KUER Local News
Tue June 10, 2003
Stewart Brand and the Clock of the Long Now
By Grant Burningham
Salt Lake City, UT –
Stewart Brand has had a long, varied career. Brand's incarnations include an army officer, a biologist studying Indian Peyote Cults, an accomplished author, and even a merry prankster, appearing in Tom Wolfe's Electric Koolaid Acid Test. He founded the Whole Earth Catalogue, and is working to index the world's languages and the DNA of every species. But Brand is probably best known for his campaign to lobby for the NASA satellite Explorer to return a picture of the whole earth,' a project that culminated in the creation of the famous image of earth, a precariously perched colored ball in a vacuous sea of space; an image which helped fuel movements from environmentalism to nuclear non-proliferation.
His latest project is to change how people think about time. In the view of his Long Now Foundation, humanity suffers from a short attention span which doesn't take long term responsibility into account.
As the group's preamble states:
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.
His solution? To build a monumental clock in America's high desert designed to chime once every thousand years. Next to the clock he envisions a library, filled with important knowledge or visitor comments, or postal letters addressed to future.
After acquiring some land outside of Great Basin National Park, plans are now being made to build the giant, 80ft tall clock that sets itself using the sun, can run through a nuclear winter, and, of course, chime once every thousand years.
I talked to Stewart Brand from his home, a houseboat of Sausalito.
Or visit King's English, 1511 South 1500 East - Salt Lake City, UT 84105 - Tel: (801) 484-9100.