A Brief Word in Praise of the Long Now

by William Grosso

Related link: http://www.longnow.org/

I first heard of the Long Now Foundation what seems like a long time ago. Stewart Brand was touring the country, giving talks about it, and I went to one of his talks (I remember being astonished; it was a talk in a local bookstore and only 30 or so people showed up. For a free talk by Stewart Brand. That seemed astonishing to me). It was a very good talk about the importance of long term thinking. I don't remember much of the specifics of what he said, except for a great anecdote which went something like:

Alright. Now, how many of you have eaten a lobster?

[Everyone raises hands]

Now, how many of you have eaten a lobster without making a mess?

[Nobody raises their hand]

How many of you know know someone who's eaten a lobster without making a mess?

[Nobody raises their hand]

That's interesting. I know a man who has [pause] Of course, he's a surgeon and it took him two hours...

[Everyone laughs]

It seems silly, but there's an important point here. Everything becomes easier if you have the right tools and enough time. A lot of the problems we're looking at today, that we're wondering if they can be solved, are easy if try to solve them in the long run, instead of right away.

Whenever I get frustrated by the pace at which things go, I remember the surgeon and the lobster.

Anyway, as part of its activities, the Long Now Foundation holds a seminar on Long Term Thinking. It's a seriously great series of talks. I always drop $10 (the suggested donation) in the admission jar, but you can pay as little as you want (or nothing; payment is voluntary).

That the seminars are available after the fact is just lagniappe.

I don't have much else to say. This is more of a public thank you to the folks at the Long Now than anything else.

Do you ever engage in long term thinking?