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Author Archive


by Kevin Kelly on December 11th, 02008

Digital continuity is a real problem. Digital information is very easy to copy within short periods of time, but very difficult to copy over long periods of time. That is, it is very easy to make lots of copies now, but very difficult to get the data to copy over a century. For two reasons. . .   Read More

Long View Recycling for a Continent

by Kevin Kelly on December 2nd, 02008

Because of the name I noticed this art project:
The Art of Recycling in Antarctica: The Long View

According to the NSF site: The “Art of Recycling in Antarctica: The Long View” project conceived by artist, Michael Bartalos will result in a sculptural book made from recyclable materials collected at McMurdo and South Pole stations. . .   Read More

The Wisdom of Public Prediction Markets

by Kevin Kelly on September 4th, 02008

Prediction markets continue to proliferate. These communities use money to bet on outcomes in the future. If a prediction comes true, the winners reap the money from the losing betters. The price of a bet, or share, fluctuates over time — and thus can be used as a signal for the community’s opinion. In theory. . .   Read More

Neal Stephenson and the 10,000-Year Clock

by Kevin Kelly on September 2nd, 02008

In 1998 Danny Hillis asked some friends to make sketches of what they imagined a 10,000-year clock should look like. Science fiction author Neal Stephenson, among others, provided several sketches. One of them outlines a clock contained in concentric circles of walls, which opens to outsiders at specific preordained intervals.

Stephenson’s handwritten. . .   Read More

Very Long-Term Backup

by Kevin Kelly on August 20th, 02008

Paper, it turns out, is a very reliable backup medium for information.  While it can burn or dissolve in water, good acid-free versions of paper are otherwise stable over the long term, cheap to warehouse, and oblivious to technological change because its pages are “eye-scanable.”  No special devices needed. Well-made. . .   Read More

Temporary Becomes Permanent

by Kevin Kelly on August 13th, 02008

Most permanent things begin as a temporary fix. A footpath becomes a road becomes a highway. A quick hut becomes a house becomes a hotel. A doodle becomes a logo becomes a brand. A patch becomes an operating keystone. A camp becomes a city.

Very few infrastructure details begin with the idea that they will. . .   Read More

Generational Theater

by Kevin Kelly on August 11th, 02008

Brian Eno emailed this note to the Long Now list:

Yesterday I had the good fortune to find myself in Oberammergau, in Upper Bavaria.

In the early seventeenth century, as plague raced across Europe, the people of this small town made a deal with God: spare us and we’ll perform a Passion play every. . .   Read More

Is the “First Movable Type” a Hoax?

by Kevin Kelly on July 13th, 02008

The Phaistos Disc is an archeological object that some have considered the oldest example of moveable type in history. The characters on the clay disc were stamped from a set of “seals” creating a text written in a spiral, although neither the text nor the language of the text has been deciphered. It is presumed. . .   Read More

Where the Linear Crosses the Exponential

by Kevin Kelly on July 3rd, 02008

Freeman Dyson is my favorite big picture thinker. He tackles the world with both his heart and his calculator. He enjoys entertaining suspect heresies just to see if he can learn anything from them. He’ll take an unusual position and then calculate what would happen if it were true. Do the rough numbers match. . .   Read More

The 100 Oldest Companies

by Kevin Kelly on June 13th, 02008

Most companies don’ t live as long as most humans. Their relative short life has to do with culture’s rapidly shifting interests, and the difficulty of transmitting values and goals beyond the original founders. When viewed this way, it is a wonder any group of workers would continue to exist after the founding group. . .   Read More