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Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 8 Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, January 9th, 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.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 8

Tuesday December 17, 02013 – San Francisco


Video is up on the Prelinger Seminar page for Members.


Unlost San Francisco Life – a summary by Stewart Brand

“You are the soundtrack,” Prelinger reminded the 1,400 assembled at the Castro to revel in his eighth mustering of wondrous archival film of San Francisco.

(Long Now people and San Franciscans do love to party, we notice every December at the Castro with Rick. All the more reason to have high expectations for the Long Now Bar (ahem, Salon) under construction at Fort Mason. It will be a non-stop thoughtful party, perhaps lasting centuries, opening in 02014. You can hasten its opening with a contribution.)

Rick’s film this time featured the China Clipper taking off from the water next to the World’s Fair on Treasure Island; another float plane hopping along the water from Oakland to San Francisco as a ferry; the now outlawed traditional downtown blizzard of calendar pages drifting down from highrise offices celebrating the last day of work every December; the dirt roads of Telegraph Hill leading to Julius’ Castle; one of the 80,000 Victory Gardens in the city during World War 2; the bay filled with war ships (no one was supposed to photograph them); a tourist promotion film lauding San Francisco’s “invigorating sea mists”; a drive down historic middle Market Street, with the audience crying out a landmark, “There’s the Twitter Building!”

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Brian Eno and Danny Hillis Seminar Tickets

Posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 02014 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Brian Eno and Danny Hillis present Long Now, now

Brian Eno and Danny Hillis present

“The Long Now, now”


Tuesday January 21, 02014 at 7:30pm Palace of Fine Arts

Long Now Members can reserve 1 seat, and a second seat at half-price.

Join today! General Tickets $30


About this Seminar:

Brian Eno delivered the first SALT talk exactly ten years ago. He gave The Long Now Foundation its name, contributed in no end of artistic and financial ways, and designed the chimes for the 10,000-year Clock. Danny Hillis instigated and co-founded Long Now and designed its series of Clocks, culminating currently in the 500-foot one being built inside a west Texas mountain. In the course of their collaboration, Eno and Hillis became fast friends.

Thousands of years pass a decade at a time. The idea and works of Long Now have been active for two decades (1/500th of 10,000 years). Between the conception and initial delivery of a deep idea, much transpires. If the idea resonates with people, it gains a life of its own. Allies assemble, and shape things. Public engagement shapes things. Funding or its absence shapes things. Refinements of the idea emerge, branch off, and thrive or don’t. Initial questions metastasize into potent new questions.

Over time, the promotion of “long-term thinking” begins to acquire a bit of its own long term to conjure with. Eno and Hillis have spent 20 years thinking about long-term thinking and building art for it, with ever increasing fascination. What gets them about it?

Members of Long Now will be able to reserve one complimentary ticket for this special evening, and purchase one additional ticket for a guest.

We anticipate a great deal of interest in this Seminar; please understand that we may not be able to accommodate everyone who would like to attend. There will be audio and video produced of this Seminar; check our blog for media availability.

Members can also tune in to a live audio stream of the Seminar; if you are considering membership, now is a great time to join and support Long Now and our mission to foster long-term thinking.

Long Now Seminar Videos for Everyone

Posted on Monday, January 6th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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We begin 02014 with some big news about online access to our Seminars About Long-term Thinking (SALT). Now for the first time on there is full, free public access to video of the twelve most recent Long Now Seminars. That’s a whole year’s worth, and as new Seminars are added we’ll keep the most recent dozen available. So you may want to watch the oldest ones first.

As we celebrate completing the first decade of our speaking series, we are thrilled to make these talks more available and easier to share. We hope that all of you who listen to Seminar audio podcasts each month will enjoy the ability to watch complete Seminars videos even more.

We’ve launched a redesigned experience for our Seminar pages which includes embeddable/sharable clips of most Seminars, new ways to search our archives or browse by subject, and access to the audio-only version right on the page. This update will help us reach an even wider audience and give everyone interested in Long Now more ways to explore and experience our decade of Seminars.

Long Now members have additional options just for them including HD versions of the videos and download access. Members have access to all Seminars videos, amongst many other benefits.

Our audio podcast remains free as always. Tens of thousands of people around the country and the world listen-in each month. We often hear from listeners who have heard the entire series and cherish the insight and information they’ve gained over the years. We hope the videos will add to everyone’s enjoyment of the series. Seminar recordings are amongst Long Now’s best forms of outreach, so making them more widely available helps us fulfill our mission to promote and encourage long-term thinking.

Long Now members will continue to have access to the complete ten years of Seminar videos, and exclusively have the option to view or download HD video versions of the talks. The support of our membership program, now more than 5,200 strong, enables us to provide this additional general public access to videos. Membership levels start at just $8/month and include many other benefits like tickets to see Seminars in-person and a real time online simulcast of most talks.

SALT speakers address diverse topics spanning the arts, science, policy, history, economics, and more–in all cases bringing a long-term mindset to the areas of their expertise.  Seminar speakers have included MacArthur Fellows, Nobel Laureates, Medal of Freedom recipients, and celebrated individuals from academia, business, government, and beyond.

The SALT series began in 02003 and is presented each month live in San Francisco at various venues for in-person audiences of up to 1,200 people. The series is curated and hosted by Long Now’s President Stewart Brand.

We are excited to provide more SALT access to our global online audience. Stay tuned to Long Now’s blog and our Twitter and Facebook page for updates on when new Seminars are available. We hope you will explore and enjoy the Seminars About Long-term Thinking in 02014.

“Climate Change and Us” Event Video Now Live

Posted on Monday, December 23rd, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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Rarely do we get to hear directly from the scientists who compile, analyze, and synthesize the most recent climate change data. On December 13th, swissnex San Francisco, in partnership with The Long Now Foundation, hosted an event that explained the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s most recent report, and what types of solutions would be needed to avoid pervasive climate shifts.

The evening started with a video highlighting the process of creating an IPCC report, and then a presentation from IPCC scientist Thomas Stocker on the conclusions of the report. The report divided the future into four possible scenarios, 2.0, 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 degree shifts in mean global temperatures, allowing each country and policy maker to see the relative effects of each level of climate change. The news for even a 2.0 degree shift isn’t good, but the speakers did a great job of balancing the stark news with fruitful discussion of different avenues for addressing the causes.

The rest of the evening featured a diverse panel of experts on the report’s key takeaways for the scientist, the citizen, and the entrepreneur. Participants included former SALT speakers Saul Griffith and Paul Hawken, IPCC scientists Gian-Kasper Plattner and Thomas Stocker, and Susan Burns of the Global Footprint Network. After the event, swissnex hosted a reception in the venue to allow the audience to continue the conversation started on stage.

This embedded video is a 10 minute preview. The full video is available at Fora.TV

Richard Kurin Seminar Media

Posted on Thursday, December 5th, 02013 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.

American History in 101 Objects

Monday November 18, 02013 – San Francisco


Video is up on the Kurin Seminar page for Members in HD and non-Members in SD.


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


American objects – a summary by Stewart Brand

Figuratively holding up one museum item after another, Kurin spun tales from them. (The Smithsonian has 137 million objects; he displayed just thirty or so.)

The Burgess Shale shows fossilized soft-tissue creatures (“very early North Americans”) from 500 million years ago. The Smithsonian’s Giant Magellan Telescope being built in Chile will, when it is completed in 2020, look farther into the universe, and thus farther into the past than any previous telescope—12.8 billion years.

Kurin showed two versions of a portrait of Pocahontas, one later than the other. “You’re always interrogating the objects,” he noted. In the early image Pocahontas looks dark and Indian; in the later one she looks white and English.

George Washington’s uniform is elegant and impressive. He designed it himself to give exactly that impression, so the British would know they were fighting equals.

Benjamin Franklin’s walking stick was given to him by the French, who adored his fur cap because it seemed to embody how Americans lived close to nature. The gold top of the stick depicted his fur cap as a “cap of liberty.” Kurin observed, “There you have the spirit of America coded in an object.”

In 1831 the first locomotive in America, the “John Bull,” was assembled from parts sent from England and took up service from New York to Philadelphia at 15 miles per hour. In 1981, the Smithsonian fired up the John Bull and ran it again along old Georgetown rails. It is viewed by 5 million visitors a year at the American History Museum on the Mall.

The Morse-Vail Telegraph from 1844 originally printed the Morse code messages on paper, but that was abandoned when operators realized they could decode the dots and dashes by ear. In the 1840s Secretary of the Smithsonian Joseph Henry collected weather data by telegraph from 600 “citizen scientists” to create: 1) the first weather maps, 2) the first storm warning system, 3) the first use of crowd-sourcing. The National Weather Service resulted.

Abraham Lincoln was 6 foot 4 inches. His stylish top hat made him a target on battlefields. It had a black band as a permanent sign of mourning for his son Willie, dead at 11. He wore the hat to Ford’s Theater on April 14, 1865. When you hold the hat, Kurin said, “you feel the man.”

In 1886 the Smithsonian’s taxidermist William Temple Hornaday brought one of the few remaining American bison back from Montana to a lawn by the Mall and began a breeding program that eventually grew into The National Zoo. His book, The Extermination of the American Bison, is “considered today the first important book of the American conservation movement.”

Dorothy’s magic slippers in The Wizard of Oz are silver in the book but were ruby in the movie (and at the museum) to show off the brand-new Technicolor. The Smithsonian chronicles the advance of technology and also employs it. The next Smithsonian building to open in Washington, near the White House, will feature digital-projection walls, so that every few minutes it is a museum of something else.

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Internet Archive Fundraiser – Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8 – 2nd Showing

Posted on Tuesday, November 26th, 02013 by Austin Brown
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Now in its eighth year, Rick Prelinger’s Lost Landscapes of San Francisco is almost always the largest of our Seminars About Long-term Thinking. Pre-sale tickets have sold out again at the Castro Theater and a few tickets will be released to the walk up line on the day of the show.

Those who didn’t get tickets to the December 17th event, though, have another chance to catch this great show. Rick is screening it again at the Internet Archive the following night, Wednesday December 18th and this show is a fundraiser for the Internet Archive.

The Internet Archive recently lost a lot of equipment and many books to a fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the expenses incurred to replace and repair what was damaged will be significant. Rick Prelinger has generously offered this second screening of Lost Landscapes of San Francisco 8  and proceeds will go to the Internet Archive’s efforts to rebuild the scanning facility where the fire took place.

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco: Fundraiser Benefitting Internet Archive
December 18, 02013 at 6:30 PM
Detail and Tickets

Rick Prelinger Seminar Tickets

Posted on Tuesday, November 12th, 02013 by Andrew Warner
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking


Rick Prelinger presents “Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 8″

Tickets have sold out for this event

Unclaimed tickets will be released to the walk-up line the night of the event; please note that tickets are not guaranteed to those waiting in the walk-up line.


Tuesday December 17, 02013 at 7:30pm Castro Theater


About this Seminar:

For the eighth time, Rick Prelinger brings together familiar and unseen archival film clips showing San Francisco as it was and is no more. Blanketing the 20th-century city, from the Bay to Ocean Beach, this screening includes newly-discovered images of Playland and Sutro Baths; the waterfront; families living and playing in their neighborhoods; detail-rich streetscapes of the late 1960s; the 1968 San Francisco State strike; Army and family life in the Presidio; buses, planes, trolleys and trains; a selected reprise of greatest hits from years 1-7; and much, much more. As usual, you’ll be the star at the glorious Castro — audience members are asked to identify places and events, ask questions, share their thoughts, and create an unruly interactive symphony of speculation about the city we’ve lost and the city we’d like to live in.

Rick Prelinger, an archivist, writer, filmmaker and teacher, has made LOST LANDSCAPES OF SAN FRANCISCO for eight years; LOST LANDSCAPES OF DETROIT for three; and recently completed NO MORE ROAD TRIPS?, a feature-length dream ride across the U.S. made completely from home movies. He runs a large archives of amateur film and home movies in San Francisco and teaches at UC Santa Cruz. With Megan Prelinger, he co-founded Prelinger Library, an experimental library and workspace open to the public in downtown San Francisco.

The Long Now, now: Celebrate a Decade of SALT with Brian Eno & Danny Hillis

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 02013 by Austin Brown
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The Seminars About Long-term Thinking began in 02003 with a talk by one of our founding board members, Brian Eno. In that inaugural SALT talk, simply titled “The Long Now,” Eno described the way he came to the name for our organization.

Instant world news and the internet has led to increased empathy worldwide. But empathy in space has not been matched by empathy in time.

He reckoned that if we can’t help but live in the moment of the “now,” why not make that moment longer – a “Long Now.”

We’re very pleased to announce that Brian Eno will be returning to San Francisco to talk again, with Long Now co-founder and 10,000 Year Clock inventor Danny Hillis, to celebrate the beginning of the second decade of SALT talks this January 02014.  Together, they’ll present “The Long Now, now” on January 21st, 02014 at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Members of Long Now will be able to reserve one complimentary ticket for this special evening, and purchase one additional ticket for a guest.

Members will also get advance notice of ticket availability; please note that the venue holds about 900 people. This event may sell out just through member tickets, so if you are considering membership, now is a great time to join and support Long Now and our mission to foster long-term thinking.

Adam Steltzner Seminar Media

Posted on Wednesday, October 30th, 02013 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.

Beyond Mars, Earth

Tuesday October 15, 02013 – San Francisco


Video is up on the Steltzner Seminar page for Members.


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


Mighty daring on Mars
a summary by Stewart Brand

Engineer Steltzner took his rapt audience striding with him through the wrong solutions for landing a one-ton rover on Mars that his team worked through a decade ago. Previous rovers had weighed 50 pounds, 385 pounds. This traveling “Mars Science Laboratory” would weigh 1,984 pounds. The old airbag trick wouldn’t work this time, nor would a palette, or legs.

After exhausting everything that looked reasonable but could not work, the team settled on a mini-rocket “sky crane” approach that might be able to work, but there was nothing reasonable-looking about it. Selling the concept, Steltzner invoked arguments such as: “Great works and great follies may be indistinguishable at the outset,” while reminding himself that “Sometimes what looks crazy is crazy.” To make things worse, the idea could not be tested on Earth, because our atmosphere and gravity situation is so different from Mars, “and simulations only answer things you know to worry about.”

Furthermore, the landing had to occur within a tiny target ellipse only 4 by 12 miles in the Gale Crater at the base of Mount Sharp, which stands 15,000 feet about the crater floor. To “kiss the Martian surface” at that spot, the landing system had to go through multiple stages (the “seven minutes of terror”) totally on its own, decelerating violently from 10,000 miles per hour to a gentle 0 mph without a single flaw at any stage. On August 6, 2012, with the whole world watching, the system performed perfectly, and Steltzner’s team at JPL exploded with high-fives and tears on the world’s screens.

After showing the video, Steltzner asked, “Why do it, why spend the $2.5 billion the mission cost?” One eternal question about Mars is whether life is there, or was there. This rover has already determined that Mars once had sufficient amounts of the right kind of water that life could have managed there. “It would have been something bacterial, pond-scummy.” He is now at work on a conjectural series of three missions to bring samples of Martian material back to Earth. The first mission would collect and cache the samples; the second would launch the cache to Mars orbit; the third would return it to Earth. Later projects should explore the ice-covered ocean of Jupiter’s moon Europa and the methane lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan.

“With this kind of exploration,“ Steltzner said, “we’re really asking questions about ourselves. How great is our reach? How grand are we? Exploration of this kind is not practical, but it is essential.” He quoted Theodore Roosevelt: “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Steltzner reminded the audience of the relative inhospitability of Mars and the intense inhospitability of space. “Outside of the magnetic field of this planet that shelters us from the streaming radiation of the Sun, it’s a really nasty place. It’s inconceivably cold or indescribably hot, bathed in radiation.” To contemplate terraforming Mars or building colonies in space, he said, makes solving the problems here on Earth of maintaining this planet’s exquisite balance for life seem so obvious and doable.

In the harsh lifelessness of space we discover how precious is life on Earth.

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Richard Kurin Seminar Tickets

Posted on Tuesday, October 22nd, 02013 by Austin Brown
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The Long Now Foundation’s monthly

Seminars About Long-term Thinking

Richard Kurin on American History in 101 Objects

Richard Kurin on “American History in 101 Objects”


Monday November 18, 02013 at 7:30pm SFJAZZ Center

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


About this Seminar:

Relics grip us. They anchor stories that matter by giving a visceral sense that they really happened. Look, here is the actual chain used on an American slave. What ended its use? Abraham Lincoln was tall in so many ways, and he stood even taller in his top hat—this hat right here. He wore it. We wear it. The hat and the chain abide at The Smithsonian Institution to help an important story in American history retain its force. This is what museums do.

Richard Kurin, the author of a new book, The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, is the Institution’s Under Secretary for Art, History, and Culture, responsible for most of the Institution’s many museums and for many of its research and outreach programs.

In his beautifully illustrated talk, Kurin uses treasures of The Smithsonian—some celebrated, some unknown—to tell America’s story so far. It starts long before there was a nation here.