The Long Now

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

– Stewart Brand, founding board member of the Long Now Foundation

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Published in: on November 16, 2009 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That certainly resonates. I tried to communicate a similar need for appreciating ‘now’ (on a more personal level, perhaps) here

  2. The Long Now Foundation got its name from Brian Eno. Apparently, when he moved to New York he discovered that “here” and “now” meant “in this room” and “within the next five minutes”, whereas he was used to a bigger here and a longer now in England. The idea of the foundation is to encourage long-term thinking, rather like how you told me that the Vatican plans at least a century ahead.

    I like this idea: it seems to fit with my need to feel part of something old and timeless. Neal Stephenson, who has been involved in one of the Long Now Foundation’s projects to build a 10,000 year clock, wrote in his latest novel about the need for people to feel part of a narrative, part of some story longer and bigger than themselves. I think it is this need that sucks people into ideologies, conspiracy theories and so on. It is, in effect, what tradition provides, and explains why tradition is the only effective antidote to pathological ideologies.


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