Stewart Brand on Starting Things and Staying Curious | Conversations with Tyler
Stewart Brand, a pioneer in various movements, shares his insights on maintaining curiosity, the importance of long-term thinking, and the potential of technology.
He discusses his experiences during the Cold War, his views on architecture, and his fascination with Japanese culture.
Skepticism Towards Doomsday Scenarios
Brand expresses skepticism towards various doomsday scenarios, such as Y2K and peak oil.
He believes that humanity and biology are incredibly resilient and robust, and encourages a sense of perspective and realism when confronted with claims of impending global catastrophe.
When I was optimistic about stuff, I turned out to be right. When I was pessimistic about stuff, I turned out to be wrong often enough that it has kept optimism alive. – Stewart Brand
Human civilization has earned and needs the perspective of [the long now] as a foundation for our thinking about everything. – Stewart Brand
Whole Earth Catalog’s Design
The design of the Whole Earth Catalog was influenced by Brand’s admiration for the straightforward, honest style of the L.L. Bean catalog.
He used the same Windsor typeface and adopted a similar pragmatic and succinct approach to reviewing items.
End of the Whole Earth Catalog
Brand ended the Whole Earth Catalog due to the pressure of constantly improving and expanding it.
He didn’t consider selling the rights as he felt the catalog was a personal project that he needed to see through to the end.
Experience with LSD
Brand shares his experience with LSD, which he first took as part of a therapeutic model in the early 60s.
While his first experience was not pleasant, he had transformative experiences later on.
San Francisco as Hippie Culture’s Center
Brand discusses why San Francisco, rather than Los Angeles, became the center of hippie culture.
He attributes this to San Francisco’s history of boom and bust cycles, its intellectual environment fostered by two significant universities, and its reputation as a place where people go to be happy rather than successful.
Connection with the Grateful Dead
Brand talks about his connection with the Grateful Dead, whom he got to know during the Trips Festival that he organized.
He mentions that the band took over the three-day show, leading to a long-lasting relationship.
Concept of the ‘Long View’
Brand discusses his interest in the concept of the ‘long view’ and the work of the Long Now Foundation, which aims to promote long-term thinking.
Despite his own career being marked by transient projects, Brand believes in the importance of focusing on the slow, powerful aspects of society, such as nature and culture.
Influence of Science Fiction
Brand discusses the influence of science fiction on his thinking.
He praises the genre for its ability to explore future scenarios in creative ways, and mentions several authors whose work he admires.
He sees science fiction as a valuable tool for thinking about the future and generating innovative ideas.