For the fourth time, I’m re-reading Anathem. And as such, I’ve been pulled back into thinking about (and sort-of in) that Long Now-type thinking, a kind of concept that holds a standing philosophical booking in a dusty back-room of my brain.
Long Now philosophically seems to suppose that we try more often to counter-balance our day-to-day, moment-to-moment way of interacting with modern reality by contemplating time scales larger than we are normally accustomed to considering. This kind of thing tends to push timescales of thousands or tens of thousands of years, dwarfing human life-spans and even the collective generations of recorded human history.
I’m not quite ready for those kinds of timescales, but it occurred to me that it might be interesting to consider starting my own little blog project — an experiment and a challenge, if you will — around the ideas of the Long Now. See, in the world of blogs, social media, tweets, status updates, and mobile computing, ‘quick’ seems to be king. And that’s fine. But consider a counter-balance to that idea: what would it mean to blog on a longer timescale? What would be the consequences, impacts, and outcomes on your writing if you knew your post wouldn’t appear for a week? A month? A year?
I’m curious. After all, I often read back to posts in this very blog that are a year old and I’m sometimes amused, sometimes aghast, or sometimes feel inclined to just delete them (though I very, very, very rarely follow through) because of how much my ideas or style have changed.
Thus, a Longer Now Blog Challenge for myself and for anyone who thinks they might like to experience a bit of a longer now than is normally associated with daily blogging: Follow these steps (I’m going to) and leave me a comment to let me know if you’re following along — or, better yet, participating.
Step 1) Pick a day to start. You’ll need to be able to write a fairly substantial blog post for each of five days in a row — and none of those posts will immediately appear in your blog, so these are posts that will be above and beyond what you want to appear in your regular day-to-day writing and what your audience might be expecting of you (though, you could blog about the experience and fill that quota.)
There is just one rule to follow in writing your posts: don’t explain in the post when specifically the post was written. Each post should appear on the pre-determined published date as if it was written and published on that date. So consider each topic, each word, each thought on a time-scale bigger this moment, on a longer now… (edit: though you can discuss the project itself as a basis for writing the posts, just no “this was written X months before your reading it” kind of thing.)
Step 2) Day One: Write a post as you normally would. This post can be about anything, of course, but your audience is now a week older and wiser than you. Set the publication date for exactly one week — seven days — from when you would have otherwise hit the publish button.
Step 3) Day Two: Write a post as you normally would. Again, write about anything but remember that your audience is now two weeks older and wiser than you. Set the publication date for exactly two weeks — fourteen days — from when you would have otherwise hit the publish button.
Step 4) Day Three: Write a post as you normally would. This is a third post on the topic of your choice, but your audience is now one whole month older and wiser than you. Set the publication date for exactly one month — the same date-day plus one month — from when you would have otherwise hit the publish button.
Step 5) Day Four: Write a post as you normally would. This is yet another post, but of a topic chosen even more carefully as but your audience is now six months — half a year — older and wiser than you. Set the publication date for exactly six months — the same date-day plus six months — from when you would have otherwise hit the publish button.
Step 6) Day Five: Write a post as you normally would. Write one last post, but of a topic most carefully considered because your audience is now one whole year older and wiser than you. Set the publication date for exactly one year — the same date-day and month plus one year — from when you would have otherwise hit the publish button.
Step 7) Forget about the posts. Don’t touch them. Don’t edit. Don’t change anything.
Step 8) Day Three-Hundred and Seventy (or thereabouts): Write one more post reflecting on your experience with the Longer Now Blog Challenge, your thoughts, pros-and-cons, whatever… only after all the posts have published.
And remember, comment below to share your experiences playing along. I’m interested to know what people think about this kind of long term thinking in the context of a short-term biased medium. I plan to write my posts between October 24th through 28th (ie. next week) and publish them… well, starting Halloween and beyond (according to the schedule.)