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81 | The Resiliency of Right Now

Alexander Rose of the Long Now Foundation speaks with us about how designers can design better by thinking differently about time.

81 | The Resiliency of Right Now

Alexander Rose is the Emeritus Executive Director and Emeritus Member of the Board of Directors at The Long Now Foundation, a San Francisco based non-profit which encourages design that addresses long-term thinking. 

In an era defined by climate change and ultra-rapid urbanization, where designers are often cajoled into thinking about their designs in minutes, hours or years, The Long Now Foundation encourages us to think differently. Instead of asking how fast something can be designed, the Foundation seeks to answer what good design looks like when people start to consider themselves as part of the great continuum, stretching 20,000 years. Members of the foundation seek to promote this sentiment through projects, blogs, and seminars that focus on topics related to the future of human civilization. Some of their projects include the Rosetta Project, the Long Bet Project, and the Clock of the Long Now, all facilitated by Rose.

Rose graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Industrial Design in 01995 (The People of the Long Now keep track of time on a ten thousand year scale to account for the responsibility of 10,000 years in the future). Shortly after graduating, Rose joined efforts with the founding technologists of the Long Now Foundation and quickly became Clock Project Manager of the Clock of the Long Now. The timepiece, which is being engineered to keep track of time for the next ten thousand years, will be a monument to longevity and resilience in design. Some of their more recent projects include The Organizational Continuity Project, which explores how some of the longest running organizations have survived for centuries and hopes to distill those learnings into a book, which will be led by Rose. The PanLex is a non-profit that aims to reduce language related barriers to human rights, information and opportunities by creating one of the largest lexical translation databases where the emphasis is on translating individual words, not just whole sentences.

Rose is also the Principal at Rose Futures where he consults on select projects in futures, robotics, technology and organizational continuity, and the founder of the Interval, a time-themed bar in SF which is home to The Long Now Foundation.

How can we convince people to care about long-term investments? On Social Design Insights, we sat down with Alexander Rose, who reminded us: “to look both ways, not only to the next 10,000 years, but also to the past 10,000.”


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2018 is "Alright With Me" by Reggie Young from his album "Young Street."The break music for this episode is "Time" by Pink Floyd from their album "Dark Side of the Moon."