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Stephen Pyne Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, February 25th, 02016 by Danielle Engelman
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This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep

Tuesday February 9, 02016 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Pyne Seminar page.


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


Ecological wildfire – a summary by Stewart Brand

“We are uniquely fire creatures,” Pyne began, “on a uniquely fire planet.” Life itself is a form of slow metabolic combustion—which eventually created oxygen and burnable vegetation that allowed fast combustion, ignited by lightning. Humans came along and mastered fire for warmth, food preparation, and managing the landscape, and that made us a keystone species. Humanity’s ecological signature on the world is fire.

Then we made fire the all-purpose catalyst for craft (clay, glass, metal) and eventually industry, shifting to the vast geological resource of fossil fuels. That “pyric transition” made humans dominant on the earth, even to the point of affecting climate. We used fire to clear much of the world’s forest for agriculture.

Then came a century of misdirection about wildfire. The forests of Europe are mostly too wet to burn, but by the late 19th century the leading foresters in world came from there and taught their ignorance to foresters in North America and India, where the land depends on seasonal fire for ecological health. National governments set about suppressing all wildfire, with catastrophic success. In the absence of the usual occasional local fires, massive fuel loads built up, and destructive megafires became the norm. There was an alternative theory of a “restoration strategy” to manage wildfire in way that would emulate how lightning and native American burning kept the landscape ecologically healthy, but it has been applied haltingly and fractionally, and megafires still rule.

“The real argument for fire is that it does ecological work that nothing else does,” Pyne concluded. “Charismatic megaflora” like redwoods need fire. An ecologically rich mosaic of forest, savannah, and meadows needs fire. Healthy prairie needs fire or it gets taken over by invasive woody plants. People trained only as foresters are blind to all that. Wildfire practice now works best when it is guided by wildlife biologists who insist that red cockaded woodpeckers need fire-dependent longleaf pines, that grizzly bears need the berries that grow in recent burns, that pheasants need grassland burned free of invasive eastern red cedar.

The techniques for prescribed burns for a bioabundant natural landscape are now well honed. They need to be applied much more widely. When in doubt how to proceed, ask the ecologists, who will ask the animals.

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Molecular Foundry Award Goes to Rosetta Project to Develop a Wearable Rosetta Disk

Posted on Thursday, February 18th, 02016 by Laura Welcher
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This November, The Rosetta Project was awarded access to staff and facilities at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to develop a wearable version of the Rosetta Disk. The successful proposal, titled “The Rosetta Disk – An Exploration into Very Long-term Archiving” focused on the need for access to high-powered microscopes and imaging technology available at the Lab to prepare and evaluate components of a new Rosetta Disk prototype. The user program will provide Rosetta Project staff access to the Molecular Foundry, Advanced Light Source, and National Center for Electron Microscopy.

Rosetta Disk

The new version of the Rosetta Disk currently under development uses a similar manufacturing process as the first edition of the Rosetta Disk, with the resulting archive being microscopically formed in nickel and readable with 1000x magnification or less. The main difference is that the final archive is about 2 centimeters in diameter, making it a size that could comfortably be worn on the human body. Given the new process is reliable, fast, and less expensive than the one used for the original Rosetta Disk prototypes, it is the first version of the Disk that could potentially meet the long-desired goal of broad dissemination, in keeping with the long-term archiving strategy of LOCKSS (“lots of copies keeps stuff safe”).

Although the new, smaller size of the disk is an advantage, it imposes a new constraint of having less surface space that the archive contents can occupy. If we keep the information or “pages” in the archive at the size where they can be read with 1000x magnification, we can fit 1000 or fewer of them on the disk. The original Rosetta Disk has over 1,500 languages and 13,000 pages of information, so this means we must include fewer languages, fewer pages for each language, or some combination of the two. Yet constraints breed creativity, and we have chosen to meet this new challenge by slightly altering the contents that will go on the wearable Rosetta Disk.

The contents will be in keeping with the original Rosetta Disk in that they will be represent many of the world’s human languages. The contents will also be parallel, that is, the same information for each language. The two main kinds of content will be a parallel text and parallel vocabulary list. The text we have chosen is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”), which is available in over 300 languages, and the parallel vocabulary will be Swadesh lists compiled by Long Now’s PanLex Project. The vocabularies will be chosen to match the texts as nearly as we can.

In a major departure from how the contents of the original Rosetta collection were assembled, the Universal Declaration and PanLex data are all “born digital”. This means we have a lot of control over font and font size, but this entails making choices. Our goal will be to maximize the amount of language content on the disk while preserving maximum legibility. This is where access to the Lab microscopes and imaging equipment will be especially helpful.

Another advantage to having “born digital” material is we can make the contents of the wearable Rosetta Disk available as open digital data as well as a physical artifact. We hope this will allow for all kinds of interesting experimentation in the archival longevity of both forms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights collection we will be using are all available in Unicode, which is a much preferred long-term format, and the PanLex Swadesh lists are now part of the Natural Language Toolkit collection and available as a corpus for computational tinkering.


The 1000x magnification required to read the Rosetta Disk is vastly lower than what is capable with the resources of Lawrence Berkeley Lab, which in addition to a vast array of imaging equipment operates the most powerful microscope in the world (TEAM I, left). Nonetheless, access to higher power equipment will allow us to prepare the content that will go on the disk, evaluate the longevity of the materials we are choosing to use, and to explore new methods to protect the disk surface from environmental damage as well as direct contact with human skin (many people – myself included – are sensitive to nickel).

An aspirational goal of the project is to develop long-term relationships with the staff and scientists at the Lab who have interest in exploring new materials and methods for long-term archiving. Some intriguing new possibilities have already emerged from early discussions (hint: think color!). These may allow us to radically change not only how we archive, but what we are able to archive for the long-term as well. And while new archival technologies are evolving rapidly, what seems steadfast and applicable to all of them are the strategies for long-term archiving long articulated by The Rosetta Project, and both explored and practiced in its Rosetta Disk.

Jane Langdale Seminar Tickets

Posted on Monday, February 15th, 02016 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Jane Langdale on Radical Ag: C4 Rice and Beyond

Jane Langdale on “Radical Ag: C4 Rice and Beyond”


Monday March 14, 02016 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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


About this Seminar:

The late 20th century saw the yields of the world’s staple crops more than double. To keep this momentum going well into the 21st century, scientists are working on C4 rice, a rice that more efficiently photosynthesizes sunlight, potentially making the crop that feeds half the world up to 50% more effective.

Jane Langdale is a Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College, Oxford.

Is the Great Auk a Candidate for De-Extinction?

Posted on Thursday, February 4th, 02016 by Stewart Brand
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Great auk
On June 25 and 26, 2015, a meeting was held at the International Centre for Life in Newcastle, England, to discuss whether the extinct Great Auk–a once-common flightless pelagic bird known as “the penguin of the north”–might be a realistic candidate for bringing back to life using recent breakthroughs in genetic technology.  Twenty-two scientists and other interested parties gathered for the event.

Until its final extinction in 1844, the Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) ranged across the entire north Atlantic ocean, fishing the waters off the northern US, Canada, Iceland, and northern Europe, including the coast near Newcastle in northern England.  The size of a medium penguin, it lived in the open ocean except for when it waddled ashore for breeding on just a few islands.  There its flightlessness made it vulnerable to human hunting and exploitation for its down that reached industrial scale.  Attempts to regulate the hunting as early as the 16th Century were fruitless.  The last birds, on an island off Iceland, were gone by 1844.

The host of the Great Auk meeting was Matt Ridley, member of the House of Lords, former science editor of The Economist, author of The Rational Optimist and Genome.  He opened the meeting by noting that de-extinction comes in four stages, which he described as: 1) In silico (the sequencing of the full genome of the extinct animal into digital data); 2) in vitro (editing the important genes of the extinct animal into living reproductive cells of its nearest living relative; 3) in vivo (using the edited reproductive cells to create living proxies of the extinct animal); and 4) in the wild (growing the proxy animal population with captive breeding and eventually releasing them to take up their old ecological role in the wild.)

The nearest relative of the Great Auk is the Razorbill (Alca torda, above).  It looks similar and has the same trans-Atlantic range and feeding habits, but it can fly and is about 1/8th the size of the Great Auk.  At the meeting, Tom Gilbert, an ancient-DNA expert at the Centre for Geogenetics, University of Copenhagen, reported on his preliminary sequencing of the Great Auk and Razorbill genomes, confirming that they are genetically close.  There are a number of Great Auk museum specimens to work with—71 skins, 24 skeletons, 75 eggs, and even some preserved internal organs and ancient fossil remains.

Three participants from Revive & Restore—Ben Novak, Ryan Phelan, and Stewart Brand—spelled out the current state of de-extinction projects involving the Passenger Pigeon, Heath Hen, and Woolly Mammoth. In each case the extinct genomes have been thoroughly sequenced, along with the genomes of their closest living relatives, and some of the important genes to edit have been identified.  With the woolly mammoth, 16 genes governing three important traits have been edited into a living elephant cell line by George Church’s team at Harvard Medical School.  For birds, the crucial in vivo stage of being able to create living chicks with edited genomes utilizing a primordial germ cell (PGC) approach has yet to be fully proven, though work has begun on the process, working with a private company in California.

Michael McGrew from Roslin Institute in Edinburgh described the current state of play using primordial germ cell techniques with chickens.  Progress may go best by introducing the edited PGCs into the embryos of chickens adjusted to have no endogenous germ cells of their own.  Because so much work has been done on chicken genetics, working with a bird in the same family, the extinct Heath Hen, may offer the most practical first case to pursue.  For the Great Auk eventually, a flock of captive-bred Razorbills will be needed to supply embryos for the PGC process.

Oliver Haddrath (Ornithologist at the Royal Ontario Museum) and Richard Bevan (Ecologist at Newcastle University) described what is known of the lifestyle, ecology, and history of Great Auks compared with Razorbills, and Andrew Torrance (Law professor at the University of Kansas) examined potential legal hurdles for resurrected Great Auks and found them not explicitly prohibitive and potentially navigable.

The meeting concluded with a sense that the project can and should be pursued.  Next steps include funding the completion of Tom Gilbert’s genetic study of Great Auks and Razorbills and scheduling a follow-up meeting in the summer of 2016, perhaps at another location (Canada, Iceland, Denmark) in the once-and-perhaps-future range of the Great Auk.

Following the formal meeting, many of the 22 participants were taken by Matt Ridley on a boat tour of the nearby Farne Islands, where thousands of Razorbills and other seabirds are gathered in dense breeding colonies.  One of the islands has a low beach that would be a perfect land base for Great Auks.


Participants:  Alastair Balls, Richard Bevan, Stewart Brand, Sir John Burn, Linda Conlon, Federica DiPalma, Graham Etherington, Fiona Fell, Tom Gilbert, Dan Gordon, Oliver Haddrath, James Haile, Jeremy Herrmann, Noel Jackson, Mike McGrew, Ben Novak, Ryan Phelan, Chris Redfern, Matt Ridley, Ryan Rothman, Jimmy Steele, Andrew Torrance.

Matt Ridley added the following about the Farne Islands:

The Farnes are one of the very few island groups on the east coast of Britain, so they are very attractive to island-nesting seabirds. They host about 90,000 breeding pairs of seabirds each summer: mainly puffins, guillemots, razorbills, kittiwakes, black-headed gulls, herring gulls, lesser black-back gulls, Arctic, Sandwich and Common terns, shags, cormorants, eider ducks and fulmars. About 2000 grey seal pups are born on the islands each autumn.

The number of breeding birds has approximately doubled in 40 years, largely thanks to protection from human disturbance, control of the predatory large gull population, and habitat management. Most of the birds depend on just one species of fish to feed their young: the sand eel. The eels lives in vast shoals over the sandy sea floor close to the islands. Some studies have suggested that nutrients from human activities on land — including agricultural fertiliser and human sewage — have contributed to the productivity of this part of the North Sea, though treated sewage effluent outflow to the sea has now ceased. It is likely that there are more breeding birds on the Farne islands today than for many centuries, because in the past people lived on the islands (as farmers or religious hermits), and visited them to collect eggs and chicks for food. There is archeological evidence that great auks lived here in the distant past, but they would have been quickly exterminated by people on islands so close to the shore, being so easy to catch.

Centuries of the Bristlecone

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 02016 by Jonathon Keats
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The Nevada Museum of Art has a commitment to supporting the creation, study, and preservation of art that explores the boundaries of human environments. In spatial terms that means the Museum collects and exhibits work from the Great Basin outward to the polar regions, the great deserts of the world, and high altitudes, including near space. In temporal terms, that includes materials with roots in deep human time, such as projects with Australian Aboriginal artists—but also artworks that project into the future, which is to say the Long Now.

Jonathon Keats’ proposal to construct a 5,000 year calendrical index linked between the Museum in Reno and Long Now’s site at 11,000 feet in remote eastern Nevada resides simultaneously on many frontiers. This is also a hallmark of our Art of the Greater West collection, which includes work from throughout a super-region that extends from Alaska south to Patagonia, and west across the Pacific to Australia. This physical and metaphorical territory “west of the mountains” is in a perpetual state of discovery. The Museum’s multiple permanent holdings, including its Contemporary Art and large Altered Landscape photography collection, are focused around human interactions with natural, built, and virtual spaces. Jonathon’s calendar will powerfully manifest how these collections, exhibitions, and research projects inhabit this rich confluence.


Bill Fox
Director, Center for Art + Environment
Nevada Museum of Art

William Fox will be speaking about the Art of the Greater West at The Interval at Long Now in April 02016. The Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno is partnering with the artist Jonathon Keats and The Long Now Foundation to realize Centuries of the Bristlecone for a permanent installation at the Museum in 02020. The archive of the project will reside at the Center for Art + Environment, where it will be available to researchers.


Centuries of the Bristlecone

A Living Calendar on Mount Washington

by Jonathon Keats

In pre-Classical Greece, time was kept by cicadas’ songs, the flowering of artichokes, and the migration of cranes. Ballads recounted these annual events, and provided their interpretation. (When the cranes migrated, it was time to plow the fields.) Although constellations also provided guidance, celestial authority was contingent in this three-thousand-year-old calendar, with days arbitrarily added as the stars fell out of sync with nature.

Gradually society made calendars more regular. First the moon was used, and then the sun. Julius Caesar improved the reliability of solar timekeeping by introducing the leap year. By modern reckoning, the Gregorian year is 365.2425 days long, and the movement of our planet has ceded authority to atomic clocks. Time has become abstract. The cranes are late if they migrate in November rather than October; November isn’t deemed ahead-of-schedule.

Undoubtedly the Gregorian calendar is useful for keeping dental appointments and managing multinational corporations. But is it worthy of our trust? Is it more valid than the sounding of cicadas and flowering of artichokes? Should we value mathematical exactitude over ground truth? Working in collaboration with the Long Now Foundation and the Nevada Museum of Art, I plan to provide an alternative to Gregorian time by bringing the calendar back to life.

At the core of my calendrical system will be the most long-lived of timekeepers: Pinus longaeva, commonly known as the bristlecone pine tree. Bristlecone pines have a lifespan that can exceed five thousand years, making the oldest more ancient than Greek civilization. They keep count of the years with annual ring growth, a natural calendar prized by dendroclimatologists because it’s irregular. The thickness of each ring is a measure of environmental conditions in a given year. The growing girth of the tree thus clocks environmental time cumulatively. Sited on Long Now property atop Mount Washington, my living calendars will do so for the next five millennia, visibly tracking time as lived on our planet.

Here is the vision: Around each bristlecone pine will be arranged a double spiral of large stone pillars, indicating the girth the bristlecone can be expected to have in 500 years, 1,000 years and more, as extrapolated from the current average annual ring growth for Mount Washington bristlecones. Each of the stones will be incised with the appropriate year. The steady development of the tree – and concomitant increase of the tree’s diameter – will turn over each successive pillar with the completion of each consecutive time increment, thereby indicating the approximate date. However, as climate change alters the living landscape, the calendar will fall out of step with Gregorian years. Through time, each bristlecone will bear witness to human activity in the Anthropocene. The meaning of the living calendar will change with the changes we bring to the environment.

Naturally there are myriad ways in which these calendars will defy expectations. Most certainly some will grow faster than others, subject to fluctuations in microclimates on the mountain, each differently impacted by global climate change. Also bristlecone pines typically grow irregularly, the harshness of their environment recorded in the contour of their trunks. Depending on what transpires in their vicinity, they may turn over pillars out of order. Or a trees may die prematurely, time frozen in hardwood that will take many millennia to decompose.

These uncertainties are integral to the concept. In these calendars, time is alive with contingencies. Through these calendars, we’ll come to terms with where prediction fails us: the limitations of what we can know about the future, and the threat of hubris.

Under the stewardship of Long Now, Mount Washington will host five stone spirals around five trees of different ages at different altitudes. Beginning in the year 2020 – when we anticipate construction to be complete – voyagers will visit each calendar in turn, discovering the date by reading the stones.

Centuries of the Bristlecone will encourage people to visit Mount Washington who might otherwise never see it. Yet these mountain calendars will probably be experienced primarily by word of mouth – a living myth. For that reason, there will be a more broadly accessible dimension to the project: A sixth bristlecone pine will be configured with an electronic dendrometer, an instrument that wraps around the tree trunk, precisely measuring diameter. Data from the dendrometer will be relayed by satellite to a computer that will calculate an exact date based on the tree’s daily increase in girth. The computer will control a monumental mechanical calendar situated in downtown Reno at the Nevada Museum of Art.

Additionally the dendrometer will control a variable Bristlecone Time Protocol, accessible online and via an app for smartphone and smartwatch. The protocol will provide a precise digital indication of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months and years according to the growth of the tree on Mt. Washington.

The bristlecone date will thereby become a fully viable (if notoriously unreliable) alternative to the Gregorian date. People will be able to choose which calendar to follow, and, in the ensuing confusion, will be forced to confront the discrepancy. Is time a universal abstraction or grounded in lived experience? Each calendar will carry conflicting authority, much as stars and artichokes did in pre-Classical Greece.

Call for Participation: The Long Now Foundation Summer Teacher Institute

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 02016 by Laura Welcher
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The Long Now Foundation Summer Teacher Institute

Fostering Long-term Responsibility

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

August 8-10, 02016

“Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed—some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries.”

-Stewart Brand, Co-founder and President of the Long Now Foundation



When today’s students become tomorrow’s civic leaders and entrepreneurs, they will confront global environmental and societal challenges that require long-term strategies and solutions. The Long Now Foundation is offering a new program—the Summer Teacher Institute—to engage with educators to develop middle and high school curricula that will better prepare students for these challenges by cultivating their ability to think critically, frame issues, and solve problems using time frames that include centuries and even millennia.

During a three-day engagement including interactive presentations with Long Now thought leaders and hands-on sessions using Long Now’s multi-media and museum resources, participating teachers will design creative and compelling curricula that foster long-term thinking skills within a wide range of subject areas and disciplines.  Teachers will leave the Institute with a new approach to framing critical thinking and problem solving in a long-term time horizon; concrete curriculum activities to implement in their classrooms that build long-term thinking skills; and a new network of Long Now educators committed to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility among its students and schools.


The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop projects to challenge our short term attention span and time frame and embody the notion of deep time. It hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common through its ambitious projects such as:

  • The 10,000 year clock, a mechanical clock that ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.
  • The Rosetta Library, a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.
  • Revive & Restore, an initiative to selectively bring back extinct species.

The Long Now Summer Teacher Institute is an opportunity for educators to collaborate on creating practical teaching approaches and learning activities that develop long-term thinking among their students with the intention of cultivating graduates with the skills and responsibility to balance the short and long views of civilization.



  • 12th grade history of science students discussing the long-term implications of a world without disease;
  • 6th grade humanities students prototyping what farming looks like in a century;
  • 10th grade science and humanities classes comparing the outcomes of immediate short-term interventions with long-term strategies for living with severe drought;
  • 8th graders exploring urban life by examining a specific city’s history, present and future across centuries to determine what has changed and what remains constant.

The Summer Teacher Institute is designed to take educators through a three day schedule of provocative conversations with experts, field trips, and hands-on problem-solving activities that culminate with the development of implementable curriculum activities.


Stephen Pyne Seminar Tickets

Posted on Monday, January 18th, 02016 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Stephen Pyne on Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep

Stephen Pyne on “Fire Slow, Fire Fast, Fire Deep”


Tuesday February 9, 02016 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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


About this Seminar:

Fire acts in the short-term & long-term. It periodically destroys landscapes with devastating speed, yet, if properly managed, it leads to the long-term health of many ecosystems.

Stephen J. Pyne is a professor at Arizona State University, author of Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America (amongst many other books), and considered one of the world’s foremost experts on the history and management of fire.

PanLex Looking for Endangered Language Digital Detectives

Posted on Thursday, January 14th, 02016 by Julie Anderson
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Every word

The PanLex project aims to translate every word from every language into every other language. We already have solid groundwork with 10,000 language varieties and 22 million expressions in the PanLex database, but we still have a long way to go, especially with the more obscure and under-documented languages of the world which are most susceptible to extinction. Ethnologue: Languages of the World explains:

Language endangerment is a serious concern to which linguists and language planners have turned their attention in the last several decades. For a variety of reasons, speakers of many smaller, less dominant languages stop using their heritage language and begin using another.… As a consequence there may be no speakers who use the [heritage] language as their first or primary language and eventually the language may no longer be used at all…. Languages which have not been adequately documented disappear altogether.

In light of the fragile situation facing many smaller languages, PanLex is in a hurry to track down existing data on them, and we’d love to get some help from the larger Long Now community.

Digital detectives

We are looking for some intrepid, word-loving, puzzle-solving language sleuths who can help us search for words in some of the world’s most obscure languages. Do you love a challenge? Are you a brave armchair world traveler? Can you defy the needle-in-haystack odds? Let us send you a list of five little-known languages to search on the Internet using your best cyber-snooping creativity. You’ll think of places to hunt that we haven’t. Find a dictionary, glossary, or sociolinguistic research paper with a word list in the appendix. Check social media, booksellers, and library catalogs. Tweet your followers. If you find something, you’ll simply email us the URL or the publication info and we’ll take it from there.

What your research will do

You’ll be our springboard towards gathering words in more than 2,000 languages still needed in our database, shoring up the most neglected and least documented in the world. Indigenous communities, researchers, translators, students, and linguists will have online access to this valuable data. Increased visibility and accessibility of these languages allows the stakeholders to develop their projects in the directions they choose, be it research, education, or language revitalization. Pressure may be relieved on some smaller communities who are in danger of abandoning their mother tongue in favor of a politically dominant language. Your efforts support long-term preservation of linguistic diversity, accessibility of data, and ultimately improved communication. Plus, you may gather an esoteric name or two to complete your next high-brow crossword puzzle.

Getting technical

If you prefer, we can also use some help on the technical side:

  • designing apps and interfaces
  • localization tools
  • mobile apps
  • graph visualizations
  • adding links to other linguistic or geographic databases
  • investigating translation inference algorithms


We’d love to hear from you

Contact us at to volunteer, your support will be greatly appreciated!

Long Now Meetup Guide

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 02016 by Danielle Engelman
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Long Now has members all over the world, and one of the most frequent requests that the Foundation receives is how can members connect with each other and host conversations and events around long-term thinking in their own area.

We have created this Long Now Meetup Guide to provide some broad guidelines and point to some online resources to help members get started with events in their own area.

Long Now considers these autonomous Meetups by members to be very valuable to a deeper and wider dialog around long-term thinking. But due to our small staff size and the number of projects already being worked on by the Foundation, we do not have the bandwidth to individually manage and support these member events.

MeetupLong Now Members in San Francisco, December 02015

We’re hoping with this Guide, members will be encouraged to start events in their own area and meet some of their fellow members while exploring long-term thinking. When a new Meetup group is getting started, Long Now can reach out to our existing members in that geographic area to connect them to the new group. Both Long Now London and Long Now Boston offer inspiring examples of what Long Now Meetups can become!

Long Now Meetup Guide

How to set up a Long Now Meetup group:

  • Create an account on Meetup.
  • Once you have an account, “start a Meetup group”.
  • Meetup will ask for the city in which this group is taking place.
  • It then will ask you what your Meetup Group is interested in, put in “Long Now”. This will add your Group to the larger “Topic” of Long Now, which makes it easier for people to discover you.
  • You then need to give your Meetup a name, we recommend including the name of your city and “Long Now” in the title of your Meetup.
  • Add a description to the group – please remember at some point in the copy to mention that this group is inspired by Long Now and not officially affiliated with the Foundation.
  • Once you have a group, create an event within the group and give a description of what people can expect at the event.
  • Once you have your group & event set-up, please compose an email that you would like forwarded to Long Now members in your city, and send it to us at We’ll forward your email (with the links to your meetup group & event) to members in your area on your behalf.
  • If you want some examples/references for your group & event description, please feel free to check out the other Meetups on the “Long Now” Topic page.

What Long Now can do for member groups and events:

  • When a new Meetup group is getting started, Long Now can reach out to our existing members in that geographic area to connect them to the new group.
  • Long Now Meetups do not have to be member-only; anyone interested in long-term thinking is welcomed.
  • Long Now will supply a logo with a tagline that says the group/event is ‘inspired by’ Long Now, email us at for the files.
  • Long Now provides basic instructions on how to set up a Long Now Meetup group, but we can not do the setup for events or organizers.
  • In some cases we might refer a speaker or let a local organizer know if someone we know is in your area. This is at our discretion.
  • Depending on the event and our own production schedule, we may be able to help promote a local event through social media. This is at our discretion.

Guidelines for member organized events and groups:

  • Member meetup groups and events are organized under their own agency and in no way represent Long Now as an organization. There is no title conferred by Long Now to the group/event organizers, nor can we provide email addresses, business cards or other collateral.
  • Long Now can not provide any liability coverage, financial oversight, money handling, contract review, event advice, or other services for these groups/events.
  • Use of Long Now’s name in discussions with other institutions, or use of logo needs to always be with the caveat that the group/event is inspired by Long Now, not that they are representing Long Now as an institution.
  • Long Now generally cannot provide connections to our speakers or board members unless asked by them, as we already tax them with internal requests and can’t add anything more to that.
  • To avoid confusion, Long Now requests that member events and organizers don’t use exact names of our events and speaking series such as Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT).
  • Events may be filmed or recorded at the discretion of the member group. If they are posted online or in some way re-broadcast we request to review the media before our name is associated with it.
  • Long Now does not have any expectations around whether or not events or groups need to charge for tickets or dues of any kind. Any charges or fund raising for a member group is solely at the discretion of the organizer.  It should be clear that those funds are not being raised by Long Now, but by that event or organizer for that group.
  • Long Now requests member organizations use Meetup to organize the events. This helps set correct expectations from members, makes organizing easier, and Long Now can keep referring people to the platform instead of having to keep track of each group individually.
  • Long Now requests that no domains be used with our name in them (other than the Meetup one supplied) that might lead people to believe the event or member group is organized by Long Now.
  • It is our long-term hope to build out features within our own internal membership system to better support local area member groups;  if new features become available over time, we will notify all of our members and group organizers.

Potential Long Now Meetup ideas:

  • Conversation groups seeded by ideas from our lecture series, blog and website.
  • Watch the live-stream or pre-recorded Long Now Seminars and Conversations at The Interval with a small group and include a discussion afterwards.
  • Presentations and lectures by people doing interesting work that involves or touches on Long Now themes and ideas.
  • Field trips, guided tours and excursions to locations that have a connection to Long Now themes and ideas.
  • Workshops, classes and maker events that explore or touch on Long Now themes and ideas.

Online resources for Long Now Meetup groups:

  • Long Now Meetups: The home page for Long Now meetups around the world.
  • Long Now Membership: Members are an integral part of Long Now and support our mission to foster long-term thinking. Please email us at to receive the Long Now logo files.
  • Long Now Live Stream: The Live Stream of our lecture series; can be watched with a small group.
  • Seminars About Long-term Thinking: Our in-depth lecture series, curated by Stewart Brand; can be watched with a small group.
  • Conversations at The Interval: Our dynamic lecture series, held at The Interval; available on our Long Now Live Stream.
  • Twitter: Follow our ideas on Twitter and share news and pictures of your events by tweeting @longnow
  • Facebook: Follow our ideas, or create a Facebook event to go with your Meetup event.
  • Flickr: We have a large selection of photos from Long Now projects and programs available to use.
  • Vimeo: A collection of short video pieces about Long Now projects and ideas; can be watched with a small group.
  • Blog of the Long Now: Ideas about long-term thinking, good for seeding conversations, discussion groups.
  • SoundCloud: Embeddable audio of our Seminars About Long-term Thinking and a selection of Conversations at The Interval.

Rick Prelinger Seminar Media

Posted on Tuesday, December 22nd, 02015 by Andrew Warner
link   Categories: Announcements, Seminars   chat 0 Comments

This lecture was presented as part of The Long Now Foundation’s monthly Seminars About Long-term Thinking.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 10

Wednesday December 9, 02015 – San Francisco

Video is up on the Prelinger Seminar page.


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