Several years ago, I was very pleased to find the Long Now Foundation. I appreciated their focus on long-term thinking, was delighted by their 10,000-year clock project, and enjoyed their monthly seminars. The seminars were informative and thought-provoking, and best of all, were attended by intelligent, interesting people, some of whom I got to know at the receptions after the talks.
Unfortunately, the quality and focus declined and after a while I ended my membership. A staff member followed up by asking me, “We would really appreciate your thoughts on membership, especially what we could have done or offered that would have encouraged you to keep your membership going?”
That prompted me to articulate what I had grown to dislike about the Long Now Foundation. This was a little over a year ago, but I’ve been thinking about it lately and thought it might be valuable to add it to this blog.
(August 16, 2016)
I have lapsed my membership because the foundation doesn’t seem to me to be following its calling of supporting long-term thinking.
A couple years ago I noticed that I attended fewer and fewer seminars, which I used to enjoy, because they had degenerated to TED-style talks on topics less and less relevant to long-term thinking. In particular, it’s amazing to me how little the Long Now Foundation talks about climate change. The next few centuries are going to be the “Long Emergency” as we and our descendants try to cope with the consequences of current and past greenhouse gas emissions. We really need to be ringing the alarm bells about changing our society and the way we live our lives right now, rather than chatting about cheery little geoengineering ideas or marshmallow tests.
In addition, I grew tired of Stewart Brand’s focus on big technology and capitalism as solutions to the problems we face and as an assumption for our world in the future. Capitalism is a particular social form that has lasted for a few hundred years at the most. It is not logical to assume that it is the social form society will take for the next several thousand years, not if we are to have a viable planet, anyway.
Not sure that helps, but there it is.