The Long Now Foundation (http://www.longnow.org/) is an organization that focuses on combating the “here and now” culture in which we live and trying to get people to think in terms of the bigger picture and a longer time frame. The organization posts these guidelines for thinking in the longer term:
- Serve the long view
- Foster responsibility
- Reward patience
- Mind mythic depth
- Ally with competition
- Take no sides
- Leverage longevity
Notice how all the years on the website (e.g., 01996 = 1996) are written in terms of 10,000 years, rather than 1,000 years.
“The Long Now Foundation was established in *01996 to creatively foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.”
The organization’s major project is the 10,000 Year Clock, which was first proposed by the computer scientist, Daniel Hillis:
"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 02000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 02000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium."
Hillis is currently working on his second version of the clock. The first design is on display at the London Science Museum.
As Stewart Brand, the California activist who “For more than 40 years … has been at the nexus between California’s counterculture and its technological avant-garde” and is also involved in the Clock of the Long Now, puts it in an interview with the FT (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/652828ec-fbe0-11de-9c29-00144feab49a.html):
“I had been perturbed for a long time”, Brand says, “about how short-term thinking is rewarded a lot and institutionalised a lot. Quarterly reports. Elections every two years for congressmen. A prototype of the clock is now in the Science Museum in London. “The first thing I almost always hear from somebody who I encounter is, ‘How’s the clock coming?’ The clock doesn’t even exist yet, and it’s already working.”
Have a good weekend.David
Bill Werther & David Chandler
Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility
© Sage Publications, 2006