Long Now Foundation’s 16-hour Longplayer and Long Conversation Event in San Francisco

Longplayer is an original musical composition by Jem Finer which has been playing for over a decade and is designed to play out for 1000 years (at which point it will begin again); Finer is an artist, computer scientist, and an original member of The Pogues. The long-term mindset that this work embodies, is very much akin to the mission of the San Francisco-based Long Now Foundation, who strive to promote long-term thinking and foster long-term responsibility (full disclosure: my significant other works for Long Now, and I volunteer there, and I think they are awesome. I also think the Pogues are awesome, fwiw). Not surprisingly then, Long Now is bringing Longplayer to San Francisco this weekend.

This Saturday, 10/16/02010, Jem Finer and a small group of performers will play 1000 minutes of Longplayer live in SF, exactly in sync with the ongoing performance that you can hear online. The players include an impressive roster of musicians from the Bay Area and beyond. The Longplayer event is produced and sponsored by Long Now.

The musical performance will take place at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and run for 16.6 hours (1000 minutes) from 7am-11:40pm. The second portion of the event called The Long Conversation will overlap timewise with part of the Longplayer performance, but it will happen at the nearby Contemporary Jewish Museum.

The Long Conversation features a series of rotating conversations amongst an eclectic selection of artists, authors, futurists, technologists, entrepeneurs, and leaders of organizations ranging from NASA Ames Research Center to Wikipedia. This event runs for 6 hours on Saturday from 3 to 9pm–the speaker schedule is below.

Participants in Long Conversation include Danny Hillis, John Perry Barlow, Saul Griffith, Jem Finer, Stewart Brand, and Violet Blue (who is a Laughing Squid guest-blogger).

Throughout the Long Conversation, the art/design group Sosolimited will be conducting a live data analysis of the content of the discussions, and projecting a visualization of these data for the audience to see.

The words of all the participants were matched to lexical databases, and sorted by topic, tense, and certitude. We displayed realtime statistics of all the speakers and used a dozen or so different transformational modes throughout the night.

Below is a description and a video of an earlier, similar Sosolimited project…


Actor, nerd, poet, producer, writer mikl-em made his name short so you wouldn't have to. In addition to his blog you can find his writing in "Hi Fructose" magazine and witness him almost life-sized in various plays at The Dark Room Theater in SF's Mission district.

He tends to write about theater, humor, San Francisco culture and history, and stuff that's just plain weird. He thanks Scott for sharing the keys to the Laughing Squid virtual HQ and promises to uphold whatever it is that the mirthful cephalopod would prefer to be uplifted.