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Re-blogged from Reinvent.Net
Fifty years ago the Whole Earth Catalog burst onto the cultural scene and helped set in motion waves of innovation that reverberated through the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of America – and that continue to this day. The one-and-only Stewart Brand was the creative force behind that unique media publication and cultural phenomenon and we’re honored that he’s going to talk about the Whole Earth’s intellectual and entrepreneurial legacy at the June gathering of What’s Now: San Francisco.
In 1968 the publication of the first Whole Earth Catalog with the first photo of the whole earth seen from space started to bring coherence to an emerging worldview that broke with 20th century models and pointed to a very different decentralized, sustainable and holistic future empowered by new kinds of tools and technologies. Over the years that strange amalgam of magazine, tools catalog and how-to book inspired a generation who took that worldview and applied it in numerous fields. Steve Jobs famously credited the Whole Earth Catalog and Stewart Brand with inspiring his vision for Apple – and some of today’s young tech founders still are inspired by it and come to Stewart for advice. But the Whole Earth also made a big impact on the environmental movement, the early internet, the maker movement, organic farming, architecture and city planning, health and wellness, and the list goes on.
No one arguably has done more to stimulate innovation in so many directions over so many years in the Bay Area than Stewart Brand. The Whole Earth Catalog was simply one act in a long line of innovative organizations he has helped found or new ideas he has helped introduce. The legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog can get tangled up in the many other projects that Stewart has been involved with in the ensuing five decades: the first online community at The WELL, the pioneering futures think tank Global Business Network, The Long Now Foundation building a 10,000 year clock with help from Jeff Bezos, or his latest Revive and Restore, working to reverse extinction. (For more on Stewart, just Google him or watch one of his six – yes, six – TED talks.)
Join us on the evening of June 7th as we hold a conversation with Stewart that lays out some of the strands of the legacy of the Whole Earth Catalog at our What’s Now: San Francisco event, done in collaboration with Capgemini at their Applied Innovation Exchange. We expect to also draw into the conversation some prominent people who were impacted by the Whole Earth Catalog and consider themselves as part of the legacy. To what extent did the Whole Earth Catalog or its derivatives impact their thinking or inspire the formation of their own entrepreneurial efforts? As is our custom, we’ll make sure to open up the conversation to all those who attend. Mark your calendars for June 7 for what is sure to be a truly memorable evening. And if you can’t make it, or if we run out of room, we’ll be live-streaming it for all to see.
Capgemini and their Applied Innovation Exchange is our partner for this series. This event is free but requires advance registration through an invite. If you are interested in attending, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t attend in person, the event will be streamed here starting at 6:30pm PT.
We also talked about Stewart before in The New Communalists and The Greatest Cultural Movement of Our Time. If there is an award for mastermind of Silicon Valley, I nominate him. Here’s what he said about Burning Man:
Burning Man, they have surpassed in every way the various things we were attempting with the Acid Tests and the Trips Festival, Burning Man has realized with such depth and thoroughness and ongoing originality and ability to scale and minimalist rules, but enough rules that you can function, and all the things we were farting around with, Larry Harvey has really pulled off. I don’t think that would have come to pass without going through whatever that spectrum of the ’60s was, the prism of the ’60s, the spectrum of bright colors that we espoused for a while. It all got exacerbated by the Internet and sequence of computer-related booms, but I think it flavored a whole lot of the basic nature of Burning Man. Its Hellenism was replaced by Hellenistic Period, driven out by Alexandria and that was basically better. I think that’s to some extent true in this case.
Stanford counterculture professor Fred Turner (a Burner) asked Stewart about Self-
Stewart gets a few mentions in our look last year on the 50th anniversary of the Human Be-in at the Bay Area’s counter-cultural legacy: