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Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, June 5th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Oceanic

Tuesday May 20, 02014 – San Francisco

 

Video is up on the Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys Seminar page.

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Audio is up on the Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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Oceans alive – a summary by Stewart Brand

Neither of them eats fish.

Both marine biologists applaud the improved regulation of American fishing and the resulting recovery of important fisheries, but they note that 90% of our seafood is imported, and one-third of that is caught illegally. Two-thirds of global fisheries are overfished. Eating a tuna, Earle points out, is like eating a wolf or a tiger. It is a magnificent predator often decades in age. We no longer commercially harvest wildlife on land. Why do we do it in the sea?

Noting that 15% of land has become protected in the last 100 years, the speakers said we have just started on protecting the ocean. About 3% is now protected, in 8,000 Marine Protected Areas. The goal is 20% by 2020. One hero of the movement is Palau’s president Tommy Remengesau, who this year declared that commercial fishing would be banned in its entire ocean economic zone—230,000 square miles. Likewise New Caledonia just created a 500,000 square mile “Natural Park of the Coral Sea.”

Ocean science keeps yielding profound discoveries. A sea-going photosynthetic bacteria named Prochlorococcus was identified as recently as 1986, yet it may be the most abundant photosynthetic species on Earth, responsible for 5-10% of all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Without their ancestors we wouldn’t exist. Deep-diving Earle noted that daylight only reaches about 1,000 feet down in the ocean. Most of the world’s life therefore lives in total darkness, and “bioluminescence is the most common form of communication on Earth.”

Thys observed that the greatest need is for coordinated, consistent remote-sensing in the ocean, and that is increasingly being provided by small robots that travel on their own on and under the surface, sending their data to satellites as well as cabled observatories. Small satellites also are multiplying, providing daily, detailed information from above. Citizen science is growing along with the Maker movement.

“Life came from the ocean,” Thys concluded. “And the life in it continues to nurture life everywhere. We owe the ocean some nurture back.”

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Rachel Sussman in San Francisco: The Oldest Living Things in the World

Posted on Friday, May 30th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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from Rachel Sussman's The Oldest Living Things in the World - Baobab

Rachel Sussman spoke in our Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT) series in 02010 when she was about halfway into her project to document the world’s oldest living things. She traveled the world to learn about and photograph organisms that have lived 2000 years or more. This year she published her book The Oldest Living Things in the World and it is now on the New York Times Best Seller list.

June 02014 Long Now welcomes Rachel back to San Francisco for two very special events.

June 12th, 02014 come see Rachel and fellow photographer Mario Del Curto with Corey Keller (SFMOMA) discussing photography and the natural world: Nature as Image. Long Now is proud to partner to bring this event to swissnex in downtown San Francisco. More information and tickets.

On June 13th Rachel appears at The Interval, Long Now’s new venue at Fort Mason, to talk about her book and the decade-long experience of creating it. This will be the second in a new series of small salon-style talks at Long Now’s new home. Tickets are now on sale.
Rachel Sussman, photo by Laura Holder
The Oldest Living Things in the World adds in dramatic manner a fascinating new perspective—literally, dinosaurs—of the living world around us
Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

Sussman’s ten-year investigation of the symbols of the earth’s ecology is rigorous and exploratory, realized with such generosity to the reader and her ambitions make an impossibly vast subject both felt and understood
— Charlotte Cotton, curator & author

With vision and dedicated persistence — think of a hip, female Shackelton — she has tracked down and brought these organisms to our awareness in lush photographs (taken with 6×7 film camera) and vivid text
Adam Harrison Levy, Design Observer

Longevity means continuity. Long-lived people connect generations for us. Really long-lived organisms, like the ones Sussman has magnificently collected photographically, connect millennia. They put all of human history in living context. And as Sussman shows, they are everywhere on Earth.
This book embodies the Long Now and the Big Here.
Stewart Brand, co-founder of Long Now

from Rachel Sussman's The Oldest Living Things in the World - Bristlecone

Rachel Sussman’s photographs and writing have been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Guardian, and NPR’s Picture Show. She has spoken on the TED main stage and is a MacDowell Colony and NYFA Fellow, as well as a trained member of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries in the US and Europe, and acquired for museum, university, corporate, and private collections.

Photos by Rachel Sussman from her book The Oldest Living Things in the World

Photo of Rachel Sussman by Laura Holder

 

Stefan Kroepelin Seminar Tickets

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Stefan Kroepelin presents Civilization’s Mysterious Desert Cradle: Rediscovering the Deep Sahara

Stefan Kroepelin presents “Civilization’s Mysterious Desert Cradle: Rediscovering the Deep Sahara”

TICKETS

Tuesday June 10, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

Egypt’s pharaonic civilization rose on the Nile, but it was rooted in the deep Saharan desert and pushed by climate change, says Stefan Kröpelin.

Described in Nature magazine as “one of the most devoted Sahara explorers of our time,” Kröpelin has survived every kind of desert hardship to discover the climate and cultural history of northern Africa. He found that the “Green Sahara” arrived with monsoon rains 10,500 years ago, and people quickly moved into the new fertile savannah. There they prospered as cattle pastoralists—their elaborate rock paintings show herds of rhinoceros and scenes of prehistoric life—until 7,300 years ago, when gradually increasing desiccation drove them to the Nile river, which they had previously considered too dangerous for occupation.

To manage the Nile, the former pastoralists helped to invent a pharaonic state 5,100 years ago. Its 3,000-year continuity has never been surpassed.

Kröpelin, a climate scientist at the University of Cologne, is a dazzling speaker with hair-raising stories, great images, and a compelling tale about climate change and civilization.

The Interval: Long Now’s New Home

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Orrery-front

The Interval at Long Now is almost ready for you to visit. We’ve shown you design comps and construction images before, but at last we can share photos of the real thing. Almost the real thing. There’s still some more work to do, but the end is in sight.

We’d like to thank to everyone who made this project possible especially our donors. Your support at every level helped us build a place where Long Now’s fans, members, and the public can gather. But more than that The Interval is also Long Now’s headquarters, our offices are right upstairs. And we are so proud that this beautiful space is our new home!

Our funding goal is also in sight. There’s still time to become a charter donor. At any level you choose to give, charter donors names will be listed on our donor wall and you’ll get invites to some pre-opening parties, amongst other benefits.

Now we’d like to show you around with a brief photo tour of some of the features that we think make The Interval special. All photos are by Because We Can, the fantastic design-build team we’ve worked with on the Interval renovation. Their work and that of our builders, Oliver & Company, have been essential to making The Interval a reality.

The Interval view from the backroom

In 02006 we moved into Fort Mason Center, a campus of former military buildings on the north shore of San Francisco which now houses arts groups and non-profits. Our building dates to the 01930s, the youngest at the Fort by 20 years.

The room we are in was originally a forge and machine shop. When we began to convert our old museum and store space into The Interval, we discovered the shop’s original concrete floor and knew we could never cover it up again.

The-Interval-bar-chairs-floor-view-sm

The floor’s industrial imperfections somehow match perfectly with the natural variances in the specially quarried stone that serves as our bar top.

The long stone bar of The Interval at Long Now

On the ceiling above the bar you’ll find The Interval’s “bottle keep” featuring custom-made bottles by Adams & Chittenden Scientific Glass.

The Interval bottle keep closeup

Each bottle represents a generous donor who helped fund The Interval. At our pre-opening party just for bottle club donors, they can choose whether to fill their bottle with limited edition gin or whiskey, or instead select a rare, aged pu-erh tea. Both exclusive spirits are made for us by St George Spirits, while the tea is sourced by Samovar Tea Lounge.

And if you’d like a bottle of your own, or give at any level there’s still time to give to The Interval. Everyone who gives in May will get charter donor benefits including invites to various pre-opening events in the next three weeks.

The-Interval-Ambient-Painting-bottles

The bright, slowly changing object behind the bar is an original creation of Brian Eno. One of a very limited set of “ambient paintings”, this is the only one in America and the only one on permanent public display anywhere.

Interval-ambient-painting-closeup

Similar to Eno’s 77 Million Paintings and his “Lighting the Sails” project at the Sydney Opera House, this generative artwork continuously evolves in different patterns, never repeating itself in millions of vivid chromatic combinations.

light+Eno

Below Brian explains the background of his interest in generative art. The footage also includes many examples of his work that are similar to what you will see at The Interval.

Brian created music especially for The Interval, which will be played on our Meyer Galileo 616 system. More details about The Interval’s incredible sound system will be featured on the blog soon.

Chime-Generator-Chairs-view

As you may know, Brian Eno is a co-founder of Long Now and sits on our Board. Another distinctive feature of The Interval comes from his work enabling our 10,000 Year Clock to play a different bell sequence every day for ten millennia. Eno and Danny Hillis designed an algorithm that will ring over 3.5 million unique bell sequences from 10 bells.

The Interval: view through the chime generator

The Chime Generator is the mechanism that controls the bell sequence. An analog computer featuring a series of beautifully machined geneva wheels, it manages the Clock’s daily algorithmic song production. A decade ago we built a one tenth scale prototype of the Chime Generator. For The Interval we’ve converted that prototype into a table–a museum piece that you can also rest your drink on.

The Chime Generator Table seen from above

Chime-Generator-Staircase-back-view-sm

We’ve posted a lot recently about the Manual for Civilization, our project to select 3,500 books that could help sustain or rebuild civilization. The Interval will be the home of this collection with bookshelves stretching from floor to ceiling. In addition to selecting the books, we need to acquire them. That’s one of the continuing costs that tax-deductible donations to The Interval brickstarter will help us fund.

Interval-Manual-History-of-Technology

The Manual won’t just live at The Interval. Thanks to our partners at the Internet Archive the books will also be available in their online collection. The list of books is growing with the help of our donors, members and some special guests. You can follow our blog for the latest details.

Interval-Manual-Revolution

As exciting as these pictures are, what’s missing are the people. Our first donor events start within the week. Please consider a donation if you’d like to join in the opening celebrations. Regular day and evening hours begin in June, and public events will start imminently.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peek at what The Interval has in store–you’ll find even more images on our Flickr. We look forward to sharing more details in the weeks ahead and we can’t wait to welcome you to our new home: The Interval at Long Now.

Tony Hsieh Seminar Media

Posted on Sunday, May 11th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Helping Revitalize a City

Tuesday April 22, 02014 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Hsieh Seminar page.

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Audio is up on the Hsieh Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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The downtown company – a summary by Stewart Brand

The business advice that Tony Hsieh most took to heart came from an ad executive: “A great brand is a story that never stops unfolding.” With his own company, Zappos, he determined that “brand equals culture,” and made quality of culture the top corporate priority, followed by customer service, and then selling shoes and clothing. The formula worked so well that Zappos outgrew its collection of buildings in suburban Las Vegas. Time to build a campus.

Other suburban corporate campuses—Google, Nike, Apple—struck him as isolated and insular. He wondered if a company could be like New York University, embedded in downtown Manhattan, with all of its buildings and no end of urban amenities within a five-minute walk. Edward Glaeser’s book The Triumph of the City described how cities unfold forever, driven by density and intense variety, while companies all eventually go stagnant and die. Maybe immersion in a downtown could help keep his company unfolding, and maybe bringing company start-up culture to a decaying urban core could restart its vitality.

Zappos bet the company on the idea. They took over the abandoned city hall in the dead-end part of Las Vegas known as Fremont East and spent $200 million buying up nearby properties, $50 million on local small businesses, $50 million on tech start-ups, and $50 million on education, arts, and culture. Hsieh’s strategy is to increase: “Collisions” (serendipitous encounters); “Co-learning” (a community teaching itself); and “Connectedness” (density, diversity, and reasons to engage).

They built a Shipping Container Park with three stories of shops, amusements, and tech start-ups wrapped around a courtyard for food, play, and hanging out. They planted Burning Man mega-art on corners throughout the neighborhood “to keep you walking one more block.” Inspired by TED, the Summit Series, and especially SXSW (the South by Southwest festival in Austin), they built a theater for frequent talks and organized an annual “Life is Beautiful” music festival attracting 60,000.

Hsieh figures that “collisionability” can be quantified and designed for. He thinks that street-level interaction can be made so rich that it compensates for the lower density of low-rise buildings, with 100 residents/acre. Thus he blocked off the skyway from Zappos’s parking lot to its headquarters in the city hall. Use the street. Make street activities really attractive. Active residents, he calculates, will experience 1,000 collisionable hours a year (3.6 hours/day, 7 days/week, 40 weeks/year). Ditto for “purposeful visitors” (12 hours/day, 7 days/week, 12 weeks/year)—you are invited to be one.

If Zappos helps foster an urban “culture of openness, collaboration, creativity, and optimism,” Hsieh says, then the city can prosper, and the company with it, and both can keep unfolding their stories indefinitely.

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys Seminar Tickets

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys present Oceanic

Sylvia Earle & Tierney Thys present “Oceanic”

TICKETS

Tuesday May 20, 02014 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! General Tickets $15

 

About this Seminar:

Land animals on an ocean planet, we have a lot to learn about how the world works. The microbes of the sea are Earth’s dominant life form. Ocean currents and temperatures drive climate and weather. Come ride a current to view bad news (dead zones, rising sea levels, melting sea ice, acidification, coral bleaching, fish piracy and overfishing) and good news (marine protected areas, functional ecosystems, megafaunal migrations, mid-Atlantic ridge, community involvement, citizen scientists) and continuing mysteries. Land is mercurial. Ocean abides.

Two of the most eloquent voices of ocean science are Sylvia Earle and Tierney Thys. Both are National Geographic Explorers, both are stars of the TED stage. They have collaborated on original and adventurous research. For this talk they are collaborating to tell (and show) sea stories of deep waters, the deep past, and the deep future.

Mariana Mazzucato Seminar Media

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths

Monday March 24, 02014 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Mazzucato Seminar page for Members.

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Audio is up on the Mazzucato Seminar page, or you can subscribe to our podcast.

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Government as radical, patient VC – a summary by Stewart Brand

The iPhone, Mazzucato pointed out, is held up as a classic example of world-changing innovation coming from business.

Yet every feature of the iPhone was created, originally, by multi-decade government-funded research. From DARPA came the microchip, the Internet, the micro hard drive, the DRAM cache, and Siri. From the Department of Defense came GPS, cellular technology, signal compression, and parts of the liquid crystal display and multi-touch screen (joining funding from the CIA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, which, by the way, developed the lithium-ion battery.) CERN in Europe created the Web. Steve Jobs’ contribution was to integrate all of them beautifully.

Venture Capitalists (VCs) in business expect a return in 3 to 5 years, and they count on no more than one in ten companies to succeed. The time frame for government research and investment embraces a whole innovation cycle of 15 to 20 years, supporting the full chain from basic research through to viable companies. That means they can develop entire new fields such as space technology, aviation technology, nanotechnology, and, hopefully, Green technology.

But compare the reward structure. Government takes the greater risk with no prospect of great reward, while VCs and businesses take less risk and can reap enormous rewards. “We socialize the risks and privatize the rewards.” Mazzucato proposes mechanisms for the eventual rewards of deep innovation to cycle back into a government “innovation fund”—perhaps by owning equity in the advantaged companies, or retaining a controlling “golden share” of intellectual property rights, or through income-contingent loans (such as are made to students). “After Google made billions in profits, shouldn’t a small percentage have gone back to fund the public agency (National Science Foundation) that funded its algorithm?” In Brazil, China, and Germany, state development banks get direct returns from their investments.

The standard narrative about government in the US is that it stifles innovation, whereas the truth is that it enables innovation at a depth that business cannot reach, and the entire society, including business, gains as a result. “We have to change the way we think about the state,” Mazzucato concludes.

Subscribe to our Seminar email list for updates and summaries.

Explore Urban Infrastructure at the MacroCity Conference, May 30-31

Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
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macrocity-01

We rarely see in full the cities that we live in. Focused on our daily lives, urban dwellers are often only dimly aware of the numerous, enmeshed layers of critical infrastructure that quietly hum in the background to make modern life possible.

Come and explore the amazing stories and surprising histories to be found lurking just below the surface of our cities at MacroCity, a two-day, whirlwind tour of this bigger picture of urban life. The event brings together a diverse set of panelists, speakers, and participants to explore the vast, often overlooked networks of infrastructure that surround us. The line-up includes rogue archivist and Lost Landscapes creator Rick Prelinger, as well as Laci Videmsky of the New California Water Atlas.

The schedule also includes a variety of field trips, offering an opportunity to explore first-hand some of the vast networks of infrastructure that sustain the Bay Area.

Organized by the Bay Area Infrastructure Observatory, the conference will take place on May 30-31 at SPUR and the Brava Theater in San Francisco. The Long Now Foundation is partnering with BAIO on the event, and Long Now members receive a 25% discount on tickets – please check your email for your discount code.

Field trips will take place on May 30th, with most of the speakers scheduled for May 31st. A basic pass to the talks can be reserved for $100; the deluxe pass for $150 includes access to a field trip, as well. Half-price tickets are available for members of the nonprofit community; please see the event registration page for more information.

Watermark: New Film by Edward Burtynsky

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
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Every living thing requires water. We humans interact with it in a myriad of ways, numerous times a day. But how often do we consider the complexity of that interaction?

Renowned photographer and former SALT speaker Edward Burtynsky explores these questions in a new film. Co-directed by Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal,

Watermark is a feature documentary film that brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. … Shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows water as a terraforming element and the scale of its reach, as well as the magnitude of our need and use. This is balanced by forays into the particular: a haunting memory of a stolen river, a mysterious figure roaming ancient rice terraces, the crucial data hidden in a million year old piece of ice, a pilgrim’s private ritual among thousands of others at the water’s edge.

The film is part of Burtynsky’s larger Water project, which also includes a book and an exhibition of dramatic large-format photographs. Watermark will be playing at theaters throughout the United States this month and the next; you can find a list of screenings here.

In San Francisco, Watermark will be screened at the Opera Plaza Theater  for one week, starting this Friday, April 18. Come see the film on opening day for a chance to hear Burtynsky speak about the film: he will attend the 4.30 PM and 7.00 PM shows in person for a post-screening Q&A with the audience.

More information about the Water Project book can be found here, and the accompanying photographs will be on exhibit at the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco through the end of the month.

 

The Interval at Long Now: Opening in May

Posted on Thursday, April 3rd, 02014 by Charlotte Hajer
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The Interval is the name of Long Now's new salon space in San Francisco. Opening Spring 02014

We are excited to announce that we will be opening The Interval at Long Now in May. We have our first event scheduled for May 27th, but our doors will open prior to that. In June we’ll present Rachel Sussman, a previous Seminar speaker, at the Salon. We will announce that as soon as the date is finalized. Details on a series of opening events in May–including some member and donor-exclusive ones–will be forthcoming.

We are offering some special thank you gifts to charter supporters who give during this critical phase of the project, in the lead-up to opening. Everyone who donates prior to opening will be considered a charter Interval supporter.

Here are some of the benefits, besides the gifts you may have already received:

  • Special opening events in May
  • All (new) donors over $500 will receive a Long Now etched shot glass.
  • All charter supporters will be listed at the space on our donor wall.
  • Every donor ($10 or higher) will receive a digital copy of the Manual for Civilization book list with an exclusive forward written just for the charter supporters.

If you have been waiting for the right time, this is it – every donation counts. We really need your support now to finish this project: please spread the word. And if every one of our existing donors can inspire a friend to give at the same level, then we will exceed our goal.

At Long Now we have high standards for design, and we wanted to build a venue that we’d be proud to put our name on – a venue that would inspire and welcome both our members and the general public. We think we’ve done it. Here are some of the highlights of what we are all building together:

  • Ambient music and video installation by Brian Eno, played on a custom-designed Meyer Galileo sound system
  • The Manual for Civilization library: 3,500 essential texts, crowdsourced from our extended community
  • Chalkboard robot built by Swiss artist Jürg Lehni
  • Salon-style events to complement our Seminars About Long-term Thinking
  • A robot that makes bespoke gins from specially distilled botanicals
  • Tea list by Samovar tea lounge, including special aged Pu-erh tea
  • Coffee by Sightglass coffee
  • Specially distilled gin and whiskey by St George Spirits
  • Aged St George whiskey served from the barrel
  • Bar and beverage program designed by Jennifer Colliau (Small Hand Foods)
  • Mixologist-quality non-alcoholic concoctions (one of Jennifer’s specialties)

The Interval building also serves as Long Now’s headquarters. It is a place where anyone can come for some long-term thinking and conversation; a place to be inspired and surrounded by the long-term ideas that have sustained global civilization; and a place to hear (and talk) about new ideas coming from the fields of science, technology, art, and culture.

With that in mind, we ask you to take part in this project, whether at the $10 or $10,000 level. Every gift helps as we approach opening day. You’ll gets lots of benefits, including the Manual for Civilization master list, and your name will appear at this unique venue that you helped make a reality.

Thanks for your support of Long Now! We hope we continue to inform and inspire you.