Posted on March 6th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
We want to share some of the details about The Interval, our public space in San Francisco which opens this Spring. We’ve planned a series of updates that will include an introduction to our Chalkboard Robot, more about Brian Eno’s sound & light installations in the space, documentation of the final construction work, and details on when the doors of The Interval will open, later this year.
First we’d like to tell you about our Chime Generator Table, which will be a centerpiece at The Interval. The Chime Generator prototype itself was a much-enjoyed feature at the first incarnation of our public space. Here it is back in 02006 on the opening day of Long Now’s old Museum and Store:
At the 02006 opening of Long Now’s Museum and Store, photo by Scott Beale
This functioning Chime Generator is a prototype at about one tenth the scale of the one that is now being built for the Clock of the Long Now. The mechanism rings a series of ten bells, utilizing an algorithm designed by Long Now Board members Danny Hillis and Brian Eno to vary the order each day for more than 3.5 million permutations in total. This allows our Clock to play a different bell sequence for nearly every day of the next 10,000 years.
Over the years we have used both tubular bells (seen above) and metal “singing bowls” to demonstrate how the Clock will generate its daily song. For its life as a table, we’ve designed around the mechanism itself. While it is not built to last 10,000 years, this prototype did a vital job in proving a concept that we are now using in building the full-sized Clock. Now it has a job to do at The Interval.
As a table, the Chime Generator will be both a functioning piece of furniture and a museum artifact. As shown below, it awaits a slab of plate glass which will be placed on top. When you visit The Interval you can set your coffee or cocktail down and gaze into the inner workings of this piece of our Clock design. We hope it inspires as many questions and conversations as it has bell ringing permutations.
We have only weeks left to finish our fundraising for this space, and are currently about $100,000 short of our goal. We’re asking for your help: please consider donating to support this project. Any amount you can give brings us closer to the finish line! We have unique gifts to offer our donors, amongst other benefits. As an Interval supporter, you’ll be the first to hear news about the venue, you can suggest books for the Manual for Civilization and vote on other submissions, and best of all, you’ll receive invitations to our special pre-opening parties, the very first events at The Interval!
Here’s one more shot of the Chime Generator, this time with singing bowls attached, from the Anathem release event in 02008. It shared the stage with Long Now co-founders Stewart Brand and Danny Hillis, as well as Anathem author Neal Stephenson, who is himself a donor to our Interval ‘brickstarter’.
Posted on March 5th, 02014 by Mikl Em
In October 02010 Lera Boroditsky spoke for Long Now on How Language Shapes Thought in a talk that resonates with the Rosetta Project, Long Now’s language preservation project.
Lera Boroditsky is a cognitive scientist at UC San Diego (and was previously at MIT and Stanford). She has been named one of 25 Visionaries changing the world by the Utne Reader; other honors include being named a Searle Scholar, a McDonnell scholar, and an NSF Career award. She is Editor in Chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology.
In How Language Shapes Thought Boroditsky presents fascinating insights into the relationship between languages and thought. Drawing directly from her own work and other contemporary research, the questions she addresses include: whether those who speak different languages think differently? Does learning a new language shape the way you think? Do multilingual individuals think differently when speaking different languages? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language?
From Stewart Brand’s summary of the talk (in full here):
Time is the most common noun in the English language said Boroditsky. (Followed by person, year, way, and day.) Time is often expressed as travel in space: “We’re coming up on Christmas.” But some languages put the future in front of us, and others put it behind us. For Aborigines that Boroditsky studied in north Australia, time and sequence gets blended into their profound orientation to the cardinal directions. They don’t use relative terms like “left” and “right,” but absolute compass terms (There’s an ant on your southwest leg), and they have extraordinary orientation skills.
She cites a wide range of languages and research from around the world in a scientific tour through cultures and cognition that includes a few experiments with the audience at the Seminar. This is a fun and accessible talk filled with 02000′s pop cultural references like Dick Cheney’s quail hunting mishap and “Freedom Fries”–Boroditsky even has some helpful tips on how to better annoy the French.
The Seminars About Long-term Thinking series began in 02003 and is presented each month live in San Francisco. The series is curated and hosted by Long Now’s President Stewart Brand. Seminar audio is available to all via podcast.
Posted on March 4th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
Long Now’s Founding Board Member Stewart Brand suggested more than 70 volumes for our Manual for Civilization collection. The Manual will be housed within The Interval at Long Now, our new public space which opens to the public this Spring.
The 3500 books that comprise the Manual for Civilization will serve as the library component of The Interval. A dominant feature, seen immediately upon entering and even visible from outside, on shelves stretching floor to ceiling and set amongst the large scale mechanical prototypes of our 10,000-Year Clock, the Manual will present a compelling image for visitors to our space.
As construction of The Interval at Long Now nears completion, our fundraising continues. We are in the final stretch of the capital campaign to fund renovations to our San Francisco space that not only houses The Interval but also Long Now’s offices.
If this venue, its unique library, and all its other features capture your imagination, please consider a donation at any level. You can be a part of giving long-term thinkers a beautiful place to gather, full of amazing books. Also please spread the word to others you think would appreciate this project.
Writer, futurist, environmentalist and Long Now co-founder, Stewart Brand keeps three personal libraries. In the last month he walked us through all of them and carefully selected books for the list below. It is a remarkable list of titles old and new.
From the Epic of Gilgamesh to contemporary science fiction. Homer’s epics and Beowulf, Lao Tzu and Machiavelli. But also Brian Fagan’s The Long Summer: How Climate Changed Civilization and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman from 02011. There are many past Long Now Seminar speakers: Ian Morris, Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker and Verner Vinge to name only a few. And no less than 6 novels by the British Science Fiction author Iain M. Banks, who passed away last year.
Keep in mind that like Brian Eno’s list and others we’ll be posting soon, this is not intended as a standalone set of books, but as part of the larger corpus of thousands of texts that we are assembling. That collection will include submissions from Long Now members and the donors to our ‘brickstarter’ campaign to help build the Long Now’s Interval (formerly referred to as Long Now Salon).
Together these books assemble knowledge essential for us to maintain, extend and (if needed) recreate what humans have achieved thus far. Here are Stewart Brand’s recommendations:
Many thanks to Stewart for taking the time and care to recommend these books for our collection.
As we approach The Interval opening this Spring, we will continue this series of lists suggested by friends and associates of Long Now for the Manual. You’ll see books recommended by Neal Stephenson, Violet Blue, Kevin Kelly, Megan & Rick Prelinger, and Danny Hillis.
To add your own recommendations of books to include in the Manual for Civilization and vote on which suggested titles should find a place on The Interval’s shelves, just make a donation to support the project. All donors, at any level, can suggest and vote on books.
We look forward to your contributions!
Posted on March 3rd, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
Today we are proud to introduce you to The Interval. You know it already as “The Long Now Salon.” But all along we knew our new space at Fort Mason in San Francisco needed a name all its own.
The Interval will be a bar, museum, event venue, cafe, and archive. A welcoming public space and a gathering place for The Long Now Foundation’s fans, friends, and members.
An interval is a measure of time or the space between. An intervening period, a pause within time that is in a way time-less. Long Now’s mission is to foster long-term thinking and responsibility. And implicitly we want to change the way people perceive time. All times intersect at The Interval: a place for longer nows, discussing the future, enjoying the present, celebrating the past.
The Interval opens very soon, in just a matter of weeks. We need your help to complete the funding for this unique venue. Our ‘brickstarter’ campaign has raised more than two-thirds of what’s needed, but we still have about $100,000 to go as we finish construction and approach opening.
Recent progress includes installing new doors at the entrance to The Interval:
Every donation helps bring this new space to life. And we have devised some special ways to say “thanks” for your tax-deductible gift. These include special events just for donors in the first days of The Interval, Long Now gifts, and special “bottle keep” drinks at the venue. All the details are here.
Soon we’ll have exciting announcements about Brian Eno’s sound and visual design for the space, more about the Manual for Civilization, our chalkboard robot, the opening date, pre-opening events and the amazing cocktail & cafe menus we’ll be serving.
We invite you to join the list of hundreds of supporters including Long Now’s Board, past speakers, eminent authors, artists, scientists, and people around the world. Every gift helps us toward our goal.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) July 9, 2013
Posted on March 3rd, 02014 by Andrew Warner
Where do the boldest innovations, with the deepest consequences for society, come from?
Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and libertarians claim that the private sector leads the way always, and government at best follows by decades and at worst impedes the process with bureaucratic regulations.
Mariana Mazzucato proves otherwise. Many of the most profound innovations—from the Internet and GPS to nanotech and biotech —had their origin in government programs developed specifically to explore innovations that might eventually attract private sector interest. Governments can take on multi-decade, slow-payoff, ambitious projects where most businesses cannot. The process works pretty well now. How can it work better?
Mazzucato is a professor of the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths.
Posted on February 28th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
Twenty books suggested by Long Now’s Founding Board Member Brian Eno form the first in a series of reports on additions to our Manual for Civilization collection. This library will eventually include 3,500 books you would most want to sustain or rebuild civilization. The Manual needs your help to get built! Please make a donation so we can purchase these books and the shelves they go on. The Manual will be a central feature of our new space that opens later this year. Here are Brian Eno’s recommendations:
We need your help to finish this library. There are only weeks left to finish our fund raising and we need to raise at least another $100,000. Please make a donation to support this project and get direct access to the book recommendation and voting engine for the Manual for Civilization.
Once the Salon is open we hope to have events where people can argue a new book in OR out of the collection. It will be a living collection that evolves over time. The Internet Archive has generously agreed to serve as the digital backup repository of the collection so that anyone with internet access can “check out” the books, or use the list to help create their version of the archive.
You can see more about this project on the original Manual for Civilization blog post. Soon we will need to begin collecting the actual books for our shelves, and will be asking for book donations from our edited list. We hope that we can get many of these books from our community so that we don’t have to purchase too many new books.
Posted on February 27th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
Monday February 24, 02014 – San Francisco
Because the talk revolves around and discusses the specifics of what is still an on-going investigation, there will not be any recording of any kind–audio or visual, of this Seminar. Thank you for your understanding.
Iraq’s National Museum in Baghdad had been closed to the public by Saddam Hussein for over two decades when his regime fell in April 02003. Iraqis felt no connection to the world renowned cultural treasures inside. Like every other government building, it was trashed and looted.
Marine Col. Matthew Bogdanos, then in Basra leading a counter-terrorism group, volunteered part of his team to attempt recovery of the lost artifacts. He arrived at the museum with 14 people to protect its dozen buildings and 11 acres in a still-active battle zone. Invited by the museum director, they took up residence and analyzed the place as a crime scene.
Missing were some of civilization’s most historic archeological treasures. From 3200 BC, the Sacred Vase of Warka, the world’s oldest carved stone ritual vessel. From 2600 BC, the solid gold bull’s head from the Golden Harp of Ur. From 2250 BC, the copper Akkadian Bassetki Statue, the earliest known example of lost-wax casting. From 3100 BC, the limestone Mask of Warka, the first naturalistic depiction of a human face. From 800 BC, the Treasure of Nimrud— a fabulous hoard of hundreds of pieces of exquisite Assyrian gold jewelry and gems. Plus thousands of other artifacts and antiquities, including Uruk inscribed cylinder seals from 2500 BC.
Bidding on the international antiquities black market went to $25,000 for Uruk cylinder seals, $40 million for the Vase of Warka.
Since the goal was recovery, not prosecution, Bogdanos instituted a total amnesty for return of stolen artifacts—no questions asked, and also no payment, just a cordial cup of tea for thanks. Having learned from duty in Afghanistan to listen closely to the locals, Bogdanos and his team walked the streets, visited the mosques, played backgammon in the neighborhoods, and followed up on friendly tips (every one of which turned out to be genuine). 3,000 items had been taken from the museum by random looters. Local Iraqis returned 95% of them.
The prime pieces stolen by professional thieves took longer to track down. Raids on smuggler’s trucks and hiding places turned up more items. The Bassetki Statue was found hidden in a cesspool; the Mask of Warka had been buried in the ground. Some pieces began turning up all over the world and were seized when identified. (Bogdanos noted that Geneva, Switzerland, is where that kind of contraband often rests in warehouses that law enforcement is not allowed to search.)
It turned out Saddam himself had looted the museum of the Treasure of Nimrud and the gold bull’s head back in 01990. Tips led to a flooded underground vault in the bombed-out Central Bank of Iraq, and the priceless items were discovered.
Everything found was returned to the Iraq National Museum, where the great antiquities are gradually being restored to public display. Iraq, and the world, is retaking possession of its most ancient heritage.
Bogdanos quoted Sophocles: “Whoever neglects the arts… has lost the past and is dead to the future.”
(This talk was neither recorded nor filmed, because material presented in it is part of a still on-going investigation. You can get the full story from Bogdanos’ excellent book, Thieves of Baghdad.)
Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.
Posted on February 24th, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
This August, a pioneer in space exploration returns to Earth after more than 30 years of service. The spacecraft is still in good, functioning condition, and could possibly be assigned to another mission. Sadly, however, we seem to have forgotten how to speak its language.
The probe, a collaboration between NASA and ESA, was one of three crafts launched in 01978 to study the the interaction between solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere. Named the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3), it was the first-ever object to be sent into heliocentric orbit at the first Lagrangian point – a particular location between Earth and Sun, where our planet’s gravitational force cancels out the Sun’s pull in such a way that a satellite essentially orbits in tandem with Earth.
Upon completion of its mission in 01983, the probe was repurposed and re-christened: now called the International Cometary Explorer (ICE), it circled the moon a few times to gather speed, and then flew off to chase after two comets. ICE intercepted comet Giacobini-Zinner in 01985 before catching up with Halley’s comet in 01986, and making history as the first spacecraft to study two comets directly.
After a brief third mission to study coronal mass ejections, NASA officially decommissioned the probe and shut down communications with its systems. Nevertheless, the agency discovered in 02008 not only that ICE had failed to power off, but also that 12 of its 13 instruments were still functioning. They entertained the idea of sending ICE off to study another corner of the Solar System – only to learn that the equipment needed to communicate with ICE is no longer available, and too cost-prohibitive to rebuild. The Planetary Society’s Emily Lackdawalla explains:
Several months of digging through old technical documents has led a group of NASA engineers to believe they will indeed be able to understand the stream of data coming from the spacecraft. NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) can listen to the spacecraft, a test in 2008 proved that it was possible to pick up the transmitter carrier signal, but can we speak to the spacecraft? Can we tell the spacecraft to turn back on its thrusters and science instruments after decades of silence and perform the intricate ballet needed to send it back to where it can again monitor the Sun? The answer to that question appears to be no.
For the past 15 years, ICE has been patiently orbiting the Sun at a speed slightly higher than that of Earth. Now that it’s catching up with us again from behind, researchers realize there’s much more exploration that ICE could have helped us with. Unfortunately, we simply don’t seem capable of mustering the resources we need to communicate with ICE. Lackdawalla muses,
I wonder if ham radio operators will be able to pick up its carrier signal – it’s meaningless, I guess, but it feels like an honorable thing to do, a kind of salute to the venerable ship as it passes by.
Posted on February 20th, 02014 by Mikl Em
This is the debut of a new feature on our blog. A couple times a month we’ll highlight a past Long Now Seminar About Long-term Thinking (SALT). We’ll start with a talk from a year ago. Author and technologist Chris Anderson spoke about The Makers Revolution in February 02013.
Audio of our SALT series is always available free for everyone on our Seminar pages and via podcast. We host full video of the 12 most recent Seminars free for everyone, too. Long Now members can see all our Seminar videos in HD.
The Makers Revolution is a recent SALT talk. It will be free for public viewing until late March 02014.
Chris Anderson has been a journalist, author, and entrepeneur. He was the Editor in Chief of Wired Magazine, wrote for The Economist for seven years, and his books include The Long Tail, Free, and Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. He is the CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones.
In his Long Now talk The Makers Revolution Anderson takes us step-by-step from the 19th century Industrial Revolution to present day. Desktop publishing, PostScript, factory automation, supply chain innovation, globalization, 3D Printing, Cloud Manufacturing, and the failings of the doll house furniture industry all feature along the way. He relates his own generational maker journey: as a child learning invention & making from his father and grandfather to now manufacturing at home with his kids.
From Stewart Brand’s summary of this Seminar (in full here):
Since 02006, Maker Faires, Hackerspaces, and TechShops (equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers, and CAD design software) have proliferated in the US and around the world. Anderson said he got chills when, with the free CAD program Autodesk 123D, he finished designing an object and moused up to click the button that used to say “Print.” This one said “Make.” A 3D printer commenced building his design.
Here’s a short video clip from the Seminar:
The Seminars About Long-term Thinking series began in 02003 and is presented each month live in San Francisco. The series is curated and hosted by Long Now’s President Stewart Brand. Seminar audio is available to all via podcast.
Watch full video of this SALT talk until late March 02014. See full video of the 12 most recent Seminars on our website. Only Long Now members can access ten years of Seminars in HD. Membership starts at $8/month and includes lots of benefits. Join Long Now today.
Posted on February 14th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
Since their inception in 02003, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking have featured over 100 speakers from a wide range of disciplines. Curated by Stewart Brand, each of these Seminars address some aspect of long-term thinking. From the ideas presented and discussed in the live event, he crafts a summary which captures and elucidates these ideas. A few days after a Seminar, this summary gets posted to the SALT list and blog, but we also collect these distillations in a book, “The SALT Summaries”. Every six months we update the Kindle eBook with the most recent Seminars, and we wanted to let our readers know how they can now update their Kindle book.
After you login to your Amazon account, go to the Manage Your Kindle page. On that page, you should see the cover of the book with an update option hovering above it. If you click update, the update should transfer to all of your devices. Thank you for supporting the Seminars About Long-term Thinking.
Ideas about Long-term Thinking.