16 Nov 2003 - 12:53am
Tristan Naramore
2003

Brian Eno Long Now Foundation Talk, Observations and Reactions

(Caveat: This subject matter may be a bit outside of the realm of
interaction design. Read at your leisure.)

Last night, I was lucky enough to attend Brian Eno's talk at the lovely
Ft. Mason in San Francisco. Even though I'd arrived 45 minutes early, I
barely got in, thanks to a friend of a friend who spotted me in line
and invited me to join them further ahead. Just inside the exhibit hall
was a beautifully constructed and lit Annie Leibewitz exhibit. The
flowing, expansive, tent-like structures that enclosed the
lucite-framed photographs actually reminded me of Eno's music. How
fitting. Past the exhibit, in the back of the old Navy hanger, a
section had been walled off and filled with chairs. Pity they couldn't
have made this space larger to accommodate the mass of fans who
couldn't fit.

Stuart Brand, of Whole Earth Catalog fame, introduced the diminutive,
bald Eno. At first, he seemed a bit shy, uncollected. His lavalier mike
wasn't getting his voice well enough, so he had to grab the big mike,
and complained about how it would restrict his gesticulations. Soon
after, he found his rhythm and for the next hour and a half, fascinated
the 700+ audience members with the story of how Long Now came to be.

In a nutshell, when Eno moved to New York City in the late '70s, he was
struck by how limited people's sense of both time and space where.
Their sense of "now" only a day, their sense of "here" only within the
walls of their flats. In response, Eno composed slow, peaceful and
quiet music. Music that was meant, in part, to transport the listener
beyond his/her limited, ego-bound existence and place them into a
larger context: The Long Now. In the early '90s, Eno collaborated with
Stuart Brand and Danny Hillis to more fully realize the idea of the
Long Now. The foundation was born, and the 10,000 year clock its first
project.

At some points in his talk, Eno used an overhead projector (!) to
display pictures or hand-drawn lists. I think he was fully aware of the
irony, as most of the projections were meant as comic relief. Nope, no
fancy 4-D space visualization here; just Eno's wicked British wit. At
one point, he asked the sound op to play a track off his Music for
Airports CD. A few minutes later he commanded, "turn that crap off!"

The Big Idea, as I understand it, is that modern humanity, particularly
in the West, has become too focused on short-term goals and gains. This
includes everyone from fast food employees to politicians. While some
traditional cultures think in larger time frames, like the Australian
aboriginals who consider their actions in the context of seven
generations past and future, we've become short-sighted. And the
tragedy is that our collective behavior will probably lead to our
undoing. Unless, we start to institute and encourage and engender a
sense of belonging to a much larger picture.

The 10,000 year time frame was chosen to reflect the amount of time we
humans have been civilized. What if we were in the middle of a 20,000
year slice of time? Though it's impossible and foolish to try to
predict what will happen over the ensuing millennia, it is sobering to
think of how our actions, both individually and collectively, will
change the world for our progeny. The existence of a structure that's
consciously designed to last this huge span of time, and even
accurately track this span, should serve to remind many generations
their place in time. (Imagine if explorers of an Egyptian pyramid found
a working clock deep inside one of the chambers that said it was the
year 2,800!)

Eno was asked by an audience member if he could think of any examples
of this kind of long-term thinking in an existing project. He told us
about New College, in England, which is over 500 years old. A few
decades ago, the thick oak beams that supported the ceiling were
rotting and needed replacing. The headmaster asked the head gardner if
they had access to good wood on the campus. The gardner replied that
the college's builders had indeed planted a grove of trees specifically
for this purpose, 500 years earlier.

So, what does any of this have to do with our profession? I'm not sure.
But I know that I find it profoundly relaxing to let my mind wander
outside the confines of this day-to-day, paycheck-to-paycheck world,
and explore deep time.

I hope this crazy clock gets built within my lifetime, so that I can
make a pilgrimage to a mountain in Nevada and wind the clock with my
own hands.

Tristan Naramore

> On Thursday, November 13, 2003, at 04:48 PM, Joshua Seiden wrote:
>
>> This organization is doing some profound and profoundly moving
>> thinking about time, civilization, technology, and our shared future.
>>  
>> There are perhaps interaction design challenges here, but I thought
>> many on this list would be interested in this in a more general
>> sense. (And, since I just posted a Boston-based event, this one is
>> for the westies out there.)
>>  
>> You have perhaps heard of the 10,000 year clock project, an attempt
>> to build a clock that will run for 10,000 years.
>>  
>> In some ways, the problem is a classic design and engineering
>> problem. How do you build a clock that will tell accurate time for
>> 10,000 years? How will it be powered? How will it be maintained? Who
>> will inherit responsibility for it? Will they share our values? How
>> can we communicate those values?
>>  
>> In some ways, it's a response to the kind of short-term thinking that
>> brought us the Y2K problem, and so is a direct response to the
>> digital "age."
>>  
>> But is it an interaction design problem? Perhaps a more interesting
>> is what can interaction design tell us that it relevant to this
>> problem?
>>  
>> JS
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>>
>>
>> The Long Now Foundation has lined up some interesting speakers to talk
>> about, well, long-term stuff.
>>
>>
>> http://www.longnow.org/10klibrary/Seminars.htm
>>
>> When: The second Friday of each month starting on November 14th, 02003
>>
>> Time: Coffee bar opens at 7pm, lecture begins promptly at 8pm. (With
>> an
>> unticketed lecture it is advisable to come early for a good seat.)
>>
>> Where: Ft. Mason, San Francsico
>>
>> Donations: A $10 donation is very welcome, but NOT required. (Cash or
>> check accepted at the door)
>>
>> Why: The purpose of the series is to build a coherent, compelling
>> body of
>> ideas about long-term thinking, to help nudge civilization toward Long
>> Now's goal of making long-term thinking automatic and common instead
>> of
>> difficult and rare.
>>
>> Who: Confirmed Speakers so far include: Brian Eno, Peter Schwartz,
>> George
>> Dyson, James Dewar, Rusty Schweikart, Daniel Janzen, David Rumsey,
>> Paul
>> Hawken, Laurie Anderson, and Danny Hillis.
>>
>> The scheduled speakers so far are as follows:
>>
>> 2nd Fridays in 02003
>> Nov. 14 - Brian Eno
>> "The Long Now"
>>
>>
>> Dec. 12 - Peter Schwartz
>> "The Art of the Really Long View"
>>
>>
>> 2nd Fridays in 02004
>>
>> Jan. 9 - George Dyson
>> "There's Plenty of Room at the Top: Long-term Thinking About
>> Large-scale
>> Computing"
>>
>>
>> Feb. 13 - James Dewar
>> "Long-term Policy Analysis"
>> (Dewar is head of RAND's new Pardee Center on very long-term
>> policy---35
>> to 200 years)
>>
>>
>> Mar. 12 - Rusty Schweickart
>> "The Asteroid Threat Over the Next 100,000 Years"
>>
>>
>> Apr. 9 - Daniel Janzen
>> "It's ALL Gardening"
>> (Janzen is the famed preservation biologist based in Costa Rica)
>>
>>
>> May 14 - David Rumsey
>> "Mapping Time"
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Interaction Design Discussion List
>> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
>> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
>> --
>> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
>> already)
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
>> --
>> http://interactiondesigners.com/
>
> _______________________________________________
> Interaction Design Discussion List
> discuss at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
> http://discuss.interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
> --
> Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements
> already)
> http://interactiondesigners.com/announceList/
> --
> http://interactiondesigners.com/

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