An Interview With Stewart Brand of The Long Now Foundation

MOTHER EARTH NEWS conducts an interview with Stewart Brand of The Long Now Foundation.

| December 2000/January 2001

An interview with Stewart Brand of The Long Now Foundation.

In 1968 Stewart Brand published the Whole Earth Catalog, a handbook (some say bible) of environmental tools and guidelines needed for an independent lifestyle. In 1970, in the thick of the counterculture, MOTHER was there to embrace the excitement. "Stewart Brand is responsible," said John Shuttleworth, the founder and original editor, when asked where he got the idea for the magazine. "I was inspired by the Whole Earth Catalog." Thirty years and numerous projects later, Brand continues to inspire. After winning the National Book Award in 1972 for The Last Whole Earth Catalog, Brand dove headlong into the possibilities of computer technology, global community and responsible building. In 1984 he founded The Well, one of the first online community chat rooms to stake a claim on the Internet. He has been a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has written numerous books, including How Buildings Learn, an award winning book on the possibilities of ecologically sound design. In 1986 the multi-talented Brand also founded the Global Business Network.

But his latest project — The Long Now Foundation — may be the most ambitious one thus far. With co-founder Danny Hillis and an international group of artists, scientists and environmentalists, Brand has built the Millennium Clock, a working timepiece based on 18th-century technology that will record seconds, minutes and hours for the next 10,000 years. Part of the project includes the beginnings of a 10,000-year library, which will eventually be buried inside a mountain in Nevada along with the clock . The goal, says Brand, is to help civilization break free from the immediacy and rush of information, and help to broaden humanity's perspective. Talk about forward thinking!

Sam Martin Matt Scanlon conducts an interview with Stewart Brand for MOTHER EARTH NEWS: This is a homecoming of sorts. MOTHER has mentioned you many times over the years.

Well, you're one of the very few magazines that's actually aware of its own past.

One funny thought occurred to us as we were reading about The Well. At what point are you and Al Gore going to have a Greco-Roman wrestling match to see who really invented the Internet?

Well, I certainly didn't, and he did a great deal more than we did. The fact is that Al Gore — the Gore Bill — created the initiative within which the present Internet was invented. And so, if you look at his original statement, it's dead accurate.

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