The Long Now Foundation was officially established in 01996 to develop the Clock/Library Projects as well as to become the seed of a very long term cultural institution. It has been nearly 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age and the emergence of modern civilization. Progress during that time was often measured on a "faster/cheaper" scale. The Long Now Foundation seeks to promote "slower/better" thinking and to focus our collective creativity on the next 10,000 years.
Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase.
Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed---some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where 'long-term' is measured at least in centuries. Clock/Library proposes both a mechanism and a myth. It began with an observation and idea by computer scientist Daniel Hillis. He wrote in 01993:
"When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. Now, thirty years later, they still talk about what will happen by the year 2000. 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 the Millennium. 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."
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