PLL project

Long Now Exhibition

In a time in history when our lives are dictated by short increments like pay periods, fiscal years and instant messages, the Playful Learning Lab collaborated with the Long Now Foundation to showcase projects that broaden perspective to long-term history. The foundation blends the modern world with creative project design to promote responsible long-term thinking and learning and to elongate the time we think of as “now.”

Together with the Long Now, we put together our exhibition, “Designed to Last: A Look at the Projects of the Long Now Foundation.” On display was a Rosetta Disk, portions of the 10,000 Year Clock prototypes and a UST library based on the Long Now’s Library for Civilization.  

The Rosetta Disk is a handheld nickel circle, laser-inscribed with microscopic translations of over 13,000 pages of information in over 1,500 human languages. Read through a microscope and resistant to blemishing, its physically etched inscriptions help it to outlive the transience of digitally stored information.

The 10,000 Year Clock is a clock currently being installed inside a mountain in western Texas. (There are plans and a site for a second clock atop an eastern-Nevada mountain, appropriately surrounded by 5,000-year-old bristlecone pines, some of the longest-lived organisms on Earth). The clock is hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years, and programmed to occasionally chime a melody but always a melody different than it has ever played before. The clock prompts people to ponder notions of generations and millennia. If a clock is ticking for 10,000 years, shouldn’t we make sure our civilization does too? Our exhibition at UST included a solar synchronizer, a time cam, core samples from the clock build site, and more.

Based on the Long Now’s 10,000 Year Library, our UST Library of Civilization project aimed to preserve the importance of libraries, the role of which is being slowly extinguished by technology. Each book on the bookshelf included a bookmark telling which UST staff/faculty member suggested the book and why, and at the end of the exhibition, UST students were invited to choose a book to take home.

Since our lab motto is "Play Well With Others," we used the opening event as a chance to bring in some of our collaborators: We had exhibition-related food made by Chef Eric Rivera and an orrery cake by Chef Kate Sigel, music/tech demos by tenor Shahzore Shah, custom serviceware by undergrads in the lab and Squishy circuits.