Stewart Brand

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

Stewart Brand, an alumni of the Merry Pranksters [1], is best known as the founder, editor, and publisher of The Whole Earth Catalog (1968-1985; National Book Award, 1972). [2]

Brand is the founder of The WELL computer teleconferencing system and author of "The Clock of the Long Now", "How Buildings Learn", and "The Media Lab" [3], as well as the CoEvolution Quarterly (1975-1985).

Brand is a co-founder of the Global Business Network (GBN) (1988) [4]; the The Long Now Foundation (1995) [5], "whose core project is the construction of a 10,000 year clock called The Clock of the Long Now"; the ALL Species Foundation (2001) [6], "to find and document every life form on Earth" [7]; and the Long Bets Foundation (2001), "an arena for competitive, accountable predictions" and "to foster better long-term thinking." [8][9]

Brand served as a member of the board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (1990-1994). [10]

Criticism

Nuclear power

"I have changed my mind from being mildly anti-nuclear to mildly pro-nuclear because carbon dioxide is now the most dangerous pollution and it is endangering the natural environment," Brand told the Contra Costa Times in 2008. [6]

"There were legitimate reasons to worry about nuclear power, but now that we know about the threat of climate change, we have to put the risks in perspective," Brand told the New York Times. "Sure, nuclear waste is a problem, but the great thing about it is you know where it is and you can guard it. The bad thing about coal waste is that you don’t know where it is and you don’t know what it’s doing. The carbon dioxide is in everybody’s atmosphere." [11]

In an August 2007 action alert, the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted that Brand has financial ties to the nuclear industry, through the Global Business Network (GBN): [12]

GBN numbers, among the 192 clients named on its website, more than a dozen corporations and governmental agencies involved in the production or promotion of nuclear energy: General Electric, Bechtel, Duke Power, Siemens-Westinghouse, Fluor, Electric Power Research Institute, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Électricité de France, Iberdrola, Vattenfall, Sydkraft (now E.ON Sweden) and Sandia National Labratories. Some of these, including GE, Bechtel, Duke Power and Westinghouse, are receiving government subsidies to develop the next generation of nuclear power plants.

On September 14, 2007, Brand's Long Now Foundation sponsored a pro-nuclear power event in San Francisco titled "Power to Save the World," featuring Gwyneth Cravens and Richard "Rip" Anderson. [13] In an account of the event, blogger Jennifer Berry wrote, "Nuclear energy is green? So say the experts, Dr Gwyneth Cravens and Dr. Richard Anderson. ... According to the experts, when comparing the environmental advantages of nuclear energy over coal, there is no doubt that nuclear energy is a safe and viable alternative." [14]

Profiles

According to his profile posted at WELL.com, Stewart Brand was born December 14, 1938, in Rockford, Illinois. The following is as posted on Brand's website, current to 2001:

  • 1954-56, Phillips Exeter Academy, NH.
  • 1960, Graduated in Biology, Stanford University.
  • 1960-62, Active duty, U.S. Army officer. Qualified Airborne and took up skydiving. Taught basic infantry training and worked as photojournalist out of the Pentagon.
  • 1962, Studied design at San Francisco Art Institute and photography at San Francisco State; participated in legal LSD study at International Foundation for Advanced Study, Menlo Park, California.
  • 1963-66, Researched, photographed, designed, and performed multi-media event, "America Needs Indians." Spent time on Warm Springs, Blackfoot, Navajo, Hopi, Papago, and other Indian reservations.
  • 1964, Did research, collection, and writing for IBM's and Gordon Ashby's "Astronomia," an exhibit on the history of astronomy at the Hayden Planetarium, New York.
  • 1964-66, was a key member of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, organizing public Acid Tests and initiating thousands in California to LSD. Kesey's was arrested for majrijuana possession at Brand's Vallejo Street apartment, and jailed.
  • 1966, Designed and organized the "Trips Festival," a 3-day rock-light-LSD watershed event in the counter culture at Longshoreman's Hall, San Francisco.
  • 1966, Conceived and sold buttons which read, "Why Haven't We Seen A Photograph of the Whole Earth Yet?" Legend has it that this accelerated NASA's making good color photos of Earth from distant space during the Apollo program and that the ecology movement took shape in 1968-9 partially as a result of those photos.
  • 1966, Did sound and doorways for "We Are All 1" at Riverside Museum, New York City, with USCO (an artist/engineer team based in Garnerville, NY).
  • 1966, Wrote "The Native American Church Meeting" for Psychedelic Review #9.
  • 1966, Designed and organized "Whatever It Is," an all-night multi-stage event at San Francisco State Experimental College.
  • 1966, Received Acid Test Diploma from Neal Cassady at Acid Test Graduation (see Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test).
  • 1966, Married Lois Jennings, Ottawa Indian who grew up in Washington, DC.
  • 1967, Designed and organized "World War IV," public war games at San Francisco State College.
  • 1967-69, Designed and performed multi-media "WAR/GOD."
  • 1968-72, Founded, edited, and published the original Whole Earth Catalog.
  • 1969, Designed and organized "Liferaft Earth," a week-long crowded public fast dramatizing overpopulation, starring the Hog Farm.
  • 1969, Helped design and participated in Doug Engelbart's demonstration of "Augmented Human Intellect" at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco. It has been described as "the mother of all demoes," since it inspired much of what was to come in personal computers.
  • 1971, Designed and co-organized with Scott Beach the "Demise Party," which celebrated the end of Whole Earth Catalog with 1,500 guests at the new Exploratorium in San Francisco, and turned over $20,000 in cash to the audience to do good with. Debate lasted till dawn.
  • 1972, Received National Book Award for The Last Whole Earth Catalog, Random House. 1.5 million copies sold. (All editions sales were over 2.5 million; a Millennium Whole Earth Catalog came out in 1994, with a foreword by me.)
  • 1972, Founded Point Foundation, which gave away $1 million in three years to assorted effective individuals. Point was the non-profit foundation which ran all the Whole Earth activities through 2001.
  • 1973, Divorced Lois Jennings.
  • 1973, Designed and organized "The New Games Tournament," which resulted in two books, New Games and More New Games, by Andrew Fluegelman.
  • 1974, Authored Two Cybernetic Frontiers, Random House—on Gregory Bateson and cutting-edge computer science. It had the first use of the term "personal computer" in print and was the first book to report on computer hackers. The book expanded on a 1972 article for Rolling Stone called "Fanatic Life & Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums," and a 1973 article for Harpers titled "Unbinding—Conversations with Meta-naturalist Gregory Bateson."
  • 1974, Edited and published the Whole Earth Epilog, Penguin.
  • 1974-85, Founded, edited, and published CoEvolution Quarterly. (It continued to 2001 as Whole Earth Magazine.)
  • 1976, Edited Space Colonies and co-edited Soft Tech (with J. Baldwin), Penguin.
  • 1977-79, Advisor to Governor of California Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
  • 1980-81, Edited and published The Next Whole Earth Catalog, Random House (peak edition)
  • 1982-83, Founded Uncommon Courtesy: School of Compassionate Skills, which gave sessions on such subjects as "Creative Philanthropy," "Business as Service," "Street Saint Skills."
  • 1982-83, On faculty of School of Management and Strategic Studies, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, La Jolla, California.
  • 1982, Purchased a 65-foot tugboat, the "Mirene" and have lived there ever since, in Sausalito.
  • 1983, Married Ryan Phelan (then known as Patty). She founds and co-founds things too—"Savvy,"; Planetree; Phelan's; Direct Medical Knowledge; All Species Inventory.
  • 1983-85, Editor-in-Chief, Whole Earth Software Catalog, Doubleday. A magazine I founded, Whole Earth Software Review, failed conspicuously.
  • 1984, Founded The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link), a computer teleconference system for the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • 1984, Initiated and co-organized (with Kevin Kelly and Ryan Phelan) "The Hackers' Conference," which became a TV special by Fabrice Florin, broadcast nationally. Since 1986 it is an annual event.
  • 1986, Co-editor with Art Kleiner, News That Stayed News, North Point Press—anthology of greatest pieces from CoEvolution.
  • 1986, Visiting Scientist, The Media Laboratory, MIT.
  • 1986-89, Consultant with Group Planning, Royal Dutch/Shell, London.
  • 1987, Author, The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT, Viking Penguin.
  • 1987-89, Organizer of private conference series on Learning in Complex Systems sponsored by strategic planners at Royal Dutch/Shell, Volvo, and AT&T.
  • 1988- , Co-founder of Global Business Network with Peter Schwartz, Jay Ogilvy, Napier Collyns, and Lawrence Wilkinson; founded and ran the "GBN Book Club" from 1988 to 2000. GBN explores global futures and business strategy for 90 multinationals such as Ford, Bechtel, Shell, Morgan Stanley, Hewlett Packard, Swedbank, Dupont, Federal Express, along with government clients such as DARPA.
  • 1988, Author of "Indians and the Counterculture, 1960s-1970s," in History of Indian-White Relations, Vol. 4 in the authoritative Handbook of North American Indians, Smithsonian Institution.
  • 1989- , Member, Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute, the interdisciplinary center studying the sciences of complexity.
  • 1989, Received Golden Gadfly Lifetime Achievement Award from Media Alliance, San Francisco.
  • 1990-1994, Member of Board of Directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization which supports civil rights and responsibilities in electronic media.
  • 1990- , Advisor to Ecotrust, Portland-based preservers of temperate rain forest from Alaska to San Francisco.
  • 1994, Author, How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built, Viking-Penguin (US) and Orion (UK).
  • 1995- , Co-founder with Danny Hillis of The Long Now Foundation to foster long-term responsibility. The core projects are building a 10,000-year Clock (designed by Hillis) and tools and services toward a 10,000-year Library (such as the Rosetta Disk). Also on the board are Peter Schwartz, Brian Eno, Douglas Carlston, Esther Dyson, Paul Saffo, Michael Keller, and Kevin Kelly. Serving as president.
  • 1996-1997, Writer and presenter, "How Buildings Learn," 6-part TV series for the BBC. Aired in July-August 1997 on BBC2. Series directed by James Runcie, music by Brian Eno.
  • 1999, Author, The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility, Basic Books (US) and Orion (UK). A mosaic of essays exploring the meaning and uses of a 10,000-year "now."
  • 2001, Co-founder with Kevin Kelly and Ryan Phelan of the All Species Inventory---to find and document all of life on Earth in 25 years.
  • 2001- , Co-founder with Kevin Kelly of the Long Bets Foundation, to foster accountability in long term thinking.
  • 2006, Brought John Rendon to San Francisco for a rare public address, promoting him and his CIA and Pentagon-funded work in the war on terror. [15]

Published works

  • "The Clock of the Long Now. Time and Responsibility: The Ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer", Basic Books, April 2000 (Paperback) ISBN 0465007805 / Orion Books/Phoenix Press, March 2, 2000, ISBN 0753810123.
  • With Peter Warshall (editors), "Original Whole Earth Catalog, Special 30th Anniversary Issue", Whole Earth, December 1998 (Paperback) ISBN 1892907054.
  • "How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built", Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition, October 1, 1995 (Paperback) ISBN 0140139966.
  • "The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog", 1994.
  • "The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at M.I.T.", Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition September 3, 1988 (Paperback) ISBN 0140097015.
  • "The Essential Whole Earth Catalog", 1986.
  • "Whole earth software catalog", Quantum Press/Doubleday, 1984 (Paperback) ISBN 0385191669.
  • "The Next Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools", Random House Inc.; 2nd Rev/Up edition, November 1981 (Paperback) ISBN 0394707761.
  • "Updated Last Whole Earth Catalog", Viking Press, September 1975 (Hardcover) ISBN 0140616268.
  • "Whole Earth Epilog", Viking Press, November 1974, (Hardcover) ISBN 0140616152.
  • "Last Whole Earth Catalog", 1971.

Contact information

Stewart Brand
3E Gate 5 Road
Sausalito, CA 94965
FAX: 415 331-6123
Email: sb AT gbn.org

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Ecotrust Board & Council, Ecotrust, accessed December 7, 2007.
  2. Roster of the Fellows for 2008, williamirwinthompson.org, accessed October 4, 2008.
  3. TED Brain Trust, TED, accessed April 1, 2010.
  4. Joseph Campbell Foundation Who's who, organizational web page, accessed May 1, 2012.
  5. Foresight Institute Advisors, organizational web page, accessed July 9, 2013.
  6. Janis Mara, "Nuclear war in California," Contra Costa Times (California), March 26, 2008.

External resources

  • ALL-SPECIES.org, the website of the ALL Species Foundation.
  • LONGBETS.org, the website of "The Long Bets Foundation".
  • LONGNOW.org, the website of "The Long Now Foundation".
  • WELL.com, Brand's home page (last updated September 2001).
  • "Stewart Brand" in the Wikipedia.
  • "Stewart Brand" and "Merry Pranksters, Everything2.com. Source: "Prankster History Project," PranksterWeb.org.
  • Archives of articles on Stewart Brand at Nuclear Notes blogspot.
  • Fred Turner, [16]" Turner, Fred From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. 354 p., 2006. Describes Stewart Brand's history and travels from the forefront of post-WWII / early cold war art and thinking, through the counterculture of the late '60's, through the 70's and on from there."

External articles