Stewart Brand is a cofounder of Global Business Network and the Long Now Foundation. Best known for founding, editing, and publishing the Whole Earth Catalog (1968-1985; National Book Award, 1972), he also has a long-standing involvement in computers, education, and the media arts.
From 1987 to 1989 Stewart ran a series of private conferences on "Learning in Complex Systems," sponsored by strategic planners at Royal Dutch/Shell, AT&T, and Volvo. In 1988 he joined the Board of Trustees of the Santa Fe Institute, an organization dedicated to multi-disciplinary research in the sciences of complexity. In 1987, Stewart wrote The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT (Viking). It became a QPB Selection, won the Eliot Montroll Award, and has been translated into Japanese, German, Italian, and Spanish. From 1974 to 1985, Stewart founded, edited, and published CoEvolution Quarterly. He also served as editor-in-chief of the Whole Earth Software Catalog (Doubleday) from 1983-1985. During this time, Brand organized the first "Hackers' Conference," which was televised nationally and has since become an annual event. He also founded The WELL (Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link) a computer teleconference based in the San Francisco Bay Area. It now has 10,000 active users, and is considered a bellwether of the medium.
After receiving his degree in biology from Stanford in 1960 and spending two years as a US Infantry officer, Stewart became a photojournalist and multimedia artist, performing at colleges and museums. In 1968, he was a consultant to Douglas Engelbart's pioneering Augmented Human Intellect program at SRI, which devised now-familiar computer interface tools. In 1972, for Rolling Stone, he wrote the first article about the computer lifestyle, entitled "Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums," chronicling the fringes of computer science at Xerox PARC, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and MIT. That article became part of his book, Two Cybernetic Frontiers (Random House, 1974), which also introduced anthropologist/ philosopher Gregory Bateson to a wide audience. In 1974 he organized a "New Games Tournament," which generated three books and became a genre in experiential education.
In 1994, eight years of research by Stewart into how buildings change over time (a form of organizational learning) came together in a richly illustrated book, How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built. Referred to as "a classic and possibly a work of genius," the book has been used as a text by computer systems designers as well as building preservers, architects, and many lay building users.
Since co-founding The Long Now Foundation with Danny Hillis in 1996, Stewart has been involved with its growing number of projects. The 10,000-year Clock project aims to build a monumental timepiece inside a mountain in eastern Nevada; the first working prototype went on permanent display at the Science Museum in London. The Rosetta Project set about micro-etching 1,000 languages on a 3-inch nickel disk and wound up building the world's largest website of living languages. Long Bets is another web project, this one to make a permanent repository and forum for "accountable predictions," where each Prediction accumulates votes and discussion and can become a bet with real money at stake. The All Species Inventory was spun off as its own foundation, with the aim of discovering and cataloging every life form on earth within the current human generation. Another project, called Long Server, is attempting to help solve the very difficult problems in long-term preservation of digital materials. Stewart's book, The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility, investigates the advantages of taking the very long term seriously, including some new ways to think about the future.