Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Your favorite books and links
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jacob
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Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by jacob » Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:19 am

http://blog.longnow.org/02014/02/06/man ... on-begins/

(probably a better shot than Lovelock's bible... insofar it doesn't burn down when the big one hits)

fips
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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by fips » Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:25 pm

We will be publishing the list in the coming months once we have the suggestions narrowed down by our members and supporters. We have reached about 1400 nominations but will need four to five thousand to have enough to winnow it down to the very best 3000 books.
So… If you were stranded on an island (or small hostile planetoid), what books would YOU want to have with you? We began asking this question [...].
I might die on that hostile planetoid before I have digested three thousand books on how to survive and rebuild civilization (make planetoid great again!) ... but then again, if my life depended on it, I might read a little more effectively than usual and keep the books of the "Cultural Canon (Great Books, Shakespeare, Plato, etc.)" for my long and lonely evening.

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jennypenny
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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by jennypenny » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:32 pm

*must resist challenge*

George the original one
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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by George the original one » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:34 pm

Time capsules are rarely relevant to the people who open them.

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by Dream of Freedom » Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:54 am

Going through a few of the lists they got from their contributors I don't see any textbooks, wilderness survival books, guides on building techniques, or books on mechanical engineering or even repair. I don't know how someone is supposed to rebuild civilization without having the practical side covered in full.

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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by vexed87 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:09 am

I know these are simply a collection of books and tomes of expertise rather than a blueprint of civilization, but there seems to be a common thread in these kind of projects, what's with our apparent obsession of rebuilding civilization in it's current image? Depending on how you measure it, but I assume most agree, of all the known civilizations ours will be one of the shorter lived and most ecocidal. Wouldn't we be better off leaving plans on how to build an organic civilization, much like those seen before the industrial revolution and large-scale exploitation of coal. For example, a society tailored to thrive with only the energy made available from the sun through photosynthesis, like those pre-industrial era supported by tech that didn't require fossil fuels to operate, service and maintain? Of course they all failed eventually anyway with interconnected complex and unpredictable consequences. Civilization, let alone a sustainable one seems to be a hopeless project, why bother try preserve the knowledge at all? At least the survivors will have something to do relearning it all over again, also there's an argument in favor of that approach, so long as they don't follow too closely in our own footsteps they may find that holy grail :lol: :twisted:

I'm not suggesting that we would want to abandon the best bits of learning from the modern era such as germ theory, modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, energy efficient buildings, transport (sail boats, the bicycle, canal construction), microprocessors etc, but rather why give false hope to future generations of a 'better' way of living, most of what we have achieved now in terms of how structure civilization couldn't be reproduced with the resources that will be available to future generations. They are going to be working with stuff that grows in the sun or stocks of natural resources that are abundant, but also ultimately finite and thus need to be stewarded appropriately, something we tragically cannot grasp ourselves.
Last edited by vexed87 on Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

Kriegsspiel
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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by Kriegsspiel » Thu Apr 26, 2018 7:12 am

Dream of Freedom wrote:
Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:54 am
Going through a few of the lists they got from their contributors I don't see any textbooks, wilderness survival books, guides on building techniques, or books on mechanical engineering or even repair. I don't know how someone is supposed to rebuild civilization without having the practical side covered in full.
At least they'd have a handbook for all the transgender kids.

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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 26, 2018 1:16 pm

I think Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly's list were pretty good. Since one of my book dealing specialties used to be lost arts and crafts and still-useful-science, I probably could have winnowed my inventory down to 3500 titles that might have served when my total inventory was over 10,000. OTOH, WAAAAY too much shelf space devoted to science fiction, IMO.

Also, it seems to me that a bottom-up selection mechanism might better serve the purpose. Instead of looking around at everything that might potentially be re-created, put a group of mixed adults and children out in some wilderness/scrap-heap, and then allow them to order up books as needed/desired. Probably the first book I would order up would be "Living Off the Country" by Bradford Angier, because I do not know how to trap animals.

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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by jacob » Sat Apr 28, 2018 4:08 pm

I suppose such a library suffers from the same fallacy of construction as Lovelock's bible (or the Bible or the US Constitution for that matter)

Namely, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_knowledge ... that is, the adherents will likely not understand the context of the assembly; whereas that context is crucial in understanding the actual assembly. This is similar to how it's actually very difficult to replicate scientific experiments based on published papers alone because there's a lot of stuff that goes unspoken.

This again is similar to how a writer must assume the reader to have some knowledge already in order to communicate with them. For example, I assumed my readers to know what "thus" and "tensegrity" was, but not necessarily the nuances of what "control" means.

If those assumptions are not the same, the instructions will fail.

Just try assembling some Ikea furniture for starters.

Or read a library that presumes that 25% of it must comprise science fiction and not cowboy romance fiction.

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Re: Long Now's Manual for Civilization

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:30 pm

Language is key. As an example of how quickly subtleties can be lost, almost all the children-of-immigrant students in the district where I teach refer to every variety of disposable paper product as "napkin." The reduction of terms might be generally predictable, but how could anybody predict the whys and wherefores of "napkin" being chosen over "paper" or "towel" or even "Kleenex?"

So, it seems to me that leaving future disenfranchised generations a reservoir of books on the topic of past-imagined alternative futures would almost be like a cruel joke. Far better to leave them with multiple copies of "Little House in the Big Woods" which although written for early primary reader, includes quite detailed instructions for the preparation of a hog for winter storage, inclusive of construction of ingenious hollow log smoker.

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