What Books (Humanities or Technical) Merit Saving if Civilization Collapses?
What does choosing the 3,000 books most important to human civilization teach us about our core values?
Executive Director of The Long Now Foundation Alexander Rose is helping build a library – not just any library, but a collection of the 3,000 or so books that would be most vital to restarting civilization after its collapse. The Long Now Foundation, which, in its own words, “hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common”, isn’t necessarily expecting a collapse, Rose explained, but views such a collection as a type of litmus test for which books they believe can – and should – stand the test of time. Rose described the collection as “highly living.” About 1,500 books are currently housed at The Interval, in the Long Now library in San Francisco, and the foundation is continuing to collect books. Rose envisions that once the library is filled, the foundation will have events where members can both add to and subtract from this collection, while making their case for each book. The books fall into four categories:
1) Literary canon
2) Past & future
3) Science fiction
4) Mechanics of civilization
Long Now’s website features lists created by various members: David Brin, Bruce Sterling and Daniel Suarez’s lists can be found here, and Neal Stephenson’s list can be found here. The foundation’s other projects include a 10,000 year clock currently being built at monument scale in West Texas, and a cataloguing of every world language on the smallest microfiche in the world.