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Category: books

12/24/08 04:57 - ID#47174

Anathem and The Long Now Foundation

Last night I downloaded a very interesting book, which I am listening to in audio while I work. The book is by Neal Stephenson, the author of The Baroque Cycle and a few other cyberpunk classics like The Cryptonomicon. This book is titled Anathem and is for the reader or listener who enjoys the experience of imagining other cultures through fiction, and exploring their deep histories and linguistic differences as a lens to understand our own. So, if you enjoyed the epic scope of Frank Herbert's DUNE, or J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings (or if you had the gumption to read through Tolkien's notes on elf language, or the mind melting cosmology of The Silmarillion) then I have no doubt that this book is for you.

I will not waste time giving you a plot summary, which you can find here on wikipedia, or by looking it up on Amazon. What interests me more about this book is the connection it has with The Long Now Foundation in San Francisco. I have been following the doings of this foundation for some time, because they have a wonderful monthly podcast where scientists and leading thinkers of our day are free to speculate about the next 10,000 years.

The book itself budded out of the continuation of Stephenson's involvements with the foundation on their most ambitious project of creating The Clock of the Long Now, or the 10,000 year clock - a sort of every lasting sign of human ingenuity and a inspiration for thinkers to think not towards short term horizons, but toward long term horizons measured in near geological timescales.

The chimes for the clock itself were developed by Brian Eno using algorithms to ensure that each time it chimes it will be different than the last.

Proceeds from the sale of books, and a number of other items related to the world of Anathem through the Long Now Foundation's website go towards the 10,000 year clock fund.
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