Skip to main content?

81 | The Resiliency of Right Now

Zander 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

In an era defined by climate change and ultra-rapid urbanization, designers are often cajoled into thinking about their designs in minutes, hours or years. How fast can this design be done? How quickly can it be redesigned? The Long Now Foundation encourages us to think differently. It asks us what good design looks like when we start to consider ourselves as part of great continuum, stretching 20,000 years.

Alexander Rose is the Executive Director at The Long Now Foundation, a SF based non-profit which encourages design that addresses long-term thinking. 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. Visitors will be able to interact with the giant, two-hundred foot clock, which is being built underground in the U.S. state of Texas. Prototypes of various parts of the clock are on display at The Interval, a time-themed bar in SF founded by Rose and 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."