How many digital technologies, infrastructures and businesses will be around 1000 years from now?

Most of these old businesses are, like Ichiwa, small, family-run enterprises that deal in traditional goods and services. But some are among Japan’s most famous companies, including Nintendo, which got its start making playing cards 131 years ago, and the soy sauce brand Kikkoman, which has been around since 1917.

This morning I came across a story about a Japanese Mochi business that supposedly has been operating for 1,020 years

It got me thinking about time.

More specifically how our individual and collective perspectives on time affect our discussions and decisions around technologies in our lives, our work, society, planet…

It took me back to a series of conversations @thomasviscom @noemi were having in 2014 on how our individual perspectives on time affect our work, health and well-being. We discussed the work of psychologist Prof. Philip Zambardo: His research on the psychology of time perspective focuses on “the ways in which individuals develop temporal orientations that parcel the flow of personal experience into the mental categories, or time zones, of Past, Present, and Future, and also a Transcendental Future (beliefs about a future life after one’s death).

He is especially interested in temporal biases in which these learned cognitive categories (Past, Present and Future) are not “balanced” according to situations, contexts and demands, but one or another are utilized excessively or underutilized".

Ok so what does this have to do with future of the internet stuff?

I’m not sure. Could just be mental chemtrail but it interests me, so I thought I’d share - see if anyone else is interested in playing with it…

When it comes to discussions that involve internet ( infrastructure, technologies, businesses etc), I often get a feeling of being stuck in strange now-space where everything is supposed to be moving fast, but is somehow not moving at all.

I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me about this till @hugi brought me along to a fascinating lecture at the Long Now foundation by an archeologist who had explored the evolution of the ancient silk road (Hugi can describe it better).

Hanging out hung out with archeologists like @sander explodes open the context because things look so very different from a distance of 10,000 years.

The choice of what time perspective we adopt by default is not neutral. It encodes a whole set of values.

In the discussion around what path Europe should take into the digital future, the choice seems to be between authoritarian surveillance-enabled control (China) or Feral capitalism (US).

Perhaps it is rather a time perspective question? Is there a European perspective on time?

Do feel free to share your own thoughts in a comment below! It’s hard to think about this stuff solo…


That was a very fruitful seminar indeed! It added a lot of depth to a range of our projects - from the OCI Lab to the Plato Project.

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@nadia, thanks for the reminder. This kind of conversation doesn’t come naturally in our fast-paced time. Thinking about the future always involves some degree of fantasizing.
Take the debt crisis - debt is a projection deep into the future. It assumes that the debt holder will still be around, and he will be able to service, etc. All that is a fantasy. Same with the nuclear waste people we have been talking about. At the heart of it, people seek an advantage in the present by outsourcing a problem into the future. We would fare better if we were able to turn this thinking around. I mean, U-turn. Which would be something along the lines of:
“What can I do now, how do I have to behave in the present so that future generations don’t have to solve the problems I cause now?”
I read somewhere that many Native American tribes have cultivated this kind of thinking.

Here’s the 7th generation principle

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@nadia, the other aspect that you describe is the way we FEEL in these times of “polar inertia”, which Paul Virilio has theorized in many of his works, but what he claims is that our communication technologies reduce distance to zero, which is why the “instant” (opposite of distant) is making the concept of past - present - future obsolete, at least it does so in our perception. Time is coupled to space, you travel a distance at a certain speed and there is a duration for that. If the distance is reduced to zero, you - in principle - “travel” at maximum speed, that means “polar inertia”.


super interesting, have you seen a visualisation of the concept?

start here


An important discussion. On this notion of ‘time’ it reminded me of the years that I was trying to understand what was going on. and wrote it down as a kind of diary in NOEMA: This unawareness of the artificial, almost incredible , character of Techné – the Aristotelian term for technique, skill – is only then broken when it fails us:

“Central London was brought to a standstill in the rush hour on July 25 2002 when 800 sets of traffic lights failed at the same time – in effect locking signals on red.” [5]

Every new set of techniques brings forth its own literacy: The Aristotelian protests against introducing pencil writing, may seem rather incredible now, at the time it meant nothing less than a radical change in the structures of power distribution. Overnight, a system of thought and set of grammar; an oral literacy dependant on a functionality of internal information visualization techniques and recall, was made redundant because the techniques could be externalised. Throughout Western civilization the history of memory externalisation runs parallel with the experienced disappearance of its artificial, man made, character. An accidental disappearance, however much intrinsic to our experience, that up till now has not been deliberate:

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it.” [6]


Ones that manage nuclear materials have to last. I bet some of the operating systems and code that manage all the components of the nuclear fuel cycle (for power and for weapons) from mining to waste, will set longevity records…should keep some programmers working until old age like you see with the few who still know how to work COBOL and FORTRAN.

I reached out to the Long Now foundation to see if they had any material on the topic as they seem to be thinking about this kind of thing what with that 10,000 year clock etc. Do you think we could do an interview with stewart on the topic?

I cold never predict what he would or would not do. I guess it depends on his schedule and whether or not the subject interests him. He isn’t promoting a book right now so he is less available than he would be. He still might do it if it was structured in a way that makes clear how it will go. But I really have no idea.

Kevin Kelly might be up for it though.

would you be up for testing the waters with Kelly?

Give me a clearer, more specific picture of what you have in mind and I will ask him.

Here is a product, or ones like it, that I hope won’t be around then, but probably will. This gets my vote for scariest new product: the Amazon Halo Band that tells you not just that you are too fat, but criticizes your moods when you speak. Big Brother gets a toe in the door with this kind of thing.