Long Now “Manual for Civilization” project begins with Icarii Heath Rezabek as Intern

Icarii Heath Rezabek (FarMaker Interstellar Speed Sketch Contest; Starship Congress 2013 Outreach & Collaborations Coordinator) shares with us an update on a project with the Long Now Foundation, based in San Francisco, CA.

The Manual for Civilization is a core collection of materials (3,500 volumes initially) meant to reflect a cross-section of the interests of Long Now membership, and to answer the question “What books would you want on hand if you were to restart civilization?”

This question is posed mainly to stir up thoughts and priorities.  Yet it’s a question that might be asked by interstellar explorers, and that has been explored by Heath Rezabek in his work on the Vessel proposal.  Vessel is a project which seeks to specify an open framework for establishing comprehensive archival sites of Earth’s cultural, scientific, and biological record, both for humanity’s future stability and as inspiration for future interstellar archival payloads.

Because of these interests, Heath has been very interested in the Manual for Civilization project since hearing of it.  The Long Now Foundation’s projects in promotion of long term thinking — through concrete efforts such as the construction of a working 10,000 year clock and the creation of a Rosetta Disk of human languages, now aboard the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft — show a level of initiative and drive that should seem familiar to interstellar advocates.

Last year, Heath applied for an Internship with the Long Now Foundation, and was awarded that role.  Since then, he has been working with Long Now Foundation staff and members to launch the Manual for Civilization project in earnest.  Finally this has happened, with the opening of a crowdsourcing platform used by Heath in prior Starship Congress work, called AllOurIdeas.  A customized build by Long Now has harnessed this tool to help parse bibliographic metadata and prioritize thousands of book and other media submissions for potential inclusion in the Manual for Civilization core collection.

Heath continues to seek sustainable opportunities to work towards these long term concerns, and welcomes this step in that direction. He is glad to see the Manual for Civilization effort reach a public milestone, and is proud to have so much of his commitment to long term thinking bound up with his hopes for humanity’s interstellar future.