Blog Archive for the year 02010

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Long Now Media Update

Posted on Thursday, December 23rd, 02010 by Contessa Trujillo
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Rachel Sussman’s “The World’s Oldest Living Organisms”

There is new media available from our monthly series, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Stewart Brand’s summaries and audio downloads or podcasts of the talks are free to the public; Long Now members can view HD video of the Seminars and comment on them.

Long Now Media Update

Posted on Monday, December 20th, 02010 by Contessa Trujillo
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(downloads tab)

Rick Prelinger’s
“Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 5”

There is new media available from our monthly series, the Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Stewart Brand’s summaries and audio downloads or podcasts of the talks are free to the public; Long Now members can view HD video of the Seminars and comment on them.

Rick Prelinger, “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 5”

Posted on Monday, December 20th, 02010 by Stewart Brand
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Lives of San Francisco

A Summary by Stewart Brand

“You are the soundtrack,” Prelinger told the capacity audience at the Herbst Theater, and they responded to his mostly silent archival films by calling out locations, questions, comments, and jokes.

They saw footage of a 1941 Market Street parade of allies—floats representing Malta, Russia, France, Britain—and Kezar Stadium hosting a ferocious mock battle/demonstration of Army cannon, troops, and tanks in 1942 and huge naval ships parked at the waterfront piers in 1945.

Sailors cruised the Barbary Coast in 1914 and amateurs piloted gliders from the vast beach dunes of the Sunset district in 1918 (looking just like the hang-gliders of 90 years later). There was a sky tram at the Cliff House and…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary here.

Where does the data go when the host dies?

Posted on Friday, December 17th, 02010 by Heather Ryan
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yahoo is de-rezzing.

In the wake of the crumbling Yahoo! behemoth and the clamor of mass Delicious data dumps, it’s worthwhile to stop and ask ourselves just how “archived” is the data that we create and share in these free hosting sites? What kind of promises do these sites make to preserve our information and to care about the hundreds of hours we spend uploading, tagging, and arranging it? In the case of Yahoo! and all of its affiliate sites, none whatsoever.

The funny thing is, we were warned about this over two years ago. In January 2009, the Archive Team said in no uncertain terms, “Please do not use Yahoo or Yahoo-owned sites for any non-retrievable personal data.” You may have heard of the Archive Team when they made their herculean effort to download the Geocities sites before Yahoo! closed them down in October of 2009. And it looks like the Archive Team is on the case again. According to their organizer, Jason Scott’s tweets yesterday, they are looking at ways to archive Delicious. Let’s hope they can.

In the meantime, read their article, “Why Back Up?

And learn about how you can help.  The Archive Team have some excellent projects going to help mitigate some of the nastier effects of the Digital Dark Age, well worth taking a look at them…

Philip K. Howard Ticket Info

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 02010 by Contessa Trujillo
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Philip K. Howard on Fixing Broken Government

Philip K. Howard on “Fixing Broken Government”


Tuesday January 18, 02011 at 7:30pm Cowell Theater at Fort Mason

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! &#8226 General Tickets $10

About this Seminar:

Philip K. Howard is a conservative who inspires standing ovations from liberal audiences (short example here.) He says that governance in America—from the capitol to the classroom—has achieved near-total dysfunctionality by accumulating so many layers of piecemeal legalisms that the requirements of navigating them has replaced any hope of getting actual justice or effectiveness. Most attempts to fix the problems have made them worse. Howard thinks they can be fixed in a way that restores core functionality.

Howard is the author of Life Without Lawyers (2009) and Death of Common Sense (1994) and is the founder and chair of Common Good, a reform advocacy nonprofit.

The Lego Antikythera Mechanism

Posted on Thursday, December 9th, 02010 by Simone Davalos
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The Antikythera Mechanism, pulled from the depths of a 1st or 2nd century wreck off the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera, is the oldest known complex scientific calculator. From the moment it was discovered it baffled scientists and historians who wonders what the provenance and purpose of such a machine could have been, especially since a machine of that complexity didn’t enter into the historical record for another thousand years.

Hypotheses abounded: it was an orrery, it was a navigational device, it was a method of contact with extraterrestrial beings that left it as a gift for the human race. It has only been over the last fifty years that any headway at all on what the device did has been made, and, to the great disappointment of the alien conspiracists, what it actually does is probably way cooler for such an ancient culture than anything the aliens might have left.

The machine tracks complicated interactions between heavenly bodies, such as eclipses, and does it all with gears and cams and a healthy helping of deep-fried awesome. Sound familiar?

These guys have taken interest in the mechanism to a beautiful, meticulous extreme, and have constructed one out of Lego.

Here is a time lapse of how the video was made, which is just as neat as the actual video:

The Clock of the Long Now is right up there in elegance of design with the Antikythera mechanism, although of course this author is biased. The Greeks, however, have the sheer engineering bad-ass advantage, as they made their machine without PTC Pro Engineer.

For more information about the history of and research on the Antikythera Mechanism, please see the very fine Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, a multi-national collaboration of scientists and historians, which drops mad science from a huge variety of fields.

[Thanks to Boing Boing for the original video link]

David Eagleman’s new iPad-only book: Why the Net Matters

Posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 02010 by Austin Brown
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After his SALT talk for Long Now called Six Easy Steps to Avert the Collapse of Civilization, David Eagleman mentioned his interest in writing an entire book on the subject. Kevin Kelly suggested he make it an iPad book, though they both acknowledged they didn’t really know what that meant at the time. Eagleman spent the intervening months working it out and has just announced release of the result:

Why have societies before us collapsed? Do we face the same fate? In his new book, Why the Net Matters, Long Now board member David Eagleman (author of international bestseller Sum) proposes that the invention of the internet averts the major existential threats that brought down those before us. By demonstrating how the internet can contend with epidemics, natural disasters, tyranny, energy depletion and other maladies, Eagleman shows how our existential equations have changed forever.

Why the Net Matters represents a novel step into the future of digital publishing: it is written as an iPad app that introduces a new way to navigate a non-fiction narrative. By offering random-access chapters, interactive 3D figures, and the ability to zoom in and out of the details of the argument, this represents a new direction for digital publishing.

Why the Net Matters is available on the iTunes store.

Long Quotes: Peter Thiel

Posted on Monday, December 6th, 02010 by Tyler Emerson
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Quotes related to long-term thinking. Have a favorite quote? Share it with us in comments.

“We’ve had a loss of the sense of the frontier. We have to reclaim that.”
Peter Thiel

Emerald Observatory iPad app

Posted on Friday, December 3rd, 02010 by Paul Saffo
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This is my hands-down favorite clock for the iPad, and could well be the coolest astronomic/civil clock I’ve ever seen:

Emerald Observatory has everything a time geek could ever want, plus everything an astro geek would want, all in a stunningly elegant interface.

[decription below from Emerald]
Emerald Observatory displays a wealth of astronomical information all on one screen, in a unique but understandable format.

  • Times of rise and set for the Sun, the Moon, and the 5 classical planets
  • Times of the beginning and ending of twilight
  • Heliocentric orrery (display of the planets in orbit around the Sun)
  • Altitude and azimuth for the same bodies (one body at a time)
  • Current phase and apparent orientation and relative size of the moon
  • Current regions of day and night on a world map
  • The Equation of Time, solar time, UTC time, and sidereal time
  • Month, day, year, and leap-year indicator
  • Daily alarm
  • Displayed times are synchronized via NTP to “atomic clock” standard
  • Uses iPad location, or the latitude and longitude may be set manually

A setting is available to allow the display to stay on continuously.

Tap on the display to move forward by a month, day, year, or minute.

If you are having any trouble with the application whatsoever, please see our FAQ on the support page listed below and then contact us through that page if your problem is not resolved. We take pride in responding promptly to all support email requests.

Is Kurzweil’s future arriving?

Posted on Tuesday, November 30th, 02010 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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John Rennie over at IEEE Spectrum has an excellent article on Ray Kurzweil’s 108 predictions for 02009 from his book Age of Spiritual Machines.  Ray Kurzweil is an avid and fearless predictor who also logged the first of our Long Bets with Mitch Kapor.  I think it is great that people are taking the time to do an analysis of the predictions, and finding out how sticky it can sometimes be to adjudicate such things.

Kurzweil also stands by his claim that computer displays built into eyeglasses would project images into users’ eyes because some such systems do exist, and says, “The prediction did not say that all displays would be this way or that it would be the majority, or even common.” Similarly, he defends his claim that translation software would be “commonly used” to allow people speaking different languages to communicate by phone by pointing to smartphone apps that emerged at the end of 2009. He allows that one could quibble about how “common” their use is. [read the complete article]

Wherever you fall on these issues, I think Kurzweil deserves praise for making public predictions, along with those like Rennie and Annisimov who take any predictor to task.