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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Long Now Foundation

The Long Now Foundation, founded by Stewart Brand, is a curious group that are interested in changing how we conceive of time and how we relate to time. This agenda has spurred them on to create two rather striking communication design projects.

The first, is a clock that is intended to function for 10,000 years, all the while displaying the correct “time”. The scale of time that it measures isn’t accountable on a regular clock face, and the humans (or whoever) that may be around in another 10,000 years may not follow our graphic conventions, so it really is a mind bender. Their 10,000 year clock is the proposed solution to this unique design problem. The prototype is shown below.

For a slideshow of clock images go here:

The second Long Now Foundation project is a wonderful typographic exploration: the Rosetta Project.

The Rosetta Project itself seeks to make a cache of as many parallel texts in as many languages as they can gather. The companion piece to the Project is the Rosetta Disk (the top side is shown above), which is like the decoder ring for the whole shebang. The central feature of the disk is a nickel plate micro etched with over 13,000 pages of language text. Think about that for a second: 13,000 pages on a disk only 3 inches in diameter, and representing 1,500 unique languages and accompanying writing systems. Marvelous no? Here's the link to an interactive view of both sides of the disk. It can be read with only optical magnification, and the disk comes fitted out with a half-sphere of crystal—which forms a magnifying glass—that sits on top.