Blog Archive for the ‘Manual for Civilization’ Category

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The Manual for Civilization takes The Knight Foundation News Challenge

Posted on Saturday, October 18th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Manual for Civilization Knight News Challenge

What captures your imagination about the future of libraries?

That’s the question asked by The Knight Foundation in an open call for innovative library projects. There have been 680 proposals from around the country, and only a few days remain to give feedback and “Applaud” your favorites.  We think our Manual for Civilization project fits well with The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge funding goal:

We view libraries as key for improving Americans’ ability to know about and to be involved with what takes place around them. The library has been a vital part of our communities for centuries—as keepers of public knowledge, spaces for human connection, educators for the next generations of learners. While habits are changing, those needs have not. We want to discover projects that help carry the values of libraries into the future.

Take a moment to read our proposal, comment, and click the Applause button to show your support for the Manual for Civilization. Many projects will be funded to fulfill the News Challenge’s aim of [accelerating] media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Your applause could help the Manual be one of them.

The Manual for Civilization is a crowd-curated library of the 3500 books most essential to sustain or rebuild civilization. Knight Foundation funds will help us complete our collection of books–including many rare, hard-to-find titles. It would also support live events to engage the community and online initiatives providing broader access to the project. Read more on the News Challenge website.

Last Day of the Interval Brickstarter: Put Your Name on Our Wall

Posted on Wednesday, October 1st, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Stewart Brand - a Library is a window

Tonight is your last chance to become an Interval Charter Donor
all donors by 9pm Pacific on 10/1/02014 will be listed on our Donor Wall
at The Interval in San Francisco. Please help us reach our goal!

Today culminates two years of raising funds to build and open The Interval at Long Now.

We have had an incredible response from people around the world donating to help us complete Long Now’s new home which is also a gathering place for our members and the public. Only a few hours left and we are getting ever closer.

Thanks so much to all of you who have donated to our ‘brickstarter’ so far

If we make the goal we’ll throw a big party for our Charter Donors and the top donors will get a special tasting session with the Gin Possibility Machine that will be our Bespoke Gin Robot.

We hope you will consider a donation, or just spread the word to help us reach our participation goal of 1000 Charter Donors.

But just by the fact you are reading this blog means you’re showing an interest in long-term thinking. So thanks to you, because you are a part of realizing our mission to help everyone think more in the long now.

 photo by Catherine Borgeson

David Brin, Bruce Sterling & Daniel Suarez – Manual for Civilization Lists

Posted on Monday, September 29th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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IMG_8330-LPhoto by Particia Chang

Our brickstarter drive for The Interval at Long Now ends October 1, 02014. Please consider a donation today to support completing The Interval, the home of the Manual for Civilization.

The Manual for Civilization is a crowd-curated collection of the 3500 books you would most want to sustain or rebuild civilization. It is also the library at The Interval, with about 1000 books on shelves floor-to-ceiling throughout the space. We are about a third of the way done with compiling the list and acquiring selected the titles.

We have a set of four categories to guide selections:

  • Cultural Canon: Great works of literature, nonfiction, poetry, philosophy, etc
  • Mechanics of Civilization: Technical knowledge, to build and understand things
  • Rigorous Science Fiction: Speculative stories about potential futures
  • Long-term Thinking, Futurism, and relevant history (Books on how to think about the future that may include surveys of the past)

Our list comes from suggestions by Interval donors, Long Now members, and some specially-invited guests with particular expertise. All the book lists we’ve published so far are shown here including lists from Brian Eno, Stewart Brand, Maria Popova, and Neal Stephenson. Interval donors will be the first to get the full list when it is complete.

Today we add selections from science fiction authors Bruce SterlingDavid Brin, and Daniel Suarez. All three are known for using contemporary science and technology as a starting point from which to speculate on the future. And that type of practice is exactly why Science Fiction is one of our core categories.

David Brin is a scientist, futurist and author who has won science fiction’s highest honors including the Locus, Campbell, Nebula, and Hugo awards. His 01991 book Earth is filled with predictions for our technological future, many of which have already come true. He has served on numerous advisory committees for his scientific expertise.

David BrinDavid Brin (photo by Cheryl Brigham)

David Brin’s list

Bruce Sterling‘s first novel was published in 01977. In 01985 he edited Mirrorshades the defining Cyberpunk anthology, and went on to win two Hugos and a Campbell award for his science fiction. His non-fiction writing including his long-running column for Wired are also influential. He spoke for Long Now in 02004.

Bruce Sterling (Photo by Heisenberg Media)Bruce Sterling (photo by Heisenberg Media)

Bruce Sterling’s list

Daniel Suarez made a huge stir with his 02006 self-published debut novel Daemon . Its success led to him speaking in 02008 for Long Now’s Seminar series and to a deal with a major publisher. In 02014 he published his fourth novel Influx.

Daniel SuarezDaniel Suarez (photo by Steve Payne)

Daniel Suarez’s list

Getting science fiction recommendations from great authors is an honor and a privilege. And we appreciation their support for The Interval, in helping to give it the best library possible, as well as of The Long Now Foundation as a whole. Books from all three of these authors will appear in the Manual for Civilization, as well as these selections that they’ve made of books that are important to them.

We hope that you will give us your list, too. If you’ve donated then you should have the link to submit books. And if you haven’t, then hurry up and give before October 1 at 5pm–your last chance to become a charter donor.

 

The Interval at Long Now in San FranciscoPhoto by Because We Can 

Science Fiction to Science Fabrication Talk at The Interval July 1, 02014

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Novysan speaks 7/1/02014 at The Interval

Tickets are on sale for Science Fiction to Science Fabrication July 1, 02014 at The Interval

Artist/maker/hacker Dan Novy (Novysan) is an Emmy award-winning transmedia storyteller with a background in theater, a host of film and television credits, and a research/PHD-candidate position at the MIT Media Lab. Last fall he and his colleague Sophia Bruckner taught Science Fiction to Science Fabrication (aka “Pulp to Prototype”) at the Lab; their students read classic and contemporary science fiction and then built prototypes based on the worlds they’d read about.

The authors they read included J. G. Ballard, Arthur C. Clarke, Warren Ellis, Daniel Suarez and William Gibson. The point was that the fantastic future worlds of speculative fiction are often essential precursors to real world technology. Novy’s own work in Immersive Display technologies and Non-Invasive Narrative Neurostimulation has drawn inspiration directly from the works of Neal Stephenson and Ray Bradbury. He’ll tell us more about the class and share some thoughts about the Manual for Civilization as well.

This event is part of a new series of salon talks at The Interval. Next up in the series is Violet Blue on Tuesday, June 17 discussing long-term online privacy models and her latest book The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy. Tickets are still available.

Violet Blue at The Interval
The Interval at Long Now is Long Now’s new home which is now open seven-days-a-week. A cafe and museum by day and with a cocktail, beer, and wine menu after 5pm, The Interval features art designed by Brian Eno and artifacts from our 10,000-year Clock. Several Tuesday nights a month The Interval hosts salon events.

Manual for Civilization Book List from Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 02014 by Mikl Em
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Mark Pauline, Survival Research Labs
Photo of Mark Pauline by Karen Marcelo

What information is essential to sustaining civilization? What books would you want to have if we had to start from scratch? What references would we need available to rebuild what we have today? Long Now is collecting 3,500 books based on those questions to form a Manual for Civilization. We’ve asked for suggestions from Long Now members, donors to The Interval at Long Now (where this library will be housed), and a diverse, distinguished group of experts who we’ve invited to help.

Mark Pauline, Survival Research Labs

Today’s list of additions to the Manual for Civilization comes from a groundbreaking artist whose work suggests a post-apocalyptic future full of fiery marauding mechanical creatures. For 35+ years Mark Pauline has been building and destroying machines as founder and leader of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL).

Two decades before Robot Wars and BattleBots made DIY-built robo-gladiators a television spectacle, Mark Pauline and SRL were creating their own machines out of industrial detritus and staging underground events in San Francisco that were full of flying metal, shooting fire and lots and lots of noise.

Since 01978, SRL has produced more than 50 events around the world with a mission to “[re-direct] the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare.” Here’s what that looks like:

Photo by Jacob Appelbaum http://appelbaum.net
Photos by Jacob Appelbaum http://appelbaum.net
Photo by Jacob Appelbaum http://appelbaum.net
SRL show photos by Jacob Appelbaum

Mark’s book list includes the nearly 3,000-page Machinery’s Handbook plus fiction by Ballard, Burroughs and Pynchon amongst others. His one historical entry, unsurprisingly, is a social history of technology and warfare: War in the Age of Intelligent Machines.

Here are Mark Pauline’s complete selections for the Manual for Civilization:

Photo by Jacob Appelbaum http://appelbaum.net
SRL show photos by Jacob Appelbaum

Thanks so much to Mark for taking the time to give us this great list. If the robo-uprising happens, now we’ll be ready.

Previously we’ve shared book lists from Neal Stephenson, Kevin Kelly, Maria Popova, and Brian Eno amongst others, and more suggestions are coming in from Long Now members and Interval donors. We are starting to acquire physical books for the shelves and are working with the Internet Archive to make digital versions of all these books available online. So whether you are visiting us at The Interval in San Francisco or on the other side of the world you can access the Manual for Civilization collection.

To add your recommendations for the Manual for Civilization and vote for which suggested titles should find a place on The Interval’s shelves, just make a donation to support the project. All donors, at any level, can suggest and vote on books. And your support will help give long-term thinkers an inspiring place to gather, full of amazing books.

The Interval at Long Now opens in May 02014

This week The Interval “brickstarter” surpassed $400K in funding. That’s more than 80% of our fundraising goal. This covers the capital improvements and redesign of our space at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, including the build-out of a beautiful bar/café/event space for the public, offices for Long Now staff, and a world class audio-visual system for showcasing sound and visuals by Brian Eno.

We have a few weeks left to reach our final goal before we open our doors in May. Charter donors will get invites to pre-opening parties and lots of other great benefits. Very soon we’ll share details about our opening dates and the first events we’ll host at The Interval.

The Knowledge

Posted on Saturday, April 19th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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The-Knowledge-Full-Cover_lowres

One of the early inspirations for creating the Manual for Civilization was an email I received from Lewis Dartnell in London asking me for information on a book he was writing inspired by James Lovelock’s “Book for all Seasons”.  The idea was a kind of reboot manual for humanity, and it coincided well with some other conversations we had been having at Long Now about making a collection of books that could do something similar.

Fast forward to 02014 and Lewis has finished his book “The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch” which comes out today, and he was kind enough to send us a copy for our Manual for Civilization library collection. Since this is a single volume you might be wondering how much practical knowledge a book like this could actually impart. This book gives the reader a basic strategy for rebooting civilization – not every detail. For instance if you wanted to get a certain technology up and running again, which method should you employ given what we now know about modern and historical methods? Dartnell goes over the basic principle for each fundamental technology, and then discusses best options for how to rebuild it with scavenged materials (always easier), or how you might do it from scratch. He starts with the most critical and fundamental, and then builds on each of these as the book progresses. So in a way the book kind of boot straps itself from chapter to chapter. The overall goal, it seems, is to make the “hole” referred to in the graph below smaller and recover faster than the one left after the fall of Rome. (yes I know there are lots of issues with that graph but it illustrates the point of a loss of technology in civilizations)

darkages

The Knowledge is not another survival guide for gun toting doomsday “preppers”, or those excited for the zombie apocalypse, but both crowds might get something out of it. It is also not a standalone book, Lewis has published his chapter by chapter further reading list and bibliography alongside it that contains the nitty gritty details for each of the technologies discussed. You should consider The Knowledge a primer and table of contents for that larger reading list. We are happy to have The Knowledge in our collection for this reason.

Dartnell has also been following The Manual for Civilization project and has submitted his own list of books for our collection, which we include below. He considers these to be the most useful from his bibliography.  You can also follow updates and new information around the book via twitter @KnowledgeCiv.

Neal Stephenson’s Selected Books for the Manual for Civilization

Posted on Thursday, April 17th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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 NealReads

Best-selling author Neal Stephenson has added a couple dozen books to the Manual for Civilization. Long Now is assembling a corpus of 3,500 volumes that would help sustain or rebuild civilization. This collection will be featured at The Interval, our new public space, as a floor-to-ceiling library available to our visitors. The collection will comprise books suggested by Long Now members and charter donors to the Interval project. We’ve also invited a select group of eminent friends of Long Now, including archivists, artists, authors, educators, scientists and more, to submit lists of the books they believe are essential to Civilization.

Neal Stephenson is an author of speculative fiction whose ground-breaking novels include Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, and Anathem, a book based in a world of 10,000 Year Clocks inspired by our own Clock of the Long Now. In fact, Neal is both a Long Now member and a charter donor to The Interval. You can join him by making a tax-deductible gift before we open in May. Every donation helps now when we need it most, and we have some wonderful ways to thank you at every level. 

For thirty years Neal Stephenson’s writing has been distinguished by how he weaves minutely detailed historical and technical information into his complex stories, usually with a wicked sense of humor. Whether it’s fashion in Victorian England or World War II era cryptography, his dedication to detailed research is readily apparent. The Baroque Cycle novels perhaps most exemplify this, as they focus on key people and events in the development of science across many cultures in the 17th and 18th centuries. We knew his recommendations would be invaluable for this project.

Many of the research sources for his novels can be found in his home library. And it was an honor and privilege that Neal walked me through his library and thoughtfully selected the list of books below for the Manual for Civilization. You can see from his selections that he believes understanding history is essential to creating the best possible future.

NealStephensonBk

Many thanks to Neal Stephenson for taking the time and care to recommend these books for our collection. His list adds to suggestions from Kevin Kelly, Maria Popova, Violet Blue, Stewart Brand, Brian Eno and dozens of other Long Now members and supporters.

Starting in late May you can visit the Manual yourself at The Interval, Long Now’s new public venue in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. The Interval will also feature Long Now artifacts and prototypes, sound and light art installations by Brian Eno, a cocktail menu designed on the theme of time, fine coffee and tea, and small scale events on long-term thinking and related topics.

Check back for lists from Danny Hillis and Neil Gaiman, amongst others. And for details on The Interval’s May 02014 public opening, as well as pre-opening events for charter donors. Your gifts help us pay for construction, acquire the books for the Manual for Civilization, build the A/V system to present Brian Eno’s art, and everything else that will make The Interval a one-of-a-kind venue worthy of Long Now’s mission to inspire and extol long-term thinking. Thanks for considering a gift.

Manual for Civilization Shelf level

33 Books on How to Live and a Russian Nesting Doll

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 02014 by Catherine Borgeson
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Photo by Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

Long Now Member Maria Popova is the mastermind behind the popular cultural blog of ideas known as Brain Pickings.  The blog was founded in 02006, where she has been reviewing books, writing multiple blog entries and tweeting 50 times a day, all while balancing on a wobble board. The lifelong bibliophile has also written for Wired UK, The New York Times, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. And now, she has compiled her own reading list of 33 books to add to the collection of the 3,500 volumes most essential to sustain and rebuild civilization.

When we launched the Manual for Civilization project, it was a natural fit with Popova’s interests and expertise. She reviewed Brian Eno’s selections for the Manual for Civilization and contemplated Stewart Brand’s 76-book list, noting that only 1.5 of the books Brand suggested were authored by women. Here is an excerpt of her thoughtful reflections when creating her own list:

In grappling with the challenge, I faced a disquieting and inevitable realization: The predicament of diversity is like a Russian nesting doll — once we crack one layer, there’s always another, a fractal-like subdivision that begins at the infinite and approaches the infinitesimal, getting exponentially granular with each layer, but can never be fully finished. If we take, for instance, the “women problem” — to paraphrase Margaret Atwood — then what about Black women? Black queer women? Non-Western Black queer women? Non-English-speaking non-Western Black queer women? Non-English-speaking non-Western Black queer women of Jewish descent? And on and on. Due to that infinite fractal progression, no attempt to “solve” diversity — especially no thirty-item list — could ever hope to be complete. The same goes for other variables like genre or subject: For every aficionado of fiction, there’s one of drama, then 17th-century drama, then 17th-century Italian drama, and so on.

Popova presents us with a set of books that have helped her learn “how to make sense of ourselves, our world, and our place in it.” Many of her selected books have additional links to detailed reviews she previously wrote, providing a great deal of insight and context. So rather than listing the books here, you can find Popova’s reading list where it is best written: “33 Books on How to Live: My Reading List for the Long Now Foundation’s Manual for Civilization.”

The Brooklyn-based editor will be speaking with author Caroline Paul at Hattery in San Francisco tomorrow, April 11, 02014. At the event titled “Brain Pickings: An Evening with Maria Popova,” (currently sold out) they will talk about “hunting and gathering on the internet, lessons on creativity, and musings such as the curious minds (and sleep habits) of famous writers past and present.”

Megan and Rick Prelinger’s Selected Books for the Manual for Civilization

Posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Prelingers

Today we continue the series of posts featuring the books suggested for the Manual for Civilization with a list from a couple of guerrilla archivists here in San Francisco, Megan and Rick Prelinger. In all, we hope to develop an ever-changing collection of 3,500 volumes to form a corpus which could sustain or rebuild civilization. To broaden our selection process we’ve asked Long Now members and Interval at Long Now donors to suggest books for the list.  Please join us and make your suggestions; we are just weeks away from opening.

fundraising

Rick Prelinger has the distinction of giving more presentations in our Seminars About Long-term Thinking series than anyone. The last six Decembers he’s presented a vintage film collection in his “Lost Landscapes” series, usually centered on family home movies and other non-professional sources. Megan is a cultural historian and archivist in her own right and is the author of Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957–1962. Megan’s knowledge of the US space program is encyclopedic and nuanced. Together they began the Prelinger Library in 02004 which is open to the public and focuses on their mutual interest in “ephemeral literature.” Megan came up with a unique organizational structure for their collection which is sorted by geography. As you will see, the collection has particularly great resources on the built landscape and the space program.

The Prelingers personally walked us through their library to select some singular additions to our Manual for Civilization collection. Like the others we have posted, their list is intended as a component of a larger corpus. Each subset of books represents a perspective, sometimes a highly specialized one, that will help to document and sustain this complex system we call Civilization. Enjoy.

3books

Many thanks to the Prelingers for taking the time and care to recommend these books for our collection.

Their list adds to suggestions from Kevin Kelly, Maria Popova, Violet Blue, Stewart Brand, Brian Eno and dozens of Long Now members and supporters.

You can visit the Manual in person and drink coffee, tea, or a cocktail while reading up on rabbit raising and bamboo cultivation at The Interval at Long Now. Or follow Neal Stephenson’s suggestion…


 

You’ll see Neal’s list of books here soon, as well as lists from Danny Hillis, Neil Gaiman, Mark Pauline, and others. And not long after that you’ll have the chance to visit The Interval in person. Construction is nearly complete, and the Interval will open later this Spring in San Francisco.

Thanks to many of you we have raised over 3/4 of our “brickstarter” goal. So we are asking for your generous support to help us finish construction and complete this project, including acquiring books for the Manual for Civilization.

Manual for Civilization Shelf level

Kevin Kelly’s Selected Books for the Manual for Civilization

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 02014 by Alexander Rose - Twitter: @zander
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Kevin Kelly selecting books for the Manual For Civilization (photo by Catherine Borgeson)

Kevin Kelly selecting books for the Manual For Civilization (photo by Catherine Borgeson)

Today we continue the series of posts featuring the books suggested for the Manual for Civilization with a large list from Long Now Founding Board Member Kevin Kelly. In all we hope to have as many as 3,500 volumes to form a corpus which could sustain or rebuild civilization. To broaden our selection process we’ve asked Long Now members and Interval at Long Now donors to suggest books for the list.

Last week one of our members, Maria Popova, who writes the great blog Brain Pickings, gave us her list of 33 books. We are big fans of her work, and we are honored to include her excellent selections. They join about 1,800 other books suggested so far by Long Now’s members, donors and friends. There is still room for a few thousand more suggestions…

To add your own recommendations of books to include in the Manual for Civilization and vote on which suggested titles should find a place on The Interval’s shelves, just make a donation to support the project. All donors, at any level, can suggest and vote on books. We have raised over $35,000 in the last month, but still need your help to complete this “brickstarter” funding campaign.

Interval379

For this week’s update Kevin Kelly gave us a tour of his personal library as he made his choices for the Manual for Civilization.  Among his many accomplishments, Kevin has ridden a bike or walked across several continents, has written for the Whole Earth Catalog, was founding editor of Wired, and has himself written several books–most recently the New York Times acclaimed Cool Tools.

Kevin has a knack for finding the most useful books in the world. In fact, he gave us the largest list of suggestions yet: nearly 200 in all. Pulled directly from the shelves of his own library, he gave us books that document practical skills, how to make useful things, and that teach and improve those who read them. Many of these books also appear as tools on his Cool Tools blog (now co-edited by Mark Frauenfelder).

A few choice selections at the top include his own comments on some of the books (you may need to hit the more below to see the full 200).

Practical Bamboos:The 50 Best Plants for Screens, Containers and More:
“I own a lot of bamboo books, but Practical Bamboos is by far the most useful of all. Other bamboo books are more encyclopedic; this one focuses on “only” the 50 most useful bamboo species, spelling out what types are good for fence rows, which are drought resistant, which work well in containers, and how to identify those variants from lookalikes. There’s very specific growing tips for each variety and solid advice about the principles of growing bamboo plants in general.”

Caveman Chemistry: 28 Projects, from the Creation of Fire to the Production of Plastics by Kevin M. Dunn

The Soundscape:
“The sound of modern life has a 60 hertz hum in the background because that’s the frequency of electricity (in North America). Add to that all the other vibrations of technological artifacts and all the sounds made by nature and you get the soundscape of the world. I learned to hear this sonic environment from this master observer. He gave me ears.”

The Backyard Blacksmith by Lorelei Sims

A Museum of Early American Tools:
“A story is told by each tool archived in this paper museum. The tool reveals the amazing things that can be done with your own body’s power, regulated by your eye and mind. Listening to the tool, you can understand how things are made. Not only do these tools run without electricity, they can be made with other hand tools. There’s enough information in these packed drawings by Eric Sloane to enable you to make them yourself, to use to make other things. It’s kind of magical.”

Civilizations: Ten Thousand Years of Ancient History by Jane McIntosh and Clint Twist

Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits:
“For nearly 40 years this guide has introduced boy scouts, 4H-ers, homesteaders, survivalists, and pet keepers to the practicalities of raising rabbits. Now in a new 4th edition, it’s still the best manual for getting started with rabbits for food or show.”

Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson

(more…)