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Clock Of The Long Now: Time And Responsibility: The Ideas Behind The World's Slowest Computer Paperback – April 6, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; New edition edition (April 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465007805
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465007806
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The image of our planet on the cover of Brand's Whole Earth Catalog communicated a powerful symbol of the big picture. Brand's new, mind-stretching book challenges readers to get outside themselves and combat the short-term irresponsible thinking that has led to environmental destruction and social chaos. Brand also eloquently urges us to distill and preserve knowledge. Though we seem to live in an age of information overload (each new U.S. president leaves behind more papers than all the previous ones combined), Brand contends that we actually inhabit an age of rapid information loss. Because of changing storage media, as one researcher has quipped, "digital information lasts foreverAor five years, whichever comes first." Time capsules don't solve the problem, for 70% of them are lost almost immediately after being sealed. Brand envisages two monuments that will incorporate the long view into our common consciousness. The first is a giant, exquisitely slow clock. It would be big enough to walk around in, and it would display the year, positions of the sun and moon, generations and millennia. The second is the "Ten-Thousand Year Library," a vast underground labyrinth of books. Here we'd preserve enormous amounts of knowledge from history and other long-perspective disciplines. These ideas deserve more than 15 minutes of fame. Quotable quotes, plentiful paradoxes and humane values make this a book to be savored and discussedAslowly. (June)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Touted as "the least recognized most influential thinker in America," Brand, creater of The Whole Earth Catalog, wears that mantle with aplomb in his latest offering. He takes on civilization's "pathologically short attention span" with a proposal to encourage us all to assume long-term responsibility for the continuation of the human species. How to do this? By creating both a myth and a mechanism with which to counter our short focus these days, which Brand names as the core of the problem. He spends the remainder of this rumination clarifying that thought and outlining the details of the myth and mechanism that he suggests as a catalyst: a clock that ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and cuckoos but once a millennium. The Clock of the Long Now is both fascinating and, yes, maybe just a bit revolutionary and is most likely to find a suitable home in academic and larger public libraries with readers who are fervent in the desire to see us go on. [See also Brand's "Escaping the Digital Age," LJ 2/1/99, p. 46-48.AEd.]AGeoff Rotunno, "Valley Voice" Newspaper, Goleta, C.
-AGeoff Rotunno, "Valley Voice" Newspaper, Goleta, CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

There are two kinds of books that make you feel smart.
Noah Johnson
I couldn't help but imagine this being the next Y2K issue that will plague the business world's imagination.
Walter H. Brown
Fortunately, there are loftier goals for this project, and many are very well described throughout the book.
Buckeye

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stewart Brand definitely has a knack for presenting a cross-current of ideas in a way that is simultaneously engaging and thought provoking. While some will find the actual project of the Clock and the Library far fetched, it does form a very effective backdrop for "[forcing] thinking in interesting directions; among other things, toward long-term responsibility."
This is definitely a book to read more than once. I found new thoughts forming as I re-read chapters that were now framed by concepts presented in later chapters. Yet, the chapters are nice and short and self-contained so I could easily pick up the book, re-read some chapter that caught my fancy, and feel satisfied contemplating some aspect of the entirety -- like being able to savor a snack instead of having to eat an entire meal.
I dog-eared "The Order of Civilization" chapter which for me really crystallized analogous concepts concerning the construction of robust "organic" information systems (what I'm supposed to be doing for a living). I loved the concept of layers operating at ever slower paces maintaining the resilience of the overall system. I also found "Ending the Digital Dark Age" very interesting. I highly recommend this book to anyone designing systems that could have an impact on the world for any significant length of time.
Incidentally, the half-past chimes sounded on my century clock while I was reading this book. Maybe that is one of the reasons I liked it so much. Perhaps you have to be "over the hill", riding at ever increasing speed toward the future of your children to really be turned on by these ideas.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Noah Johnson on December 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
There are two kinds of books that make you feel smart. The first kind is so laughably awful that you put it down thinking "I'm WAY smarter than that guy." The second, and better, kind is a book that leaves you with a couple dozen exciting new ideas whizzing around your head, firing your imagination and inspiring thoughts you would never otherwise have had. This book is the second kind. With solidly-documented ideas and examples drawn from a hundred sources, Brand demonstrates that our relationship to time, and the models we use to think about it, are no longer useful and need to be changed. The new models for thinking about it are included at no charge.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By doomsdayer520 HALL OF FAME on October 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Long Now Foundation has done some great work since this book was published back in 1999. The group's basic goal of alleviating humanity's destructively short attention span is a great one, and anyone who feels that the world is on the wrong course would find great enlightenment in the group's works. But interested persons would be better served to check out what the Long Now Foundation has accomplished since this very preliminary book was published. Stewart Brand merely compiled a not very robust collection of undeveloped musings and rhetorical questions that merely hint at the potential of the Long Now worldview. Also, I don't think any other reviewers caught the irony of a series of short and largely self-contained essays (averaging around 4-5 pages) collected in a book that's trying to increase humanity's attention span. Granted, there are many great insights in here, particularly how digitized information storage actually leads to the disappearance of more knowledge, and how humanity's worst problems are long term and are misunderstood with typical short term thinking. Once again, the Foundation's got incredible ideas. But this particular book, from early in the group's existence, shows only fragmented hints of a philosophy that hadn't yet come together. [~doomsdayer520~]
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Buckeye on September 3, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book examines the topic of thinking and planning for the long term - and the author definitely means the LONG term. The book focuses on two nascent projects headed up by the author and the "Long Now Foundation" - the effort to build a 10,000 year clock and a 10,000 year library. This projects are intended to help shift humanity's concept of "now" to a much longer time frame. And with this shift in the concept of now, it is hoped that a new concept of responsibility for our individual and group behavior will emerge.
This book and the thinking behind it represent an excellent counterpoint to the prevalent and destructive view of "now" as beeing some extremely short term time frame - today, this week, or (for many corporations) this quarter. One can only hope that it is widely read. If the ideas behind this book and its associated project change only a small segment of our population's view about stewardship and care for the long-term health and longevity of our planet and our race it will be well worth the effort.
While I thought the book was generally very well-written, and presented many, many thought-provoking points, some of the ideas seem to have been rather poorly thought out and gave the impression of having been simply tossed in to the mix. At one point a potential role of the 10,000 year library as a repository of both sides of important debates is described - an excellent idea, but the objective is described as allowing future generations to know who to "blame" if things go wrong. Going to all this trouble just so our descendants can engage in blaming someone for something seems rather silly. Fortunately, there are loftier goals for this project, and many are very well described throughout the book.
This book has strongly impacted the way I think about the future. I highly recommend it.
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More About the Author

All 73 years is here:

http://sb.longnow.org/SB_homepage/Bio.html


--SB


















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