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Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility: The Ideas Behind The World's Slowest Computer
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Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility: The Ideas Behind The World's Slowest Computer

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  518 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
Using the designing and building of the Clock of the Long Now as a framework, this is a book about the practical use of long time perspective: how to get it, how to use it, how to keep it in and out of sight. Here are the central questions it inspires: How do we make long-term thinking automatic and common instead of difficult and rare? Discipline in thought allows freedom ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 6th 2000 by Basic Books (first published 1999)
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Otis Chandler
Giving a high rating because I heard the organizer of the Long Now Foundation speak and it was very inspiring. The Interval Cafe in San Francisco is also awesome and has The Long Library in it.

The part of the story that I liked most was the power of long thinking. How Oxford College has some gorgeous oak tree beams in their dining room, and they were crumbling, and so they wondered how to replace them. They created a search, and happened to ask the Oxford groundskeeper if any of the oak trees on
Dec 02, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy-essay
The Clock of the Long Now is an attempt by a group of forward thinkers --engineers, futurists, visionaries--to create a device to stimulate people to take a longer view of time. An actual physical clock that will "time" the next 10,000 years. Why ten thousand? Because 10,000 years ago, mankind invented agriculture, and with it, civilization began. The enormous leap wherein human beings planted seed for the coming year, rather than eating it. A sense that the future will come and can be cultivate ...more
Darin Stewart
May 16, 2012 Darin Stewart rated it really liked it
this is a wonderfully optimistic book. I have been sinking into severe pessimism about our society and this book helps to take a long view. With that shift in perspective, things do seem to be getting better, just very very slowly.
Feb 29, 2008 Paul rated it it was amazing
I just got this back from a friend and seeing it again reminded me how much I loved it. The author and Brian Eno (yes, THAT Brian Eno) had the idea of building an informational repository with a ten-thousand year time line in mind. This simple idea creates some large and fascinating questions. How do you store information for ten-thousand years? What media do you use? What _language_ do you use? How do you make sure that people don't forget about it? You want people to remember it is there, but ...more
Chinarut Ruangchotvit
Oct 25, 2014 Chinarut Ruangchotvit rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Jim Maricondo
Recommended to Chinarut by: Phil Libin
I got this book back in October at the Evernote Conference in 2014. Phil Libin raved about the book and now that I've read it - I can see why. As a futurist and a strategist, the book did a fascinating job widening my perspective not only 10,000 years into the future, but also made me very conscious about what got us here. What is it going to take to preserve aspects of our civilizations for thousands of centuries to come? Many great inquiries are posed to make you realize it takes a completely ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book from an interesting foundation. Lots of good ideas and things to ponder here. I probably should have taken notes throughout, but perhaps I'll just put it on my list of books to reread.

One interesting story, toward the end of the book:
"Another island, Visingso, in the Swedish lake Vattern, has a gorgeous mature oak forest whose origin came to light in 01980 when the Swedish Navy received a letter from the Forestry Department reporting that the requested ship lumber was now rea
Jun 30, 2014 Joey rated it really liked it
Some of this book is already getting a bit dated, and much if it was not new thoughts, since I follow the Long Now lectures and have even been to their space in SF. But it was still a worthwhile read.

Particularly useful was the diagram layering Art & Fashion / Commerce / Infrastructure / Government / Culture from fast to slow. It made me think about how I have mostly skipped the commercial in my work and went straight to infrastructure, and what may lie beyond that.

Also enjoyed the detail in
Jul 06, 2014 Jack rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this the year it was first published. It remains one of the most important books that I have been lucky enough to read. The authors argue that it is increasingly difficult to imagine the future, in part because the technology that surrounds us is changing the world so rapidly. The work we do, the countries on the globe, and the lives we lead are all changing. How we communicate, how we travel, how we think of ourselves is unlike when our grandparents lived and it will be only vaguely like ...more
Teo 2050
The Long Now Clock/Library is a project to do to our sense of time what a full photograph of the Earth ("Big Here") did to our sense of space: remind us of the bigger picture. Together they are the Long Here, which is an awesomely poetic place & way to live.

(view spoiler)
Jun 25, 2008 mgd rated it it was amazing
I think that everyone who has a reason to think about information and everyone who has any concern at all about the environment needs to read this book. I offers an invitation at least to open up our thinking out of the economically bound timescapes that we use now.
Austin Storm
Mar 22, 2009 Austin Storm rated it liked it
Good book... very skimmable collection of essays from a thoughtful, starry-eyed hippie type.
Ideas in here are 5 stars (even if they seem overly pie in the sky)
May 15, 2017 Ameer rated it liked it
The clock of the long now is an interesting collection of essays about an interesting art piece (that is the purpose of the clock is to send a message more than tell the time, although it does look nice and is about as cool as a mechanical computer could be). The book is sort of similar to what you might expect the commentary around such an art piece would be, philosophizing about the purpose and motivation and implications. There were some interesting bits in here, lots of interesting ideas and ...more
Yates Buckley
Mar 20, 2017 Yates Buckley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essential
The idea itself of a clock designed to run 10,000 years is incredible: on the one hand preposterous, ridiculous, pharaonic even. My first reaction was to think that the idea was a bit crazy, and I could not see the point to such a construct. The process that took me from absurd to enthusiastic follows the words of this book.
Only if we seriously work on projects for our deep future, can we come to respect and care for it, like we would our personal descendants. And I do believe many of the most c
Paola Quiros
Jun 05, 2017 Paola Quiros rated it really liked it
Love the design principles on the chapter "The world's slowest computer": Longevity, maintainability, transparency, evolvability and scalability.... They all should be our filter for our projects in life/work/love.
Apr 28, 2008 Tricia rated it really liked it
A modern-day investigation of our perception of time, Stewart Brand makes the concept of millennial time imaginable and easily accessible (I read it in about 4 hours, ultimately not practicing what was being preached perhaps.)

Brand, the author also of the Whole Earth Catalog, is one of the founders of the Long Now (, an organization dedicated to creating a 10,000 year clock. The book is a series of essays which expound upon the essence of time within our conception and man
Aug 24, 2012 Torben rated it it was amazing
Steward Brand uses his book to explain the idea of the "long now". It examines the topic of thinking and planning for the long term - litterally millenia.

The book introduces the clock of the long now project - a 10,000 year clock - intended to help shift the concept of "now" for humanity and inspire true long term thinking.

The idea of the long now clock came from Daniel Hillis who observed:

"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty ye
Apr 29, 2016 Crysta rated it really liked it
Delicious food for thought about thinking the value of thinking in the long term vs the short term, and how we can make that shift. Written in 1999, Brand looks at the effects of the shortening of the human attention span in our capacity (and desire) to plan for future generations. Through a series of essays, he takes different approaches on how societies work, the roles of libraries and museums, the difference between the two Greek concepts of time (chronos = linear time; kairos = opportune mom ...more
Apr 06, 2009 Anthony rated it really liked it
I've had this book for about 10 years but never gotten around to reading it. I noticed it on the shelf recently and paging through it was inspired to read it. It didn't hurt that my wife's book club was reading Anathem by Neal Stephenson, a book which draws much of it's inspiration from the projects described in this book.

What is the clock of the long now? It's a project to create a clock and library to last for 10,000 years or more. Sound ambitious? It is, and this book tries to describe the re
Steve Lindenberg
Aug 31, 2015 Steve Lindenberg rated it it was amazing
This book held my wrapt attention from start to roughly chapter 18 (of 25); something changed for me when the author started adding a 0 to the display of years (ie. 02015). I recognize how it's a core idea of what they're shooting for, but it was a bit much for me. I finished the book, but it was a deliberate effort to get through the ending whereas the first 2/3 was an absolute breeze.

Stretching one's timeline focus range is an idea I hadn't given much/any thought to yet. Very glad I crossed pa
Jan 06, 2014 Tom rated it liked it
Definitely worth reading, as one of the somewhat few books that not only talks about the fast-paced now-times but also potential ways to add some anchors and stability.

I would have loved to read more about the clock and previous thinking around time - the kairos/chronos distinction could be elaborated on a lot more and it would have been great.

It has drawbacks: nearly every reference to technology makes a bad bet. It quotes Jaron Lanier, one of the least likable and most unproductive voices in t
Sarah Elena
Mar 07, 2010 Sarah Elena rated it it was amazing
This is a group of essays published in one volume by San Francisco's Long Now Foundation. You can find a branch of theirs down at Fort Mason. The basic goal of this book is to familiarize the reader with the foundation's ideas - which involve re-shaping the way that humans perceive, and react to, Time.
I found the book to be fascinating, easy to read (the essays are in all different bite size shapes), and inspiring.
I often find myself feeling lost in the sonic boom of our accelerating culture, a
Oct 20, 2008 Jim rated it it was amazing
My lunchtime read. I've know about the Clock project for a few years, but only pulled this book out from my backlog recently. The subtitle "Time and Responsibility" intrigues me, and I hope this means the book will delve into territory beyond the mere facts of the Clock's plan.

Update: Holy mackerel! Three chapters in, and this is by far the most stimulating book I've come across in ages. Brand & Co. have taken a few simple concepts and carried them out to their richest implications. Fair war
Deniss Rutseikov Ojastu
Aug 03, 2011 Deniss Rutseikov Ojastu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: leadership, favorites
A book about combining innovation and responsibility for one's action. Based on the idea of 10.000-Year Clock, the book tackles the problems of sustainable development, human society transformation, influence of technology on our lives. An interesting example of how great vision can be strongly initiated, driven, and communicated at the same time. The author's intellectual capacity is impressive - referrals to historical records, technological development, and biology are all placed well within ...more
Sep 05, 2011 Heidi rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a very different style of book. It's a collection of essays that make you think about long-term planning. How to approach problems when time scales are centuries long. And how this compares to the ever increasing acceleration of technology. I found it an enjoyable change from my usual choice of books, though there were definitely some essays I enjoyed more than others.

It took me until about halfway into the book to realize the book was actually written in 1999 and thus there's referenc
Oct 24, 2015 Stephen rated it really liked it
How would you build two projects that will be around in 10,000 years?

(1) A working clock
(2) A library of written works

This book explores how we would practically accomplish these goals and the challenges associated with doing it. IF you think such a task would be pretty easy, you should read the book and put in perspective just how long 10,000 years is and how hard it would be to accomplish the goal.

Part technology discussion (the practicalities of the goals), part philosophical treatise on the
Juan Castro
First third of the book is amazing, inspiring and reflexive. It reminded me of Borge's fiction of the infinite library and the Aleph altogether. A bit of Asimov's Foundation's machine. A lot of highlights worth remembering. What you expect from a book where Kevin Kelly and Brian Eno got together in idea joint venture. But then, everything just goes to hell. Mixed feelings around the score. Weird read.
Jun 23, 2008 Alex rated it liked it
A short, stimulating, very readable book with perspectives on the very long run (thousands of years). The book is essentially a set of loosely related short essays (5-10 pages).

Despite its age (1998), this book really got me thinking about the role of technology and the future in our society.

Definately worth picking up and reading 60 or so pages to get the gist.
Jun 19, 2008 Paige rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
When I first saw this in the bookstore, it looked kind of like corny science fiction or something, but the subtitle "Time & Responsibility" caught my attention. That's the part of the book I enjoyed, although the stuff on the clock was at times interesting. I liked the questions he posed and the long view approach he discusses for much of the book.
Oct 16, 2008 Scott rated it it was amazing
Brand advocates thinking long-term, and he means thinking on a 10,000-year timescale. In the same way the photo of the whole earth as a "Big Here" launched the environmental movement, Brand and company are now building a clock that will help us think of 10,000 years as a "Long Now." This little book is a thought-provoking explanation of why it's worthwhile.
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Stewart Brand was a pioneer in the environmental movement in the 60s – his Whole Earth Catalog became the Bible for sustainable living, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide. Brand is President of The Long Now Foundation and chairs the foundation's Seminars About Long-term Thinking.
More about Stewart Brand...

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“Civilization is revving 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 multitasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed—some mechanism or myth that encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where “the long term” is measured at least in centuries.” 3 likes
“The sociologist Elise Boulding diagnosed the problem of our times as “temporal exhaustion”: “If one is mentally out of breath all the time from dealing with the present, there is no energy left for imaging the future.” 3 likes
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