robertogreco + longnow   70

The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” | The New Yorker
"Brand now describes himself as “post-libertarian,” a shift he attributes to a brief stint working with Jerry Brown, during his first term as California’s governor, in the nineteen-seventies, and to books like Michael Lewis’s “The Fifth Risk,” which describes the Trump Administration’s damage to vital federal agencies. “ ‘Whole Earth Catalog’ was very libertarian, but that’s because it was about people in their twenties, and everybody then was reading Robert Heinlein and asserting themselves and all that stuff,” Brand said. “We didn’t know what government did. The whole government apparatus is quite wonderful, and quite crucial. [It] makes me frantic, that it’s being taken away.” A few weeks after our conversation, Brand spoke at a conference, in Prague, hosted by the Ethereum Foundation, which supports an eponymous, open-source, blockchain-based computing platform and cryptocurrency. In his address, he apologized for over-valorizing hackers. “Frankly,” he said, “most of the real engineering was done by people with narrow ties who worked nine to five, often with federal money.”

Brand is nonetheless impressed by the new tech billionaires, and he described two startup founders as “unicorns” who “deserve every penny.” “One of the things I hear from the young innovators in the Bay Area these days is ‘How do you stay creative?’ ” Brand said. “The new crowd has this, in some ways, much more interesting problem of how you be creative, and feel good about the world, and collaborate, and all that stuff, when you have wads of money.” He is excited by their philanthropic efforts. “That never used to happen,” he said. “Philanthropy was something you did when you were retired, and you were working on your legacy, so the money went to the college or opera.”

Brand himself has been the beneficiary of tech’s new philanthropists. His main concern, the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit focussed on “long-term thinking,” counts Peter Thiel and Pierre Omidyar among its funders. The organization hosts a lecture series, operates a steampunk bar in San Francisco’s Fort Mason, and runs the Revive & Restore project, which aims to make species like the woolly mammoth and the passenger pigeon “de-extinct.” The Long Now Foundation is also in the process of erecting a gigantic monument to long-term thought, in Western Texas—a clock that will tick, once a year, for a hundred centuries. Jeff Bezos has donated forty-two million dollars to the construction project and owns the land on which the clock is being built. When I first heard about the ten-thousand-year clock, as it is known, it struck me as embodying the contemporary crisis of masculinity. I was not thinking about death.

Although Brand is in good health and is a dedicated CrossFit practitioner, working on long-term projects has offered him useful perspective. “You’re relaxed about your own death, because it’s a blip on the scale you’re talking about,” he said, then quoted Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms,” saying, “Much was decided before you were born.” Brand is concerned about climate change but bullish on the potential of nuclear energy, urbanization, and genetic modification. “I think whatever happens, most of life will keep going,” he said. “The degree to which it’s a nuisance—the degree to which it is an absolutely horrifying, unrelenting problem is what’s being negotiated.” A newfound interest in history has helped to inform this relaxed approach to the future. “It’s been a long hard slog for women. It’s been a long hard slog for people of color. There’s a long way to go,” he said. “And yet you can be surprised by successes. Gay marriage was unthinkable, and then it was the norm. In-vitro fertilization was unthinkable, and then a week later it was the norm. Part of the comfort of the Long Now perspective, and Steven Pinker has done a good job of spelling this out, is how far we’ve come. Aggregate success rate is astonishing.”

As I sat on the couch in my apartment, overheating in the late-afternoon sun, I felt a growing unease that this vision for the future, however soothing, was largely fantasy. For weeks, all I had been able to feel for the future was grief. I pictured woolly mammoths roaming the charred landscape of Northern California and future archeologists discovering the remains of the ten-thousand-year clock in a swamp of nuclear waste. While antagonism between millennials and boomers is a Freudian trope, Brand’s generation will leave behind a frightening, if unintentional, inheritance. My generation, and those after us, are staring down a ravaged environment, eviscerated institutions, and the increasing erosion of democracy. In this context, the long-term view is as seductive as the apolitical, inward turn of the communards from the nineteen-sixties. What a luxury it is to be released from politics––to picture it all panning out."
stewartband  wholeearthcatalog  technosolutionism  technology  libertarianism  2018  annawiener  babyboomers  boomers  millennials  generations  longnow  longnowfoundation  siliconvalley  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  politics  economics  government  time  apathy  apolitical  californianideology  stevenpinker  jennyholzer  change  handwashing  peterthiel  pierreomidyar  bayarea  donaldtrump  michaellewis  jerrybrown  california  us  technolibertarianism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
To survive our high-speed society, cultivate 'temporal bandwidth' | Alan Jacobs | Opinion | The Guardian
"It is hard to imagine a time more completely presentist than our own, more tethered to the immediate; and is hard to imagine a person more exemplary of our presentism than the current president of the United States.

Donald Trump is a creature of the instant, responsive only and wholly to immediate stimulus – which is why Twitter is his exclusive medium of written communication, and why when he speaks he cannot stick to a script. In this respect he differs little from anyone who spends a lot of time on social media; the social media ecosystem is designed to generate constant, instantaneous responses to the provocations of Now.

We cannot, from within that ecosystem, restore old behavioral norms or develop new and better ones. No, to find a healthier alternative, we must cultivate what the great American novelist Thomas Pynchon calls “temporal bandwidth” – an awareness of our experience as extending into the past and the future.

In Pynchon’s 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow, an engineer named Kurt Mondaugen explains that temporal bandwidth is “the width of your present, your now … The more you dwell in the past and future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.”

If we want to extend our bandwidth, we begin with the past, because exploring the past requires only willingness. Recently, I was teaching the Epistles of the Roman poet Horace to a group of undergraduates. Though Horace comes from a world alien in so many ways to ours – and though he would surely fail any possible test of political correctness of the left or right – we found ourselves resonating powerfully with his quest for “a tranquil mind”. Indeed, Horace recommends just what I am arguing for now: “Interrogate the writings of the wise,” he counsels his friend Lollius Maximus:

“Asking them to tell you how you can

Get through your life in a peaceable tranquil way.

Will it be greed, that always feels poverty-stricken,

That harasses and torments you all your days?

Will it be hope and fear about trivial things,

In anxious alternation in your mind?

Where is it virtue comes from, is it from books?

Or is it a gift from Nature that can’t be learned?

What is the way to become a friend to yourself?

What brings tranquility? What makes you care less?”"



"Another benefit of reflecting on the past is awareness of the ways that actions in one moment reverberate into the future. You see that some decisions that seemed trivial when they were made proved immensely important, while others which seemed world-transforming quickly sank into insignificance. The “tenuous” self, sensitive only to the needs of This Instant, always believes – often incorrectly – that the present is infinitely consequential. That frame of mind is dangerously susceptible to alarmist notions, like the idea that “2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die” – a claim that many Trump supporters accepted as gospel, without even inquiring what “die” might mean in that context.

Only a severe constriction of temporal bandwidth could make such a claim seem even possible. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton and cannot envision circumstances in which I would have done so, but the idea that her election would mean death (even metaphorical death) for conservatives and Christians is absurd. It would, rather, have meant the continuation of the centrist policies of her predecessor. The idea that the United States in 2016 was faced with a choice between Trump and Death, an idea driven by ignorance of even the recent past, also had the effect of disabling care for the future.

What will Trump’s policies do to international trade? What will they do to immigrant families, including those in this country legally? What will they do to the increasingly toxic state of race relations? What will they do to the health of the planet? The Trump-or-Death binary dismissed all those questions as irrelevant, and we are living with the consequences.

But these questions are essential, if we are to extend our temporal bandwidth into the future as well as the past. (And the refusal of them shows how indifference to the past makes it impossible to consider the future.) I am a Christian, and I have been dismayed at how easily many of my fellow Christians have cast aside their long-held convictions, merely to exchange their rich birthright for a cold serving of Trumpian triumphalism. As David French recently wrote in National Review, in an open letter to his fellow evangelicals: “Soon enough, the ‘need’ to defend Trump will pass. He’ll be gone from the American scene. Then, you’ll stand in the wreckage of your own reputation and ask yourself, ‘Was it worth it?’ The answer will be as clear then as it should be clear now. It’s not, and it never was.”

The bitter irony here is that so many American Christians, who often claim to have “an eternal perspective”, turned out, in 2016, to have no perspective beyond that of the immediate moment. They have left their own future, and that of the country they claim to love, uncared for and unreflected on. Someday, along will come some politician they despise whose personal morality will be even more contemptible than Trump’s, and they will be reduced to silence – or, if they insist on speaking out anyway, will merely testify to their own rank hypocrisy. “Was it worth it?”

Forty years ago, the German philosopher Hans Jonas, in a book that would prove a vital inspiration for the Green movement in his country, asked a potent question: “What force shall represent the future in the present?” In other words, what laws and norms will embody our care for those who come after us, including those already here and those yet to be born? But this is a question that we cannot ask if our thoughts are imprisoned by the stimulation of what rolls across our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Pynchon’s Mondaugen comments on the personal tenuousness of those who live only in the moment: “It may get to where you’re having trouble remembering what you were doing five minutes ago.” And of course, no person so afflicted can recall, much less be accountable for, what he said yesterday, which is why those who work for Donald Trump have had to learn that yesterday’s truth is today’s lie, and today’s lie will be tomorrow’s truth.

But, again, Trump didn’t create this situation: he found in social media and soundbite TV news an environment ready-made for the instincts he already possessed, an environment in which tenuousness is less a condition to lament than the primary instrument of ultimate celebrity and ultimate power. Trump may be 71 years old, but he is the future of our collective temperament – unless we develop some temporal bandwidth. It’s best that we start now."
alanjacobs  time  attention  politics  religion  2018  donaldtrump  thomaspynchon  temporalbandwidth  horace  futue  past  vulnerability  precarity  immediacy  socialmedia  twitter  inequality  greed  longnow  hansjonas  entanglement  facebook 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Granta 138: Journeys - Sigrid Rausing - Google Books
"Instead of more consumerism — the buying of experiences, the accumulation of things, of eating the 'other' — perhaps writers should name their own environment. What is the shape of your watershed? How is your electricity produced? Where is your water treated? Where is your food produced and by whom and how does it travel to your local market? What are the names of the rocks under your feet and around you? What formed those geological features? Who were the first humans here? What flora and fauna live upon it and what are their habits and interfaces? What stars whirl above you and what names have they been given, what lore? How can one trace the relations, find the slippages between histories, the linkages, to find the complexities in naming and of the named? Travel as one's carbon footprint; travel as a footstep, travel as a naming in a landscape in all its complexity. Homing as a way to place oneself in a constellation of process and being."
— Hao Nguyen"

[via: https://twitter.com/jbushnell/status/933009417322319872 ]
haonguyen  local  consumerism  capitalism  place  bighere  classideas  history  longnow 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Nicky Case: Seeing Whole Systems - The Long Now
"Nicky Case is an independent game developer who creates interactive games and simulations including Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



Nicky Case’s presentations are as ingenious, compelling, and graphically rich as the visualizing tools and games Nicky creates for understanding complex dynamic systems.

Case writes: “We need to see the non-linear feedback loops between culture, economics, and technology. Not only that, but we need to see how collective behavior emerges from individual minds and motives. We need new tools, theories, and visualizations to help people talk across disciplines.”

Nicky Case is the creator of Parable of the Polygons (02014), Coming Out Simulator (02014), We Become What We Behold (02016), To Build A Better Ballot (02016), and LOOPY (02017).



How to finesse complexity

HE BEGAN, “Hi, I’m Nicky Case, and I explain complex systems in a visual, tangible, and playful way.” He did exactly that with 207 brilliant slides and clear terminology. What system engineers call “negative feedback,” for example, Case calls “balancing loops.” They maintain a value. Likewise “positive feedback” he calls “reinforcing loops.” They increase a value

Using examples and stories such as the viciousness of the board game Monopoly and the miracle of self-organizing starlings, Case laid out the visual basics of finessing complex systems. A reinforcing loop is like a ball on the top of a hill, ready to accelerate downhill when set in motion. A balancing loop is like a ball in a valley, always returning to the bottom of the valley when perturbed.

Now consider how to deal with a situation where you have an “attractor” (a deep valley) that attracts a system toward failure:

[image]

The situation is precarious for the ball because it is near a hilltop that is a reinforcing loop. If the ball is nudged over the top, it will plummet to the bottom of the balancing-loop valley and be stuck there. It would take enormous effort raise the ball out of such an attractor—which might be financial collapse or civil war. Case’s solution is not to try to move the ball, MOVE THE HILLS—identify the balancing and reinforcing loops in the system and weaken or strengthen them as needed to reconfigure the whole system so that the desired condition becomes the dominant attractor.

Now add two more characteristics of the real world—dense networks and chaos (randomness). They make possible the phenomena of emergence (a whole that is different than the sum of its parts) and evolution. Evolution is made of selection (managed by reinforcing and balancing loops) plus variation (unleashed by dense networks and chaos). You cannot control evolution and should not try--that way lies totalitarianism. Our ever popular over-emphasis on selection can lead to paralyzed systems—top-down autocratic governments and frozen businesses. Case urges attention to variation, harnessing networks and chaos from the bottom up via connecting various people from various fields, experimenting with lots of solutions, and welcoming a certain amount of randomness and play. “Design for evolution,” Case says, “and the system will surprise you with solutions you never thought of.”

To do that, “Make chaos your friend.”

--Stewart Brand"
systems  systemsthinking  nickycase  2017  illustration  visualization  longnow  maps  mapping  stewartbrand  games  gaming  gamedesign  capitalism  socialism  monopoly  economics  technology  culture  precarity  chaos  networks  evolution  socialtrust  voting  design  complexity  abstraction  communication  jargon  unknown  loopiness  alinear  feedbackloops  interconnectedness  dataviz  predictions  interconnected  nonlinear  linearity  interconnectivity 
august 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - FutureProofing, The Future of the Future
"Does the accelerating pace of technology change the way we think about the future?

It's said that science fiction writers now spend more time telling stories about today than about tomorrow, because the potential of existing technology to change our world is so rich that there is no need to imagine the future - it's already here. Does this mean the future is dead? Or that we are experiencing a profound shift in our understanding of what the future means to us, how it arrives, and what forces will shape it?

Presenters Timandra Harkness and Leo Johnson explore how our evolving understanding of time and the potential of technological change are transforming the way we think about the future."
future  2017  mattnovak  sciencefiction  scifi  timandraharkness  leojohnson  time  technology  learning  howwelive  change  1960s  1950s  alexanerrose  prediction  bigdata  stability  flexibility  adaptability  astroteller  googlex  longnow  longnowfoundation  uncertainty  notknowing  simulation  generativedesign  dubai  museumofthefuture  agency  lawrenceorsini  implants  douglascoupland  belllabs  infrastructure  extremepresent  sfsh  classideas  present  past  history  connectivity  internet  web  online  futurism  futures  smartphones  tv  television  refrigeration  seancarroll 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Deep time’s uncanny future is full of ghostly human traces | Aeon Ideas
"We are accustomed to the idea of geology and astronomy speaking the secrets of ‘deep time’, the immense arc of non-human history that shaped the world as we perceive it. Hawkes’s lyrical meditation mingles the intimate and the eternal, the biological and the inanimate, the domestic with a sense of deep time that is very much of its time. The state of the topsoil was a matter of genuine concern in a country wearied by wartime rationing, while land itself rises into focus just as Britain is rethinking its place in the world. But in lying down in her garden, Hawkes also lies on the far side of a fundamental boundary. A Land was written at the cusp of the Holocene; we, on the other hand, read it in the Anthropocene."



"Deep time represents a certain displacement of the human and the divine from the story of creation. Yet in the Anthropocene, ironically we humans have become that sublime force, the agents of a fearful something that is greater than ourselves. A single mine in Canada’s tar sands region moves 30 billion tonnes of sediment annually, double the quantity moved by all the worlds’ rivers combined. The weight of the fresh water we have redistributed has slowed the Earth’s rotation. The mass extinction of plant and animal species is unlikely to recover for 10 million years."



"There is also something disturbingly banal about the Anthropocene. Arguably, it’s in the encounter with everyday objects, surfaces and textures that we get the best sense of its scope and scale. Some 60 billion chickens are killed for human consumption each year; in the future, fossilised chicken bones will be present on every continent as a testimony to the intrusion of human desires in the geological record. Plastics, which began being mass-produced in the middle of the 20th century, give us back the world as the West has been taught to see it – pliable, immediately available, and smoothed to our advantage. Yet almost every piece of plastic ever made remains in existence in some form, and their chemical traces are increasingly present in our bodies. It is ironic that the characteristic ‘new’ smell of PVC is the result of the unstable elements in the material decaying. Although ostensibly inert, like Chernobyl’s ‘undead’ isotopes, plastics are in fact intensely lively, leaching endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Single-use plastic might seem to disappear when I dispose of it, but it (and therefore I) will nonetheless continue to act on the environments in which it persists for millennia.

The Anthropocene is a product of our fantasies of a frictionless, hyper-connected world. Humans created 5 billion gigabytes of digital information in 2003; in 2013 it took only 10 minutes to produce the same amount of data. Despite the appealing connotations of ‘the cloud’, this data has to go somewhere. Greenpeace estimates that the power consumption of just one of Apple’s immense data centres is equivalent to the annual supply for 250,000 European homes. Traces of this seemingly ephemeral data will persist into the deep time of the future, as rising concentrations of carbon warms the atmosphere."



"Deep time is not an abstract, distant prospect, but a spectral presence in the everyday. The irony of the Anthropocene is that we are conjuring ourselves as ghosts that will haunt the very deep future."
anthropocene  plastic  deeptime  science  time  longnow  humans  chickens  2016  davidfarrier  environment  earth  holocene  consumption  materialism 
november 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no.3: non-ecological thinking
"When we think of the power to focus on a particular problem and solve it, we generally think of it as a useful ability. But what if the power to focus comes at the exclusion of the larger picture? Those responsible for putting new technological products into the public domain are often guilty of thinking in very localised terms - in other words, non-ecologically. This constraint is essentially about a chronic lack of lateral thinking; of being so focused on the immediate action or problem that implications for the broader ecology are ignored.

This was pioneering ecologist Charles Elton’s advice in 1927:
When an ecologist says ‘there goes a badger’, he should include in his thoughts some definite idea of the animal’s place in the community to which it belongs, just as if he had said, ‘there goes the vicar.

More recently, the cultural critic Neil Postman described technological change as ecological (in ‘Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change’, 1998):
Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. I can explain this best by an analogy. What happens if we place a drop of red dye into a beaker of clear water? Do we have clear water plus a spot of red dye? Obviously not. We have a new coloration to every molecule of water. That is what I mean by ecological change. A new medium does not add something; it changes everything. In the year 1500, after the printing press was invented, you did not have old Europe plus the printing press. You had a different Europe. After television, America was not America plus television. Television gave a new coloration to every political campaign, to every home, to every school, to every church, to every industry, and so on.

So what happens when that dye is added? There are some obvious history lessons. To return to the nature analogy, for example, there is the introduction of humans - and with them rats, pigs, dogs, and monkeys - to Mauritius in 1505. (It was the Portuguese who first landed in Mauritius, a few years after discovering our little previously uninhabited island.) Mauritius was the home of the fabled, and sadly flightless, dodo bird. The dodo had evolved to fill a niche and naturally became complacent on its peaceful island, too relaxed in a world without predators to handle the first signs of globalisation. The flightless birds were completely unprepared for the new mammals … and as a result, they didn’t last long. Interestingly, the story of the dodo is not yet over: although the bird became extinct centuries ago, a certain species of tree that depended on the dodo for its own existence is only now following its path to extinction.

In market terms, meanwhile, there is the demise of independent local shops since the 1970s - made obsolete by supermarkets, shopping malls, and big box stores. The incursion of these consumer flytraps destabilized the harmony of communities and destroyed the fragile ecosystems of the high street and city centre - ecosystems that local governments have for years now been trying to regenerate, with varying degrees of success.

Of course, there are legitimate reasons why disruption occurs. Megastores like Whole Foods and Costco are nice to have nearby (as we at Crap Futures know very well, living on a remote island without their convenience). Food is usually cheaper and everything is in one place. Likewise Uber, which provides a better, neater, cleaner, cheaper, more efficient service than the established taxi companies in many places. The old taxi companies, like the flightless birds, became complacent in their gentle habitat; the Uber dogs came along and ate them up. But it won’t end there. As Uber’s Travis Kalanick said in a recent speech: ‘We don’t want to be like the taxi guys who came before us – we embrace the future.’ Uber drivers could well be replaced by the autonomous car in the not-too-distant future - a contingency Uber is aware of and hopes to see happen under its own control.

As the complexity of human ecosystems increases, the potential disruptors are becoming more subtle.

Perhaps the best example is the mobile phone. It started as just a portable phone, then a particularly small portable phone (what Germans sensibly named a ‘handy’). At this stage it still had relatively limited potential to disrupt. But then ‘smart’ features and supporting networks were gradually added, until suddenly the mobile phone had the ability to stir up and irreparably alter huge swathes of the urban ecosystem with app-based service companies such as Uber. In the past, interactions between user and product were temporary and limited - telephone cables fixed the context, isolating and containing the effect. The ubiquity and mobility of products today means that the effects of interaction create a complexity that cannot be readily understood - implications are far harder to imagine and more far-reaching. This only means that it is increasingly important to find ways of imagining these knock-on effects before they happen.

John Steinbeck paints a beautiful image of ecological complexity in The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951), an account of the six-week specimen-hunting trip Steinbeck took in the Gulf of California with the marine biologist Ed Ricketts:
One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it … all things are one thing and one thing is all things – plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.

Steinbeck’s description of life in the tide pool poetically captures the complexity of scales, timeframes, and interactions that operate in a natural ecosystem - a complexity that is echoed in technological and cultural systems.

Some important questions to ask are:

How will a product be used, and by whom?

How will it interact with other (especially networked) products in the environment?

What happens when the product is moved to another habitat, possibly one it was not intended for, or to which it is not ideally suited?"
crapfutures  charleselton  1927  1998  neilpostman  ecosystems  systemsthinking  technology  future  complecity  production  environment  bighere  longnow  johnsteinbeck  nature  huamsn  anthropocene  globalization  2015  change  mauritius  dodo  disruption  local  power 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 2: legacies of the past
"We are locked into paths determined by decisions or choices made in previous eras, when the world was a much different place. For various reasons these legacies stubbornly persist through time, constraining future possibilities and blinkering us from alternative ways of thinking.

Here, sketched as usual on a napkin over coffee and toast, are some thoughts on legacies of the past that exercise power over our future.

Infrastructure. Take energy, for example. Tesla’s invention of alternating current became the dominant system - rather than Edison’s direct current - essentially because it allowed electricity generated at power stations to be capable of travelling large distances. Tesla’s system has, for the most part, been adopted across the world - an enormous network of stations, cables, pylons, and transformers, with electrical power arriving in our homes through sockets in the wall. This pervasive system dictates or influences almost everything energy related, and in highly complex ways: from the development of new energy generation methods (and figuring out how to feed that energy into the grid) to the design of any electrical product.

Another example is transportation. As Crap Futures has discovered, it is hard to get around this volcanic and vertiginous island without a car. There are no trains, it is too hilly to ride a bike, buses are slow and infrequent, and meanwhile over the past few decades the regional government - one particular government with a 37-year reign - poured millions into building a complex network of roads and tunnels. People used to get to other parts of the island by boat; now (and for the foreseeable future) it is by private car. This is an example of recent infrastructure that a) perpetuated and was dictated by dominant ideas of how transportation infrastructure should be done, and b) will further constrain possibilities for the island into the future.

Laws and insurance. There is a problematic time-slip between the existence of laws and insurance and the real-life behaviour of humans. Laws and insurance are for the most part reactive: insurance policies, for example, are based on amassed data that informs the broker of risk levels, and this system therefore needs history to work. So when you try to insert a new product or concept - a self-driving car or delivery drone - into everyday life, the insurance system pushes back. Insurance companies don’t want to gamble on an unknown future; they want to look at the future through historical data, which is by nature a conservative lens.

Laws, insurance, and historical infrastructure often work together to curb radical change. This partly explains why many of the now technologically realisable dreams of the past, from jetpacks to flying cars, are unlikely to become an everyday reality in that imagined form - more likely they will adapt and conform to existing systems and rules.
"No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time." — Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays (1910)

It is true that laws sometimes outstay their welcome or impede progress. The slow pace at which laws change becomes more and more apparent as the pace of innovation increases. But there are positive as well as negative constraints, and laws often constrain us for good (which of course is their supposed function). At best, they check our impulses, give us a cooling off period, prevent us from tearing everything down at a whim.

So the law can be a force for good. But then of course - good, bad, or ineffectual - there are always those who find ways to circumvent the law. Jonathan Swift wrote: ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’ With their shock-and-awe tactics, companies like Uber manage to overcome traditional legal barriers by moving faster than local laws or simply being big enough to shrug off serious legal challenges.

Technology is evolutionary. (See Heilbroner’s quote in the future nudge post.) Comparisons between natural and technological evolution have been a regular phenomenon since as far back Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859). Darwin’s revolutionary work inspired philosophers, writers, and anthropologists - Marx and Engels, Samuel Butler, Augustus Pitt-Rivers - to suggest that technological artefacts evolve in a manner similar to natural organisms. This essentially means that technological development is unidirectional, and that radical new possibilities do not happen.

Viewing technology in evolutionary terms would appear to constrain us to only the possibilities that we could reasonably ‘evolve’ into. But this does not have to be the case: natural evolution works by random mutation and natural selection with no ‘plan’ as such, whereas technological innovation and product design are firmly teleologic (literally ‘end-directed’). In other words, the evolutionary model of technological change ignores basic human agency. While natural organisms can’t dip into the historical gene pool to bring back previous mutations, however useful they might be, innovators and designers are not locked into an irreversible evolutionary march and can look backward whenever they choose. So why don’t they? It is a case - circling back to constraint no. 1 - of thinking under the influence of progress dogma."
2015  crapfutures  constraints  darwin  evolution  innovation  future  progress  progressdogma  transportation  infrastructure  law  legal  time  pace  engels  friedrichengels  technology  californianideology  emmagoldman  anarchism  insurance  policy  electricity  nikolatesla  thomasedison  systems  systemsthinking  jonathanswift  samuelbutler  karlmarx  longnow  bighere  augustuspitt-rivers 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 1: progress dogma
"Despite the name, Crap Futures is not all gloom and doom. We may view notions of progress with a sceptical eye, but we still subscribe - heartily, even - to the pursuit of a better world, however small our contribution might be.

In that spirit of improvement - and to introduce the first in our new series on constraints - let us turn for a moment to Ray Bradbury, the presiding Crap Futures muse. In his short story ‘A Sound of Thunder’ (1952), the protagonist, Eckels, travels back to the Late Cretaceous period to track and kill a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The slogan of the company that organises these tours, Time Safari, Inc., is straightforward: ‘Safaris to any year of the past … we take you there, you shoot it.’ Time Safari’s main job, aside from organising tours, is making sure each hunter leaves no footprint, literally or figuratively, in or on the past (or future - whatever, it’s confusing).

The spark in Bradbury’s cautionary tale is Time Safari’s meticulous treatment of the prehistoric ecosystem. With the vast timeframes involved, minute changes to a particular point in the past - increasing exponentially through time - can lead to dramatic differences in everything proceeding from that point. To avoid contaminating the past and altering the future, an ‘anti-gravity metal’ path hovers above the prehistoric jungle, from which hunters are instructed never to stray in even the slightest. The possible impact of any deviation from the path is conveyed in dramatic terms by the tour guide: ‘Step on a mouse and you crush the Pyramids. Step on a mouse and you leave your print, like a Grand Canyon, across Eternity.’ The hunters even wear special ‘oxygen helmets’ to avoid introducing ‘bacteria into the ancient atmosphere’.

Naturally enough, however, Eckels panics at the sight of the Tyrannosaurus and accidentally steps off the path. This leads to a typically Bradburyesque climax - which we won’t spoil here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The key message of Constraint No. 1 is that unlike Time Safari, most of those with a hand in ‘how the future happens’ have no motivation to think about long term consequences of their actions. So blinded are they, in fact, by the bright lights of progress and its successor innovation that any potentially negative impact is ignored. This positivistic message about technology is endemic, and is only being exacerbated by the ‘thumbs up’ and ‘like’ culture of the social network. Unfortunately, as we know, life is complicated and unforeseen negative outcomes happen.

Progress dogma keeps us on the current technological trajectory - it is belief as a motivational force of change. It gives this trajectory huge momentum, meaning that is is virtually impossible to change course. If you’ll pardon the bleak image, it’s a bit like the Titanic sailing directly into potentially fatal waters without a care in the world.

Once we remove the constraints of positive thinking, it becomes possible to more realistically apprehend the future in (some of) its complexity, helping us to figure out what to avoid as well as where to aim. So, how can we rethink progress to identify possible implications? How can we disconnect from the utopian mantra and twentieth-century mindset of positivist corporate culture?'
crapfutures  raybradbury  design  titanic  dinosaurs  sciencefiction  scifi  innovation  constraints  progress  technology  systemsthinking  time  longnow  bighere  skepticism  timesafari  implications  consequences  caution  positivism  future  duediligence  diligence  change  ecosystems  californianideology  2015 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sweden's Minister of the Future Explains How to Make Politicians Think Long-Term | Motherboard
"Kristina Persson’s job is rather unique. Just over a year ago, Stefan Löfven, Sweden's current social democratic prime minister, decided the 70-year-old from Österstund would be the perfect figure to lead the country's new ministry of future issues, strategy and cooperation.

The idea behind the creation of such a ministry was a simple one: for Sweden to remain competitive tomorrow, it might, unfortunately, have to take unpopular steps today—and since politics and politicians, given elections and interests, tend to focus on the short-term, a watchdog for the long-term was needed.

It's easier said than done, as politics show us every day. Can you think of a politician willing to risk re-election for a better future they cannot benefit from? Most probably wouldn't. (Just look at American politicians' responses—or lack thereof—to climate change.) To understand a little more about how the new ministry works, how to plan the future, and why the Swedes always seems to be two steps in front of everybody else, I spoke with Persson.

Motherboard: Let’s start with the basics. What does long-term mean for you and your ministry?

Kristina Persson: Well, it really depends on the issue we are taking into consideration. It can be 5, 10 or even 50 years. Climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed with policies that looks at a 50 years or longer time spa\n, while the expansion of international cooperation is something we are working on with much shorter-term objectives.

Q: Can you tell us what are the areas you are focusing on?

A: The ministry is organized in three strategic groups. The first is concerned with the future of work, the second with the green transition and competitiveness, while the third one is what we call "global cooperation." Each strategic group brings together people with different backgrounds. Some come from the business community, others from civil society, trade unions, and academia. This variety is of the uttermost importance as the questions we are trying to address are complex, and finding solutions needs the cooperation of all of society’s stakeholders. No one [can be] excluded.

Q: Can you give us an example of your work?

A: Let’s take into consideration the "future of work" macro-area. There is no point trying to resist technological change and the expected automation of a great number of jobs in the coming years. Such an attitude would be shortsighted.

So the real question is not how we can try to delay the process. On the contrary, given the coming technological changes, how can we best prepare? And again, how can we guarantee that Sweden’s unemployment rate remains low and the level of social welfare the same as today? You see, these are not easy questions and if we want to find answers, we better start working now.

Q: Your ministry is a kind of odd one. You work across ministries rather than on your own agenda?

A: Yes, by its very nature the ministry of future issues overlaps with responsibilities of other ministries. For example, we work on issues that are the competence of the ministry of employment, the ministry of finance, as well as the foreign ministry. This makes our mission an extremely interesting one I believe. I think the best way to describe us is like a sort of internal government think tank whose role is to constantly remind others to include the long-term in the decision making process.

Q: That sounds quite complex, how is it to work with others?

A: It’s not always easy given the different perspectives of the different institutions involved. Yet ministries understand the importance of what we are doing and have always been quite cooperative.

We live in a world that is transforming at an unprecedented speed, a world that is constantly challenging and disrupting the old ways we are used to do things. Given the context, I believe that if politics wants to remain relevant and be useful to citizens, it needs to change its approach. It needs to experiment with new ways and new solutions. This is what we are doing at the ministry and it's quite ground breaking. A lot of colleagues from other countries have expressed interest in my work and I hope a similar institution will soon be developed in other parts of the world.

Q: I have a bit of a provocative question: Is there something undemocratic underlining your Ministry? Is it not as if you were saying that people only look at the short-term, and are unable to think long-term, so let’s create an unelected body to deal with that.

A: I can understand your point, but I disagree. If you think about it, most ministries have a top-down approach. By this I mean they decide on a specific policy and then, given they have a budget and political leverage, they have the power to implement it. This is a vertical approach, the opposite of the horizontal one we promote here at the ministry.

Rather than going top-down, we promote inter-ministerial collaboration and force decision makers to confront the long-term issues despite the fact this is harder to do sometimes. The product of our efforts are suggestions, never impositions, and I think this is very democratic. Also, whatever policy we might suggest has to be embraced other ministries in order to become a reality since we don’t have a budget and the political capital to push it through parliament.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you think that needs to be addressed other than climate change?

A: The demographic problem. Sweden, as well as the rest of Europe, has to cope with an increasingly ageing population. This raises questions about the present pension schemes and their sustainability. The issue is simple: who is going to pay for the pension benefits if in most European countries pensions will represent a higher percentage of GDP and fewer people will be part of the active labour force. We need to start thinking and acting now.

Q: When you are working, does anyone say something like "Oh my god, it's Kristina nagging about the long-term again"?

A: [Laughs] No, it has not happened yet."
kristinapersson  sweden  politics  policy  longterm  longnow  future  goodancestors  democracy  climatechange  aging  sustainability 
november 2015 by robertogreco
On the Political Dimensions of Solarpunk — Medium
[via: http://solarpunks.tumblr.com/post/131978924858/dont-ask-permission-from-a-state-beholden-to]

"Don’t ask permission from a state beholden to oligarchs, and definitely don’t expect those oligarchs to do any of this for you. Guerilla gardening is the model, but look further. Guerilla solar panel installation. Guerilla water treatment facility restoration. Guerilla magnificent temple to the human spirit construction. Guerilla carbon sequestration megastructure creation.

Figure out what a community needs to be prosperous, peaceful and sustainable in as long a term as you can wrap your head around, and start building whatever piece is most in reach before the absent state notices. Doing so just might create pockets of more effective, horizontal politics. As the state wanes, these pockets can grow in size and influence, creating a better world even if some government claims the authority of law and holds a monopoly on violence.

Now, political choices got us into this mess, and political choices could get us out. I for one argue for a comprehensive set of reforms that were inspired by the discussions held around the world during Occupy: a global debt jubilee to free both countries and individuals from debts that impoverish and enslave them; a tax on extreme wealth to control inequality and rein in the power of oligarchs; a guaranteed basic income to provide for the poor, the infirm and those more useful as caregivers, artists and thinkers than employees of businesses; a dramatic reduction in the workweek to slow down unsustainable levels of economic expansion and to eliminate the countless “bullshit jobs” that serve no function but to bore those who hold them; the regulation or even abolition of usury (once considered as great a sin as slavery), so that investments in sustainable infrastructure that will pay off in cathedral time are not hampered by interest payments that will eventually exceed principal."



"As I argued in my discussion of cities, solarpunk should be careful not to idealize either the gothic high tech or the favela chic. No matter how many High Line-style parks or vertical farms they build, Manhattan will be useless if it is only filled with the luxury condos of absentee financiers. And favelas may be full of jugaad-innovation and dense with diverse entrepreneurialism, but they feature a fatal flaw: no fire codes. Slums are fascinating from a design perspective right up until they burn down or wash away. In a world of more extreme weather, disasters will strike down favelas before their recycling-centric, low-carbon lifestyles can save the climate.

Instead, I like the idea of focusing on large-scale infrastructure projects that will provide value for communities into the long term. A seed bank; a hyper-dense vertical permaculture farm engineered for carbon fixing; a massive, low-maintenance desalination system; a space elevator. These projects could themselves be the organizing principle around which unique solarpunk communities are organized."



"I’ve seen many people describe solarpunk as optimistic. My last suggestion is this: don’t be optimistic, be hopeful. As Vaclav Havel explained: “Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Havel, an artist turned activist turned statesman who led his nation out of a time of crisis, in many ways embodies the transformational power of ideas and aesthetics — and thus the potential of a movement like solarpunk to do real good in the world.

This essay has been long, and it has discussed many troubling situations and possibilities. I wrote these things because I think it is important for any cohesive body of political thought to contrast what it wants with what it opposes: for transparency and privacy, against surveillance and deception; for conservation and abundance, against hoarding and exploitation; for neighborhoods and collaboratives, against gangs and police.

I also wrote this because I believe the enormity of our problems doesn’t have to paralyze us. Quite the opposite: seeing the world as it is is vital if you are going to figure out how it could be. Now is the moment to be galvanized, to know that we are on to something, and to make acting on these ideas a real part of our lives."
solarpunk  2015  andrewdanahudson  politics  favelachic  gothichightech  recycling  diy  optimism  hopefulness  scale  activism  jugaad  infrastructure  organization  horizontality  sustainability  solar  water  climatechange  gardening  hope  refugees  longnow  longnowfoundation  williamgibson  madmax  paolobacigalupi  bladerunner  overconsumption  overpopulation  thecomingrevolution  cities  urban  urbanism  brucesterling  drought  blackswans 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Norway the Slow Way - NYTimes.com
"I eventually called Rune Moklebest, a producer at NRK who was in charge of the Slow TV programing. “[Slow TV] feels different than anything you see on TV,” he said. “If you slow the pace down... if you wait past the moment you feel you should cut away, a whole new story emerges. And then it doesn’t take much to become dramatic.” He pointed to a particular 10-minute sequence from “Hurtigruten Minute for Minute” in which the only action is a cow walking across a beach.

“Will the cow keep walking? Will it stop?” he said. “You just don’t know. And this is exciting.”"
internet  sparkfile  videos  longnow  timelapse  encapsulation  slow  slowtv  norway  2014  television  tv  via:sha 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Future Library – Framtidsbiblioteket – Katie Paterson
"Scottish artist Katie Paterson has launched a 100-year artwork - Future Library - Framtidsbiblioteket - for the city of Oslo in Norway. The prizewinning author, poet, essayist and literary critic Margaret Atwood has been named as the first writer to contribute to the project.

A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.

Margaret Atwood comments on being the inaugural writer for Future Library: “I am very honoured, and also happy to be part of this endeavor. This project, at least, believes the human race will still be around in a hundred years! Future Library is bound to attract a lot of attention over the decades, as people follow the progress of the trees, note what takes up residence in and around them, and try to guess what the writers have put into their sealed boxes.”

A ceremony in 2015 will mark the handover of Margaret Atwood’s manuscript.

The manuscripts will be held in trust in a specially designed room in the New Deichmanske Public Library opening in 2018 in Bjørvika, Oslo. Intended to be a space of contemplation, this room - designed by the artist - will be lined with wood from the forest. The authors’ names and titles of their works will be on display, but none of the manuscripts will be available for reading – until their publication in one century’s time. The library room design is in collaboration with Lund Hagem Architects and Atelier Oslo.

Support for this 100-year long artwork has been given by the City of Oslo, who are working with the artist and Future Library Trust to ensure the protection of the forest and manuscripts until 2114.

Guiding the selection of authors is the Future Library Trust, whose trustees include the artist, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prize Ion Trewin, Publishing Director of Hamish Hamilton Simon Prosser, former Director of the Deichmanske Bibliotek Liv Sæteren, Publishing Director of Forlaget Press Håkon Harket, Editor in Chief of Oktober Press, Ingeri Engelstad, Director of Situations Claire Doherty and Anne Beate Hovind, Bjørvika Utvikling's Project Manager for the Slow Space Programme.

Katie Paterson's 100-year-long project is one of four public artworks produced for Slow Space a programme of public artworks for Bjørvika Oslo's former container port, and commissioned by Bjørvika Utvikling. For Anne Beate Hovind, Bjørvika Utvikling’s, Project manager, “Future Library is beyond what we could ever imagine or hope for. The longevity of this artwork will make it resonate with the people of Oslo for the next 100 years and it holds a treasure for future generations to enjoy.”

Conceived by Katie Paterson, Future Library is commissioned and supported by Bjørvika Utvikling, produced by UK-based Situations, and managed by the Future Library Trust. Supported by the City of Oslo, Agency for Cultural Affairs and Agency for Urban Environment.

Katie Paterson has created a limited edition artwork - a certificate that entitles the owner to one complete set of the texts printed on the paper made from the trees after they are fully grown and cut down in 2114. Please contact the artist's galleries in the UK (Ingleby Gallery, Parafin) or the USA (James Cohan Gallery)."

[introductory video: https://vimeo.com/97512418 ]
Margaret Atwood video: https://vimeo.com/104917141 ]
katiepaterson  art  2014  2114  time  future  libraries  oslo  norway  books  margaretatwood  print  forests  optimism  nature  slow  longnow  futurelibrary  longevity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Climate change is the fight of our lives – yet we can hardly bear to look at it | Naomi Klein | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behaviour in order to protect life on Earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of "free trade" deals that tie the hands of policymakers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.

Confronting these various structural barriers to the next economy is the critical work of any serious climate movement. But it's not the only task at hand. We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real – let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.

And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.

This is our climate change mismatch, and it affects not just our species but potentially every other species on the planet as well.

The good news is that, unlike reindeer and songbirds, we humans are blessed with the capacity for advanced reasoning and therefore the ability to adapt more deliberately – to change old patterns of behaviour with remarkable speed. If the ideas that rule our culture are stopping us from saving ourselves, then it is within our power to change those ideas. But before that can happen, we first need to understand the nature of our personal climate mismatch.

Being consumers is all we know

Climate change demands that we consume less, but being consumers is all we know. Climate change is not a problem that can be solved simply by changing what we buy – a hybrid instead of an SUV, some carbon offsets when we get on a plane. At its core, it is a crisis born of overconsumption by the comparatively wealthy, which means the world's most manic consumers are going to have to consume less.

The problem is not "human nature," as we are so often told. We weren't born having to shop this much, and we have, in our recent past, been just as happy (in many cases happier) consuming far less. The problem is the inflated role that consumption has come to play in our particular era.

Late capitalism teaches us to create ourselves through our consumer choices: shopping is how we form our identities, find community and express ourselves. Thus, telling people that they can't shop as much as they want to because the planet's support systems are overburdened can be understood as a kind of attack, akin to telling them that they cannot truly be themselves. This is likely why, of the original "three Rs" – reduce, reuse, recycle – only the third has ever gotten any traction, since it allows us to keep on shopping as long as we put the refuse in the right box. The other two, which require that we consume less, were pretty much dead on arrival.

Climate change is slow, and we are fast. When you are racing through a rural landscape on a bullet train, it looks as if everything you are passing is standing still: people, tractors, cars on country roads. They aren't, of course. They are moving, but at a speed so slow compared with the train that they appear static.

So it is with climate change. Our culture, powered by fossil fuels, is that bullet train, hurtling forward toward the next quarterly report, the next election cycle, the next bit of diversion or piece of personal validation via our smartphones and tablets. Our changing climate is like the landscape out the window: from our racy vantage point it can appear static, but it is moving, its slow progress measured in receding ice sheets, swelling waters and incremental temperature rises. If left unchecked, climate change will most certainly speed up enough to capture our fractured attention – island nations wiped off the map, and city-drowning superstorms, tend to do that. But by then, it may be too late for our actions to make a difference, because the era of tipping points will likely have begun."



"Another part of what makes climate change so very difficult for us to grasp is that ours is a culture of the perpetual present, one that deliberately severs itself from the past that created us as well as the future we are shaping with our actions. Climate change is about how what we did generations in the past will inescapably affect not just the present, but generations in the future. These timeframes are a language that has become foreign to most of us.

This is not about passing individual judgment, nor about berating ourselves for our shallowness or rootlessness. Rather, it is about recognising that we are products of an industrial project, one intimately and historically linked to fossil fuels.

And just as we have changed before, we can change again. After listening to the great farmer-poet Wendell Berry deliver a lecture on how we each have a duty to love our "homeplace" more than any other, I asked him if he had any advice for rootless people like me and my friends, who live in our computers and always seem to be shopping from home. "Stop somewhere," he replied. "And begin the thousand-year-long process of knowing that place."

That's good advice on lots of levels. Because in order to win this fight of our lives, we all need a place to stand."
climate  climatechange  2014  humans  consumerism  capitalism  regulation  timing  mistiming  policy  local  culture  society  slow  time  longnow  naomiklein  shallowness  rootlessness  place  wendellberry  systemsthinking  localism  bighere 
april 2014 by robertogreco
George Dyson: No Time Is There--- The Digital Universe and Why Things Appear To Be Speeding Up - The Long Now
"The digital big bang

When the digital universe began, in 1951 in New Jersey, it was just 5 kilobytes in size. "That's just half a second of MP3 audio now," said Dyson. The place was the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. The builder was engineer Julian Bigelow. The instigator was mathematician John von Neumann. The purpose was to design hydrogen bombs.

Bigelow had helped develop signal processing and feedback (cybernetics) with Norbert Wiener. Von Neumann was applying ideas from Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel, along with his own. They were inventing and/or gates, addresses, shift registers, rapid-access memory, stored programs, a serial architecture—all the basics of the modern computer world, all without thought of patents. While recuperating from brain surgery, Stanislaw Ulam invented the Monte Carlo method of analysis as a shortcut to understanding solitaire. Shortly Von Neumann's wife Klári was employing it to model the behavior of neutrons in a fission explosion. By 1953, Nils Barricelli was modeling life itself in the machine—virtual digital beings competed and evolved freely in their 5-kilobyte world.

In the few years they ran that machine, from 1951 to 1957, they worked on the most difficult problems of their time, five main problems that are on very different time scales—26 orders of magnitude in time—from the lifetime of a neutron in a bomb's chain reaction measured in billionths of a second, to the behavior of shock waves on the scale of seconds, to weather prediction on a scale of days, to biological evolution on the scale of centuries, to the evolution of stars and galaxies over billions of years. And our lives, measured in days and years, is right in the middle of the scale of time. I still haven't figured that out."

Julian Bigelow was frustrated that the serial, address-constrained, clock-driven architecture of computers became standard because it is so inefficient. He thought that templates (recognition devices) would work better than addresses. The machine he had built for von Neumann ran on sequences rather than a clock. In 1999 Bigelow told George Dyson, "Sequence is different from time. No time is there." That's why the digital world keeps accelerating in relation to our analog world, which is based on time, and why from the perspective of the computational world, our world keeps slowing down.

The acceleration is reflected in the self-replication of computers, Dyson noted: "By now five or six trillion transistors per second are being added to the digital universe, and they're all connected." Dyson is a kayak builder, emulating the wood-scarce Arctic natives to work with minimum frame inside a skin craft. But in the tropics, where there is a surplus of wood, natives make dugout canoes, formed by removing wood. "We're now surrounded by so much information," Dyson concluded, "we have to become dugout canoe builders. The buzzword of last year was 'big data.' Here's my definition of the situation: Big data is what happened when the cost of storing information became less than the cost of throwing it away."

--Stewart Brand"

[See also: http://blog.longnow.org/02014/04/04/george-dyson-seminar-flashback-no-time-is-there/ ]
data  longnow  georgedyson  computing  history  stewartbrand  2013  ai  artificialintelligence  time  julianbigelow 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Links 2013 ["Bret Victor: It’s the end of 2013, and here’s what Bret fell in love with this year"]
"What is the difference between scientific and non-scientific thinking? Thinking within a consistent theory versus thinking haphazardly?

I'm crucially interested in the problem of representing theory such that intuitions are fruitful and theoretically sound, and representations suggest analogies that stay true to the theory. That's not diSessa's problem, but I feel that his viewpoint has some powerful clues."



"Hofstadter says that all thinking runs on analogy-making. Sounds good to me! If he's even partially correct, then it seems to me that a medium for powerful thinking needs to be a medium for seeing powerful analogies. And a medium for powerful communication needs to be designed around inducing the dance he's talking about up there."



Kieran Egan: "Thinking about education during this century has almost entirely involved just three ideas—socialization, Plato's academic idea, and Rousseau's developmental idea. We may see why education is so difficult and contentious if we examine these three ideas and the ways they interact in educational thinking today. The combination of these ideas governs what we do in schools, and what we do to children in the name of education.

Our problems, I will further argue, are due to these three ideas each being fatally flawed and being also incompatible with one other."

Bret Victor: "If you're going to design a system for education, it might help to understand the purpose of education in the first place. Egan points out how modern education is implicitly driven by a cargo-culty mish-mash of three lofty but mutually-incompatible goals. Good luck with that!"



"The cultural importance of the printing press doesn't have much to do with the technology -- the ink and metal type -- but rather how print acted as a medium to amplify human thought in particular ways.

Print was directly responsible for the emergence of a literate and educated society, which (for example) made possible the idea of societal self-governance. The US Constitution could only exist in a literate print culture, where (for example) the Federalist papers and Anti-Federalist papers could be debated in the newspapers.

As you read and watch Alan Kay, try not to think about computational technology, but about a society that is fluent in thinking and debating in the dimensions opened up by the computational medium.
Don't think about “coding” (that's ink and metal type, already obsolete), and don't think about “software developers” (medieval scribes only make sense in an illiterate society).

Think about modeling phenomena, modeling situations, simulating models, gaining a common-sense intuition for nonlinear dynamic processes. Then think about a society in which every educated person does these things, in the computational medium, as easily and naturally as we today read and write complex logical arguments in the written medium.

Reading used to be reserved for the clergy, to hand down unquestionable Revealed Truths to the masses. Today, it's just what everyone does. Think about a society in which science is not reserved for the clergy, to hand down unquestionable Revealed Truths to the masses, but is just what everyone does."



[Reading tips from Bret Victor:]

"Reading Tip #1

It’s tempting to judge what you read: "I agree with these statements, and I disagree with those."

However, a great thinker who has spent decades on an unusual line of thought cannot induce their context into your head in a few pages. It’s almost certainly the case that you don’t fully understand their statements.

Instead, you can say: "I have now learned that there exists a worldview in which all of these statements are consistent."

And if it feels worthwhile, you can make a genuine effort to understand that entire worldview. You don't have to adopt it. Just make it available to yourself, so you can make connections to it when it's needed.

Reading Tip #2

Carver Mead describes a physical theory in which atoms exchange energy by resonating with each other. Before the energy transaction can happen, the two atoms must be phase-matched, oscillating in almost perfect synchrony with each other.

I sometimes think about resonant transactions as a metaphor for getting something out of a piece of writing. Before the material can resonate, before energy can be exchanged between the author and reader, the reader must already have available a mode of vibration at the author's frequency. (This doesn't mean that the reader is already thinking the author's thought; it means the reader is capable of thinking it.)

People often describe written communication in terms of transmission (the author explained the concept well, or poorly) and/or absorption (the reader does or doesn't have the background or skill to understand the concept). But I think of it more like a transaction -- the author and the reader must be matched with each other. The author and reader must share a close-enough worldview, viewpoint, vocabulary, set of mental models, sense of aesthetics, and set of goals. For any particular concept in the material, if not enough of these are sufficiently matched, no resonance will occur and no energy will be exchanged.

Perhaps, as a reader, one way to get more out of more material is to collect and cultivate a diverse set of resonators, to increase the probability of a phase-match.

Reading Tip #3

Misunderstandings can arise when an author is thinking in a broader context than the reader. A reader might be thinking tactically: :How can I do a better job today?" while the author is thinking strategically: "How can we make a better tomorrow?"

The misunderstanding becomes especially acute when real progress requires abandoning today's world and starting over.

We are ants crawling on a tree branch. Most ants are happy to be on the branch, and happy to be moving forward.

[image]

But there are a few special ants that, somehow, are able to see a bigger picture. And they can see that this branch is a dead end.

[image]

They can see that if we really want to move forward, we'll have to backtrack a long ways down.

They usually have a hard time explaining this to the ants that can only see the branch they're on. For them, the path ahead appears to go on forever.

[image]"
bretvictor  brunolatour  andreadisessa  douglashofstadter  place  cognition  science  sherryturkle  kieranegan  terrycavanagh  stewartbrand  longnow  julianjaynes  davidhestenes  carvermead  paulsaffo  tednelson  dougengelbert  alankay  reading  toread  2013  gutenberg  printing  print  modeling  simulation  dynamicprocesses  society  progress  thinking  intuition  analogies  education  systemsthinking  howweread  learning  ideas  concepts  context  readiness  simulations 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Planting For the Future — Weird Future — Medium
"New College’s actual method is much more robust.

Cultural continuity is ensured by regular visits keeping the foresters and college administrators in touch. Materials continuity is ensured by having redundant oaks spread over the college lands. No one oak is destined to be the future beam at College Hall. Instead, they have a bunch of oak, available for whatever circumstance might arise, including burning the great hall to the ground, three years in a row.

Part 3: Visingsö in Error
The lesson seems clear. Plant your seeds, plan for continuity, and your foresight will be rewarded. This is because I have pulled a trick, and told you only stories about where long term planning has paid off.

There is another story to tell.

Around the time that New College was repairing its great hall, the Swedish military was confronting a resource problem of its own. Demand for warships meant that there was a need for 150 year old oak trees. Foreseeing a shortage, the Navy began planting on Visingsö island. The trees came of age in the 1980s, when warships were made of steel.

Beware parables."
timmaly  longnow  culture  sustainability  continuity  foresight  stewartbrand  newcollege  visingsö  sweden  uk  history  parables  2013  alexanderrose  dannyhillis 
november 2013 by robertogreco
future shock - bookforum.com / current issue
“Fixing government” for Newsom and Brand means getting rid of its vast bureaucracy. But if the Tea Partiers, steeped in Ayn Rand, want to dismantle government bureaucracy because they hate government, Newsom and Brand want to dismantle it simply because they have the tools to do it. And this is where Newsom’s tract moves beyond mere callow publishing opportunism into a broader, more pernicious rejection of progressive ideas. The purely formal urge to overhaul government along notionally digital lines is a manifestation of what I call “solutionism”—a tendency to justify reforms of social and political institutions by invoking the easy availability of powerful technological fixes rather than by engaging in a genuine analysis of what, if anything, is ailing those institutions and how to fix it.

Solutionists are not interested in investigating the subtle but constitutive roles of supposed vices like bureaucracy, opacity, or inefficiency in enabling liberal subjects to pursue their own life projects. Solutionists simply want to eliminate those vices—and the institutions that produce them—because technology permits them to do so. In his discussion of bureaucracy, for example, Newsom doesn’t even bother with the standard Weberian explanation that bureaucracy is a decidedly modernist institution for minimizing nepotism and introducing some fairness and neutrality to public administration. Instead, he simply views bureaucracy as a consequence of inadequate technology, concluding that better technology will allow us to get rid of it altogether—and why shouldn’t we?

“Our government is clogged with a dense layer of bureaucracy,” he complains. “It’s like a clay layer, a filler that serves only to slow everything down. But technology can get rid of that clay layer by making it possible for people to bypass the usual bureaucratic morass.” In a very limited sense, Newsom is right: Modern technology does allow us to bypass “the usual bureaucratic morass.” But to fail to examine why that morass exists and simply proceed to eliminate it because we have the technology is to fall for a very narrow-minded, regressive, and (paradoxically enough) antimodern kind of solutionism.
evgenymorozov  gavinnewson  scathing  review  book  solutionism  california  technology  government  bureaucracy  democracy  stewartbrand  californianideology  via:migurski  books  teaparty  clayshirky  timoreilly  dontapscott  kevinkelly  estherdyson  longnow 
march 2013 by robertogreco
» Seeds Are the New Books - Blog of the Long Now
"The Basalt Public Library in western Colorado has recently started lending seeds out to members. The members “borrow” the seeds with their library card, grow the plants, and harvest the best fruits’ seeds to give back to the library. The library gets better seeds back, while the members get to enjoy most of the harvest and learn more about the embodied art of gardening in the process.

Saving seeds itself is not a new idea–it is an ancient practice that goes back to the invention of agriculture. But combining a seed bank with the modern library is a novel answer to the threat of digital irrelevance, and one that can help preserve the thousands of endangered heirloom varieties that we have cultivated over civilization’s history.

As books and other media start to make the cloud their permanent home, libraries inevitably face the question of how to stay relevant in the future. Part of the answer will probably always be free access to information resources, but the trend seems to suggest that this will become far less pertinent with the proliferation of ebooks, online classes, book-scanning projects, and general free digitalized information.

It is easy to forget that libraries are some ways, very radical institutions. It’s true, you have to be quiet, but the idea that everyone should have access to as much information as possible is a beautiful and powerful concept. When one considers that seeds and the DNA they contain are one of the original information storage devices, it’s almost hard to understand why libraries haven’t always included seeds."
longnow  seeds  planting  plants  libraries  colorado  basaltpubliclibrary  ariculture  gardening  2013  information  storage  civilization 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Editing the Past | Swell Content
"I’m looking into ways of making my posts living, breathing things. I don’t feel like I have any of the answers yet, so I’m compiling some questions about the effects of editing the past.

Looking at the archive…

**As an evolution of feelings**

What’s the best way to update old blog posts? Does my audience care if I’ve changed the meaning of something from 2011 [http://www.swellcontent.com/2011/05/scratching-the-greatest-itch/ ] or simply removed the harshness of my tone? What about the fact that I often write to get it halfway there (or even 5% there), just to help myself understand my feelings?

What if my feelings turn inside out? What if I want to delete something, because it’s just plain bad?

Do I get to decide what’s important as the author? Why? Or do my readers get to decide with traffic, comments, or attention?

Is frequency important, or is all of this an exhaustive attempt at making order out of chaos? [https://readmill.com/nicoleslaw/reads/the-library-at-night/highlights/0i9t9g ] Maybe I should stop right now.

**As a written record**

What are the ethics of deleting something? Or hiding it? What if I just shove it in a corner or an armpit, only to be found by Google or someone with a link? Why bother keeping it there, if it’s not worth sharing openly?

Is it an archive if I don’t preserve my words as they were originally posted? Or does it break the web to think anything should be static for more than a month or two? Do we breathe here in minutes, months, or milliseconds?

**As a resource**

Is this helpful if it’s not updated? Should I announce every change I make, or put notes within each article? Do I get to summarize my own summaries, or is there a more programmatic way of showing changes, like a differential or commit?

Should I notify anyone of anything? Or is it annoying and uninteresting to know about teeny changes on a personal site? But isn’t everything connected? Even if my opinions are small and unsharpened, isn’t that the point of sharing them and working on them over a lifetime?"

[Recorded here ;]
archives  archiving  nicolejones  2013  addendums  changes  history  longnow  past  future  writing  sharing  web  digital  internet  personalarchives  evolution  recordkeeping  time  memory  persistence  change  nicolefenton 
february 2013 by robertogreco
A whole magazine of this, please « Snarkmarket
"Seriously, imagine this magazine. (And when I say “magazine” I obviously mean “website.”) It would be so different from anything that’s out there today. It wouldn’t be people trying to convince you of things. (This is the usual mode of, say, The New York Review of Books—although props to them for publishing Nagel on Plantinga.) Nor would it be people ironically infiltrating different belief systems. (This is the mode of a lot of narrative journalism today, and it’s super entertaining! You know: “I spent six weeks hanging out with these crazy people and here’s what I saw.”) It would be… brains at work. Call it The Grappler. An engine of empathy. I don’t know. It would probably have a readership of 300 people but maybe that’s okay."

[Alexis Madrigal comment: "All hail that which does not scale! All hail that which does not scale!"]
saulwurman  intimacy  small  scale  externalization  debate  belief  thomasnagel  longnow  alanjacobs  ianbogost  www.www  wwwconference  intellectualexcercises  understanding  writing  ideas  magazines  comments  snarkmarket  2012  thegrappler  perspective  empathy  robinsloan 
september 2012 by robertogreco
SI - Dancing with Systems
"The Dance

1. Get the beat.
2. Listen to the wisdom of the system.
3. Expose your mental models to the open air.
4. Stay humble. Stay a learner.
5. Honor and protect information.
6. Locate responsibility in the system.
7. Make feedback policies for feedback systems.
8. Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
9. Go for the good of the whole.
10. Expand time horizons.
11. Expand thought horizons.
12. Expand the boundary of caring.
13. Celebrate complexity.
14. Hold fast to the goal of goodness."
sustainability  noticing  listening  systemswisdom  responsibility  whatmatters  2001  caring  bighere  longnow  humility  learning  attention  systemsthinking  via:selinjessa  donellameadows  complexity  web  design  systems  deepecology 
september 2012 by robertogreco
After I die (22 Apr., 2012, at Interconnected)
"When I imagine the dead me, I imagine a body with a brain which is thinking really, really slowly. As my body and my brain decompose, these are simply changes in the structure—so decomposition would feel like learning and developing, in some sort of way. And as adjacent neurons break down and affect one-another, or as a worm burrows its way through my dead brain, maybe these would feel like occasional thoughts.

And so, during this time, the pattern which is my consciousness becomes absorbed into the pattern which is the world, & mingles w/ structures already there, new connections are made & others broken, just as thinking already is, & the changing me-pattern I experience as slow thoughts and slow developments of the self, & I become part of a wide, slow, thinking earth.

That's option one, to be buried and to decompose gently.

Option two:

I would like to be cremated, my ashes made into bread, and the bread shared out and eaten by all my friends. I think that would be wonderful."
brain  thinking  longnow  slow  consciousness  cremation  decomposition  2012  mattwebb  death  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Webstock '12: Matt Haughey - Lessons from a 40 year old on Vimeo
"Matt will cover a bunch of lessons he’s learned in the past decade of life as he embarks on turning 40. They eschew much of the Techcrunch/ReadWriteWeb/Mashable world by focusing on taking a longer term view of your work and focusing on life/work balance and having a happy life as well as a fulfilling career."

["Semi-transcript": http://a.wholelottanothing.org/2012/03/my-webstock-talk.html
community  portability  backup  platformagnostic  urls  permanence  simple  attention  time  relationships  cv  metafilter  longterm  37signals  small  slow  bootstrap  lifestylebusiness  aging  wisdom  lifelessons  startups  webstock12  webstock  longnow  meaning  purpose  work  happiness  fulfillment  life  matthaughey  work-lifebalance  from delicious
march 2012 by robertogreco
» Almost everything is getting better - Long Views: The Long Now Blog
"Last week The Millennium Project released its 02011 State Of The Future report, looking at trends for the past twenty years and projecting ahead for the next decade. (Not the 10,000 year future, but still of interest.) You can read an executive summary of the report here.

While the report finds many things to worry about – global warming, terrorism, corruption – overall the trends are surprisingly hopeful, as shown in their chart called “Where we are winning”:"

[Appreciate the optimism, but these are select measures and probably global too. I wonder what US figures would look like. In the US, there are several that are getting much worse. UPDATE: Here's a start: http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/71/generation-fcked.html ]
optimism  economics  future  politics  policy  world  2011  longnow  millenniumproject  stateofthefuture 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Flourishes, Craftsmanship, Dates, History, and Flickr - Laughing Meme
"I fret about the warm bath of now-ness we seem to be currently living in; real time a synonym for ephemerality and disposability."

"…giving you the ability to label your photo as being taken solidly 800+ years before anything most of us would describe as the invention of photography…a little silly. But I do love this photo of the Blue grotto…taken in 1890…

Fundamentally this split btwn system activity time, & human editable creation date models a world where the people who use your software do something other then use your software. You have to decide how you feel about admitting that possibility…

…if you visited that Blue Grotto photo you’ll notice date is listed as “This photo was taken some time in 1890.” That’s date granularity. Flickr taken dates come in 4 levels of granularity, exact, year-month, year, & circa.

…Circa is a flourish…sort of feature you only get when you care about craftsmanship…

Computers demand exactitudes by default, but it’s a laziness of which we are collectively guiltily that we’ve traded a few programmer & compute cycles for a rich & nuanced societal understanding of time."
flickr  design  dates  detail  circa  perception  computing  human  kellanelliot-mccrea  granularity  squishiness  fuzziness  nuance  meaning  meaningmaking  2011  florishes  details  disposability  bighere  longnow  craft  craftsmanship  ephemerality  ephemeral  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
(hm) Electric Literacy Playground
[Wayback link: https://web.archive.org/web/20101028060343/http://www.headmine.net/electric-literacy-playground ]

"In the 20th century, youth culture gave birth to a new sensory training ground that helped us explore and adapt to the emerging electronic environment."

""To think of such a culture as 'preliterate' is already to distort it. It is like thinking of a horse as an automobile without wheels." - Walter Ong"

"Since we are, like the ancient Athenians, living through the beginning of a major technological revolution that is putting pressures on every aspect of our cultural fabric, de Kerckhove's study of the Greek theater should make us pause and ask ...

"What would a playground for electric literacy look like?" and "Have we already created such an environment?""

"What would a sensory training ground for electric literacy feel like?"

"The distinctions between art and utility are already beginning to blur in our digital world."
education  technology  culture  history  media  art  headmine  utility  glvo  cv  literacy  senses  sensory  training  unschooling  deschooling  digital  marshallmcluhan  ancientgreece  play  digitalliteracy  society  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  walterong  tcsnmy  lcproject  shiftctrlesc  secondaryorality  from delicious
june 2011 by robertogreco
Forever / from a working library
"perhaps when it comes to our collective cultural memory, a single life is long enough: long enough, that is, for the next generation to pick up the torch.

This, I believe, is why a book feels permanent, even though enough libraries have burned over the centuries that we ought to know better. A well-made book, stored upright, in a dry, dark place, will survive a hundred years—that is, a lifetime. More if it is especially well printed, and only carefully handled, but a hundred years is a safe bet. Plenty of time to read it as a child, hold onto it through adolescence and adulthood, and then give it to your first great-grandchild. That’s as much forever as any of us can reasonably conceive. … no civilization has ever saved everything; acknowledging that fact does not obviate the need to try and save as much as we can"
culture  books  preservation  archiving  technology  memory  culturalmemory  permanence  eternity  perspective  scale  human  libraries  posterity  civilization  generations  limitations  longnow  longhere  archives  via:preoccupations  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
A real educational revolution: System thinking + long-term thinking = universal basic education | FLOSSE Posse
"we need for sure…:

Public libraries
Universal high quality basic ed
Access to mobile phones & network comps
Free & reliable online reference & other ed content
Peer-to-peer online learning & teaching communities
Community colleges & open unis online & on campus
Quality higher ed online & on campus
Now if we look at proposed solutions they are mainly improvements to things w/ middle importance, such as access to network comps or access to ed content. They do not solve problem. They are part of solution, but only small part.

The universal quality basic ed is key…you can do fine w/out coms or hand-helds. What you need is paper, pens, reading materials & good teacher. To have a good teachers you need (1) quality basic ed, (2) quality higher ed & (3) ~25 years. People do not grow faster.

real problem: For most decision-maker 25 years is something like 5X longer than term in office & 100X longer than memory. Free advice for people working in the field: join The Long Now."
education  change  gamechanging  longnow  universalbasiceducation  learning  schools  tcsnmy  olpc  libraries  information  content  teaching  computing  wikipedia  technology  lcproject  references  teemuleinonen  highered  from delicious
september 2010 by robertogreco
» Jesse Schell’s Recommended Reading - Long Views: The Long Now Blog
"During his Seminar, Jesse Schell recommended a number of books and other resources that have informed his conception of the Gamepocalypse. Here’s a list of the books for the curious:

Authenticity, by James H. Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II; Finite and Infinite Games, by James P. Carse; The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil; The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton M. Christensen; The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley; Good to Great, by Jim Collins; Punished by Rewards, by Alfie Kohn"
2010  books  games  gaming  longnow  jesseschell  alfiekohn  raykurzweil  rewards  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The generative web event « Snarkmarket [Important post stitching together two other important posts on the future of media]
"One new kind of media that’s start­ing to func­tion as a work is a blog. Not, in most cases, a blog post—but a blog. If NYTimes decides, “hey, we’re going to start & host a blog all about par­ent­ing” that blog becomes a Work. It pro­duces ongo­ing cul­tural focus, & not just because it’s in NYT. Some posts get more atten­tion than oth­ers, espe­cially if they cross over into long-form venue, but writ­ing that blog, stick­ing with it, being its author, cre­ates focus, read­er­ship & long accu­mu­la­tion of con­tent. & I’m sure Lisa Belkin (already wrote a book about par­ent­ing) will get another book out of it.

But the other new, emer­gent work, which might be more rad­i­cal, is the gen­er­a­tive web event. 48HrMag, One Week | One Tool, Robin’s novel­las & maybe even New Lib­eral Arts (espe­cially if we put together another edi­tion) are all ances­tral species of this new thing—chil­dren of TED, Phoot Camp, Long Now, Iron Chef, & par­ents of whatever’s going to come next."
events  ted  gamechanging  tcsnmy  lcproject  future  generative  generativeevents  newliberalarts  longnow  48hrmag  longshot  robinsloan  timcarmody  snarkmarket  collaboration  collaborative  classideas  media  blogs  blogging  longform  phootcamp  ironchef  oneweekonetool  writing  2010  education  weliveinamazingtimes  generativewebevents  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Answer Sheet - Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)
"*Learning, real learning—trying to make more sense of what’s happening—is as natural & satisfying as breathing. If your big reform idea requires laws, mandates, penalties, bribes, or other kinds of external pressure to make it work, it won’t. You can lead the horse to water, & you can force it to look like it’s drinking, but you can’t make it drink."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-most-comprehensive-awesome-189-words-ever-written-about-school/ ]
curriculum  reform  criticalthinking  policy  education  learning  tcsnmy  progressive  standards  standardizedtesting  testing  rttt  nclb  motivation  elibroad  billgates  malcolmgladwell  wealth  influence  money  collaboration  understanding  humans  lcproject  deschooling  unschooling  teaching  commoncore  accountability  autonomy  righthererightnow  hereandnow  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  toshare  topost  interdisciplinary  marionbrady 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Welcome to the Possibilium
"Possibilianism is a philosophy which rejects both the idiosyncratic claims of traditional theism and the positions of certainty in atheism in favor of a middle, exploratory ground. The term was first defined by neuroscientist David Eagleman in relation to his book of fiction Sum. Asked whether he was an atheist or a religious person on a National Public Radio interview in February, 2009, he replied "I call myself a Possibilian: I'm open to...ideas that we don't have any way of testing right now."...

[see also: http://www.vimeo.com/12543623 ]
possibilianism  atheism  davideagleman  faith  learning  philosophy  religion  science  longnow  life  uncertainty  tcsnmy 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Op-Ed Contributor - America on Deadline - NYTimes.com
"Some years ago, psychologists posed a deceptively simple question: if I were to offer you $100 right now, or $110 a week from now, which would you choose? Most subjects chose to take $100 right then. It didn’t seem worthwhile to wait an entire week for only $10 more.

[via: http://blog.longnow.org/2009/12/04/discounting-the-future/ ]
psychology  davideagleman  procrastination  afghanistan  uncertainty  certainty  future  politics  policy  barackobama  instantgratification  delayedgratification  crisis  2009  subprime  shortterm  longterm  longnow 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Sander van der Leeuw: The Archaeology of Innovation - The Long Now
"As we become ever more adept at solving short-term problems, we shift the risk to long-term problems---such as climate change---which do not match the skills we have developed and know how to reward. We are headed into a trap of our own devising. To get out of it, if we can, will require a "battle with ourselves" to wholly redefine our social structures and institutions to master the long term."
stewartbrand  technology  history  intelligence  archaeology  longnow  innovation  evolution  longterm  problemsolving 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Slow Home
"Slow Home was launched in fall 2006 from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Our goal is simple: to help people learn about the principles of good residential design and how to apply them in a variety of real world situations. We provide the basic knowledge and skills necessary for people to become more informed residential consumers and empower them to make smarter choices about where and how they live."
blogs  homes  design  architecture  slow  cities  green  housing  urbanism  longnow  sustainability  realestate  environment  lifestyle 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Long Now: Views: Essays: The Big Here and the Long Now [Brian Eno]
"Artworks in general are increasingly regarded as seeds — seeds for processes that need a viewer's (or a whole culture's) active mind in which to develop. Increasingly working with time, culture-makers see themselves as people who start things, not finish them.

And what is possible in art becomes thinkable in life. We become our news selves first in simulacrum, through style and fashion and art, our deliberate immersions in virtual worlds. Through them we sense what it would be like to be another kind of person with other kinds of values. We rehearse new feelings and sensitivities. We imagine other ways of thinking about our world and its future. …

As artists and culture-makers begin making time, change and continuity their subject-matter, they will legitimise and make emotionally attractive a new and important conversation."

[via: http://www.preoccupations.org/2009/09/if-we-want-to-contribute-to-some-sort-of-tenable-future.html ]
society  art  future  brianeno  longnow  culture  history  sustainability  time  motivation  now  inspiration  environment  glvo  starting  doing  trends  seeding  ideas  gamechanging  progress  change  culturemakers  culturemaking  culturecreation  culturalproduction 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » Blog Archive » A mental health break
"Roy McDonald writes: “For the long news I’d suggest almost anything on mental health. My thesis is that we are in the stone age in understanding mental illness, minor and major and that it’s something we’re capable of making great progress on in the next century. If we improve mental health globally seems like we could reduce a lot of violence, social tension and international conflict as well as improve economic productivity.”
health  longnow  mentalhealth  mentalillness  medicine  future  demographics  society 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Domains - Stewart Brand - On the Waterfront - Interview - NYTimes.com
"Moving house: The Mirene is a working, 64-foot-long tugboat built in 1912. We take the boat out cruising from time to time. We turned the wheelhouse and skipper’s cabin into our bedroom, with two rooms and a bath below.
stewartbrand  homes  houseboats  longnow  culture  history  cabins 
april 2009 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » We are programmed to be interrupted.
"An ‘attention-deficient’ society obsessed with staying on top of things is a society that is stuck in the orientation phase of attention, makes snap judgments and is subject to the whims of cognitive shortcuts."

[Contrast with response from Mind Hacks: http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/02/the_myth_of_the_conc.html ]
attention  continuouspartialattention  multitasking  singletasking  productivity  longnow  science  psychology  internet  socialmedia  culture  society  brain  change  adaptation  maggiejackson  technology  distraction  monotasking 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Code: Flickr Developer Blog » Things I’m Standing Next To
"Nearby starts with a geotagged photo and then queries for other geotagged photos within a one kilometer radius. You can order the results by time and distance and interestingness but the important part is that they are photos, well, nearby to the photo you are looking at. Nearby is a deliberately fuzzy concept. Nearby in St. Peter’s Square in Rome might mean the person directly in front of you. Nearby in the streets of a small town might be the beautiful garden behind the fence and around the corner. Nearby encourages people to poke around and discover their surroundings, as though they were on foot and everything was just a short walk away."
flickr  location  longnow  geocoding  geotagging  dopplr  place  design  history  photography  narrative  bighere  maps  mapping  api  nearby  social  geo  geohash 
february 2009 by robertogreco
Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles - O'Reilly Radar
"I spent a lot of last year urging people to work on stuff that matters. This led to many questions about what that "stuff" might be. I've been a bit reluctant to answer those questions, because the list is different for everyone. I thought I'd do better to start the new year with some ideas about how to think about this for yourself. ... 1. Work on something that matters to you more than money.2. Create more value than you capture. 3. Take the long view."

[See also video interview: http://radar.oreilly.com/2009/01/work-on-stuff-that-matters-interview-tim-oreilly.html ]
timoreilly  business  economics  recessions  importance  community  work  life  productivity  startups  entrepreneurship  valueadded  sustainability  brianeno  longhere  longnow  bighere  bignow  bubbles  innovation  philosophy  principles  advice 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Bionic Noticing on Irving Street « Magical Nihilism
"There’s been a flurry of writing on the skill, innate or learned of noticing. I like to think I have a little bit of the innate, but I’ve been *ahem* noticing that my increasingly mobile personal-informatics tool-cloud seems to be training me to notice more."
noticing  observation  culture  architecture  mapping  geotagging  mattjones  meaning  location  arg  ubicomp  flickr  cities  maps  urban  mobile  games  future  adamgreenfield  longnow  bighere  bignow  longhere  computers  place  janejacobs  interested  driftdeck  interestedness 
november 2008 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » Blog Archive » Stewart Brand - “Cities And Time”
"As the author of HOW BUILDINGS LEARN I kept getting asked to give talks on “How Cities Learn.” With a little research I found that cities do indeed “learn” (adapt) impressively, but what cities mainly do is teach. They teach civilization...At present there’s little awareness among environmentalists that growing cities are where the action and opportunities are, and there’s little scientific data being collected. I think a large-scale, long-term environmental strategy for urbanization is needed, two-pronged. One, take advantage of the emptying countryside (where the trees and other natural systems are growing back fast) and preserve, protect, and restore those landscape in a way that will retain their health when people eventually move back. Two, bear down on helping the growing cities to become more humane to live in and better related to the natural systems around them. Don’t fight the squatters. Join them."
stewartbrand  cities  civilization  urban  urbanism  demographics  longnow  trends  history  culture  sustainability  environment  environmentalism  gamechanging  via:preoccupations 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- Long Now - Very Long-Term Backup
"As durable as paper is, its inherent limitations in storing digital data are clear. Pity the person who would need to find something if the only backup of the web was a paper printout that filled several airline hangers. What we need are media that have the durability of paper and the accessibility of a floppy disk (or better!).

This problem of long-term digital storage seemed a crucial hurdle for any civilization trying to act generationaly. How could a society think in terms of centuries unless there was a reliable way to transmit and store its knowledge over centuries?"
kevinkelly  longnow  storage  data 
august 2008 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » Blog Archive » Bruce Sterling’s Sharp Warning, 8 years later
"Eight years ago Long Now had a conference...how to build a 10,000 year library....Bruce Sterling delivered....rant...hilarious and biting. It holds up amazingly well" "main benefit I derive from reading Ruskin is the spectacle of someone very bright, very dedicated, very perceptive, very historically aware, a prophet really, a futurist seer == who is mired armpit deep in his own parochiality. And so are we...I want to describe how we might succeed where John Ruskin failed"
brucesterling  longnow  history  future  culture  2000  productivity  thinking  posterity  johnruskin 
august 2008 by robertogreco
The Long Now Blog » Blog Archive » Will Wright and Brian Eno - “Playing with Time” - ""Building models, said Wright, is what we do in computer games, and it’s what we do in life...
"...First it’s models of how the world works, then it’s models of how other humans work....[with games] You get to explore other paths to take in the same situation. Eno: “That’s what we do with everything I call culture"
willwright  brianeno  games  play  life  ambient  generative  spore  longnow  stewartbrand  creativity  gamedesign  process 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Long Views » Blog Archive » Forbes on Time
"Time is dimension, Time is money, Time is flying, Time is measured, Time is perception, Time is up"
perception  time  longnow  timetravel 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Long Views » Blog Archive » Long Now reflects on Self Storage
"The project titled Self-Storage was inspired by the historical precedent of the Dymaxion Chronofile, a system that Buckminster Fuller devised to chronicle his life."
documentation  lifestreams  buckminsterfuller  longnow  memory  art 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Conceptual Trends and Current Topics - Tools for Big Love
"best predictor of longevity for system...not to inspect business model but answer: Do the people who like the place/building/system/product take care of each other? Not just object of veneration but mutual care of fans? Do they run on love?"
organizations  management  lcproject  schools  design  business  longevity  longnow  kevinkelly  clayshirky  economics  love  society  web  internet  social  community  gamechanging  predictions  schooldesign  mission  administration  leadership 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The Hidden Curriculum (guest-blogger Bill Farren, post 2) | Beyond School
"How was it built? What materials used? from where? How is it run? Did building’s designers take into consideration its location? Who decided how (if) it should be built? Does building make attempt to connect students with their outside world?"
schools  schooldesign  lcproject  education  design  curriculum  children  learning  alternative  deschooling  teaching  environment  sustainability  purpose  bighere  longnow 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Long Views » Blog Archive » Tracking our little heres for the long now
"Artist collaborative plan b makes location-specific works & performances exploring dynamics of narrative & time...visualize GPS data by translating time-stamped coordinates into lines, creating time-lapse animations superimposed on maps of their location
longnow  location  psychogeography  geography  place  movement  gps  drawing  animation  locative  location-based  maps  mapping  art 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Long Views » Blog Archive » Svalbard Seed Vault Opens
"Amazingly only a few years after it begun the Seed Vault in Svalbard has opened. I cant wait to go and see how they built a multi-millennial structure so fast."
longnow  norway  seeds  vault  svalbard  sustainability  archive 
february 2008 by robertogreco
ed4wb » Blog Archive » The Long Here and Now
"Notice the two top layers: fashion and commerce. Most schools can be found ankle deep in these layers for the majority of the school year. Much time, energy and money is spent on the pedagogical fashion of the moment."
slow  schools  education  schooldesign  curriculum  trends  longnow  bighere  comments  time  lcproject  economics  society  culture  policy 
february 2008 by robertogreco
russell davies: dawdlr - a twitter for the long now II
"Dawdlr has just updated for the first time. I think it's worked rather well. People have sent excellent things. Some florid, some restrained, some silly, some thoughtful. It's like twitter; people are making up 'what it's for' on their own."
dawdlr  longnow  russelldavies  twitter  slow  time 
november 2007 by robertogreco
russell davies: dawdlr - a twitter for the long now
"I've tried to make dawdlr way slower than twitter. I reckon most people I know twitter about twice a day, so dawdlr is going to update twice a year. To try and get people to say what they're doing, you know, more generally."
slow  longnow  twitter  analog  messaging  viral  overload  parody  humor  blogging  socialsoftware  blogs  tumblr 
november 2007 by robertogreco
dawdlr
"dawdlr is a global community of friends and strangers answering one simple question: what are you doing, you know, more generally?"
slow  longnow  twitter  analog  messaging  viral  overload  parody  humor  blogging  socialsoftware  blogs  tumblr 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Format Exchange
"This will be a central repository and discussion space for file format conversion to aid in knowledge transfer. The goal is to build a community and tool to help allow the information we are all now creating digitally to move into the future."
tools  collections  exchange  file  format  software  conversion  culture  digital  language  media  storage  time  longnow 
february 2007 by robertogreco
Preoccupations: Consilience
"Consilience is about breaking down boundaries between disciplines, but it's also about breaking down barriers between learners. Consilience and open, collaborative knowledge cultures are tightly intertwined."
ideas  knowledge  play  learning  education  future  thinking  problemsolving  consilience  collaborative  collaboration  stevenjohnson  brianeno  longnow  interdisciplinary 
january 2007 by robertogreco
Imagine Earth without people - life - 12 October 2006 - New Scientist
"Imagine that all the people on Earth - all 6.5 billion of us and counting - could be spirited away tomorrow, transported to a re-education camp in a far-off galaxy. (Let's not invoke the mother of all plagues to wipe us out, if only to avoid complication
animals  climate  earth  ecology  energy  environment  extinction  future  green  landscape  worldchanging  sustainability  science  research  nature  longnow 
october 2006 by robertogreco
200,000 years for all trace of Man to vanish from the Earth - World - Times Online
"Within hours, nature would begin to eradicate its impact. In 50,000 years all that would remain would be archaeological traces. Only radioactive materials and a few man-made chemical contaminants would last longer — an invisible legacy."
earth  longnow  environment  evolution  extinction  future  global  green  human  ideas  illustration  images  nature  timelines  visualization  world 
october 2006 by robertogreco
The Long Zoom - New York Times
"When I mentioned this to Eno, he immediately chimed in agreement. “I thought the same thing,” he said. “If you really want to reinvent education, look at games. They fold everything in: history, sociology, anthropology, chemistry — you can piggyb
videogames  games  play  perspective  longnow  zoom  education  learning  view  schools  development  software  design  psychology  philosophy  human  brain  intelligence 
october 2006 by robertogreco
Long Now
"The Long Now Foundation hopes to provide counterpoint to today's "faster/cheaper" mind set and promote "slower/better" thinking. We hope to creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years."
awareness  biology  business  creativity  culture  future  ideas  institutions  longnow  bighere  music  philosophy  slow  social  society  technology  thinking  time  world  research  psychology  simplicity 
september 2006 by robertogreco
Brian Eno - The Big Here and the Long Now | DIGITALSOULS.COM | New Media Art | Philosophy | Culture
"Everyone seemed to be ‘passing through’. It was undeniably lively, but the downside was that it seemed selfish, irresponsible and randomly dangerous. I came to think of this as "The Short Now", and this suggested the possibility of its opposite - "Th
bighere  longnow  environment  creativity  future  awareness  context  sustainability  technology  society  culture  space  sociology  brianeno  psychology  philosophy  essays  art 
september 2006 by robertogreco

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