Viridian Note 00174: Viridian Commentary

Bruce Sterling []

Key concepts
Ten thousand year clock, Viridian comments
Attention Conservation Notice
Comments from people on Viridian List may be way too much like something you yourself would say.

Links: A musical composition intended to play for a thousand years. It's playing in London now. Hope they take it easy with those Great Fires and Blitzes henceforth. The Long Term Ecological Research Network. Kinda presupposes some long-term ecology, but the Antarctic hasn't melted quite yet. Consumer items that outlast the consumer. Site not updated since January. Launch a 50,000 year archive into space. And in French! Maybe. The Dead Media Project: Yeah, well, I'll get back to that just any time now.

Involuntary Time Capsules^^^^^^^^** (John Weeks)

Howdy Pope.

    Enjoyed your thoughts on Long Now & time capsules. The world also has involuntary time capsules. "Involuntary parks" like Chernobyl preserve endangered species in a world that sees biodiversity vanish at an ever-faster pace.

    Then there are landmines and unexploded ordnance. These artifacts are buried in the ground for future exposure. They say negative things about us and our society, and will continue to threaten people for decades if not hundreds of years. Yet while they're stylistically inappropriate, they may serve to help protect forests (and their inhabitants) from rampant logging in Southeast Asia. Future generations may refer to Chernobyl, Cambodia and Mozambique as 'fortunate accidents'.

Re: Viridian Note 00172: 10-K Clock^^^^^^^^^****** (Jon Lasser)

Your remarks about the Eiffel Tower reminded me of my recent trip to Brussels. My hotel was not far from the "Atomium," a monument built for the 1958 Worlds Fair.

    The Atomium, if you haven't seen it, is a 400 foot high model of an iron atom. (The exhibit was funded by the metals industry.) If you want to see a picture, there's one on the web page, at . The Atomium is a whole bunch of gleaming metal spheres connected by gleaming metal rods, just like those little atom models you had in chemistry class, but much, much bigger. You can go inside of it, all the way up to the top, and (if the haze and smog permit) see much of Brussels from the air, as with many other tall-building tourist attractions.

    What really made the Atomium special, though, was the sensibility of 1958, the whole "The atom is our future!" vibe the place has. (As we approached, my wife whispered the phrase "Raygun Gothic!") Originally, escalators ran between the rods, and some still remain. It's still easy to imagine the fair, and the Atomium at its heyday. In a brilliant postmodern move, most of the public exhibit space is now dedicated to comic books that feature the Atomium.

    Perhaps there's space in the Viridian movement for admiration of failed anti-Viridian belief systems. Like the badly decayed 'atomic rocket car' motif. Sure, we're subject to the same foibles as all of these people == if not worse follies == but a four hundred foot high iron atom was one heck of a rhetorical gesture. There's a whole aesthetic in the failure of attempted permanency.

Re: Viridian Note 00172: 10-K Clock^* (Tim Lovitt)

    What about flipping your concept of the radiactive clock? Instead of killing you if you get too close, you die if you move far away. The perimeter charnel house would create a quick myth and a horocentric society.

    David Suzuki's new book has a lovely passage about the gas Argon, which is not assimilated by living beings. Therefore "your next breath will contain about 400,000 of the argon atoms that Gandhi breathed in his life. Argon atoms are here from the conversations at the last supper, from the arguments of diplomats at Yalta, and from the recitations of the classic poets...". This makes me wonder if we shouldn't somehow power a clock with expelled argon.

Re: Viridian Note 00172: 10-K Clock^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^*

In thousands of years, no one will understand us moderns. A serious Long Now effort should start with "what will they be able to decode in 10K years", and work backwards from there. I'd suggest a few hundred geographically- distributed gizmos that look like the Mayan/Aztec calendar stone, tallying every sunrise and sunset, powered by decaying chunks of spent U238.

(((This is not at all far from the Long Now Foundation's "Rosetta Disk" concept. It's a micro-etched metal disk with a steel container and a lens top, containing brief excerpts of a thousand contemporary languages. Though it says little itself, like the Rosetta Stone, it should enable the decipherment of any contemporary wreckage still hanging around centuries later.)))

Re: Viridian Note 00172: 10-K Clock^^^^^^^* (Marjorie N. Wood)

Nice speech, but what do you have against Christianity?

(((This discussion is 2,000 years old and still going strong.)))

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