A unique and strange organization started by Stewart Brand and Danny Hillis, which operates a bar in San Francisco and is building a 10000-year mechanical clock in the southwestern desert. I'm a member.
I vaguely remember a quote from him, something about how peace would never replace war because "conflict was too interesting". Not his most original thought, but it made an impression on me when I first came across it. Oddly I always think of him as the one sixties figure who was too smart to engage in the political conflicts of the time, preferring instead to map out creative alternatives.
A technology writer who covers some of the same themes I do. Kelly was the editor of Wired and before that associated with Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog and sort of incarnates the more libertarian techno-optimist strain of thinking from that quarter.
One of my heroes, Stewart Brand, famously promoted something akin to this stance with his Whole Earth Catalog mottos: "Access to Tools" and "We are as Gods and Might as well get Good at It". Tools for what? It doesn't matter, whatever you might want to do (in this case, "you" was a subset of hippies and people interested in alternative ways of living).
See Stewart Brand. The Catalog was a major early influence on me, particularly in its stance that one could be interested in anything and pursue anything. There was a Whole Earth Bookstore in Evanston, IL where I grew up, which is where I found both the catalog and Ted Nelson's Computer Lib/Dream Machines. When I went off to MIT I managed to fall in with a bunch of Whole Earth-friendly fellow students who were into alternative energy and other alternatives; later I got to actually share an office with SB himself in the early days of the Media Lab.
20 Jan 2021 08:48 - 01 Jan 2022 07:48
Best known as the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand has been involved in all sorts of interesting projects, from Doug Engelbart's radically innovative computer systems to George Church's efforts to revive extinct species.
He was an early influence on me through the Catalog, which I found as a teenager at about the same time I found Ted Nelson's Computer Lib, which shared some of the sixties alternative esthetics.
I leave the interpretation of my role to others. …. My client is civilization and my approach is that of a hacker: to figure out the shortcuts that make things happen.
Or for a more in-depth treatment, Fredrick Turner's book From Counterculture to Cyberculture, and there's an upcoming biography by John Markoff. And a documentary We Are As Gods is in the process of being released.
Stewart was a visiting something-or-other at the Media Lab when I was a graduate student, and an unofficial advisor to the Vivarium Project. I am quoted a couple of times in his book about the Media Lab.