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Filmed on Tuesday January 27, 02015
Stewart Brand co-founded The WELL, Global Business Network, The Long Now Foundation, and Revive & Restore. He was the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog and author of The Media Lab, How Buildings Learn, The Clock of the Long Now, and Whole Earth Discipline.
Paul Saffo is a forecaster with over two decades experience exploring the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He teaches forecasting at Stanford University and chairs the Future Studies and Forecasting track at Singularity University.
Stewart Brand and Paul Saffo will discuss the Pace Layers framework for how a healthy society functions, which Stewart introduced in his book The Clock of Long Now (01999). More than fifteen years after its debut, this concept continues to be influential and inspiring. From January 02015.
The Pace Layers idea is illustrated by a simple diagram showing six layers which function simultaneously at different speeds within society. They range from Nature (the slowest) to Fashion (the fastest, shown at the top). As the layers progress, Stewart proposed, their differing speeds help make a society more adaptable. Cultures can be robust and healthy precisely because these layers come into conflict. Each level should be allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by livelier levels above.
Though originally conceived as a tool for thinking about society, Pace Layers has had broad influence as experts in other disciplines have applied its framework to their areas including consulting and systems thinking. Jeff Veen of True Ventures (formerly Adobe, Adaptive Path, and Wired) recently said that Pace Layers provides a vocabulary to think about the stacked layers of contemporary design. Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote, has called the Pace Layers chapter in The Clock of the Long Now “the most profound thing I've ever read.”
Today in a networked world where everything seems to be about speed, awareness of the slower layers and perspective on how all layers interact can give insight into what the future may hold.
I propose six significant levels of pace and size in the working structure of a robust and adaptable civilization. [...] In a healthy society each level is allowed to operate at its own pace, safely sustained by the slower levels below and kept invigorated by the livelier levels above.
Condensed ideas about long-term thinking summarized by Stewart Brand
(with Kevin Kelly, Alexander Rose and Paul Saffo) and a foreword by Brian Eno.
David and Abby Rumsey • Kim Polese • The Kaphan Foundation • Garrett Gruener • Scorpio Rising Fund • Peter Baumann • Brian Eno • Greg Stikeleather • Cameo Wood • Ping Fu • Peter Schwartz • Lawrence Wilkinson • Ken and Maddy Dychtwald • Future Ventures • Ken and Jackie Broad • AtoB • WHH Foundation • Stewart Brand and Ryan Phelan • Jackson Square Partners Foundation • The Long Now Members
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