The Clock of the Long Now is a proposed mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years, to get people thinking about the future, the l-o-n-g future. It’s a problem-solving thought-project with time as the enemy — how do you make a clock that runs 10,000 years and protect it from wars, the environment, etc.? The more one thinks about these questions, the more they imagine civilization lasting for millenia to come. It’s a “counterpoint to today’s ‘faster/cheaper’ mind set and [serves to] promote ‘slower/better’ thinking.” From one of the founders of the project:
When I was a child, people used to talk about what would happen by the year 2000. For the next thirty years they kept talking about what would happen by the year 2000, and now no one mentions a future date at all. The future has been shrinking by one year per year for my entire life. I think it is time for us to start a long-term project that gets people thinking past the mental barrier of an ever-shortening future. I would like to propose a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.
– Computer scientist Daniel Hillis