Stewart Brand


American Writer, Editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, Founder of organizations including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation

Author Quotes

Wind energy takes a very large footprint on the land, five to 10 times what you?d use for nuclear, and typically to get one gigawatt of electricity is on the order of 250 square miles of wind farm.

Wright is an interesting study of a superstar architect having both right and wrong influence. All Architecture, worthy the name, he decreed in 1910, will, henceforward, more and more be organic.12 So inspired by Viollet-le-Duc and Louis Sullivan, he inspired countless others (including young me) toward an organic approach to architecture. At the same time, the very pomposity of his decrees helped inflame a fatal egotism in generations of architects, and his most famous buildings belie his organic ideal. They were so totally designed?down to the screwheads all being aligned horizontally to match his prairie line?that they cannot be changed. To live in one of his houses is to be the curator of a Frank Lloyd Wright museum.

Unfortunately for the atmosphere, environmentalists helped stop carbon-free nuclear power cold in the 1970s and 1980s in the United States and Europe. (Except for France, which fortunately responded to the '73 oil crisis by building a power grid that was quickly 80 percent nuclear.) Greens caused gigatons of carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere from the coal and gas burning that went ahead instead of nuclear. I was part of that too, and I apologize.

We are as gods and might as well get good at it.

We are convinced by things that show internal complexity, that show the traces of an interesting evolution. Those signs tell us that we might be rewarded if we accord it our trust. An important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion. Some work invites you into itself by not offering a finished, glossy, one-reading-only surface. This is what makes old buildings interesting to me. I think that humans have a taste for things that not only show that they have been through a process of evolution, but which also show they are still a part of one. They are not dead yet.

Well, nuclear waste is sort of a first two generations of reactors issue. U.S. has decided to use once through rather than to reprocess the way French and Japanese do. And so weve got a fair amount of nuclear waste that?s sitting around in dry cask storage being perfectly okay while we think about it. And either we will use it as fuel in the so-called fourth generation reactors that are being designed now or we could reprocess it the way the French do, or we could stick in the ground, not in Nevada, but it looks like New Mexico, the so-called waste isolation pilot plant, its been putting nuclear waste in a salt formation for 10 years now, looks like a good place to put this stuff if we wanted just file it and forget it.

No one could accuse Building 20 of burying its Services too deep in the Structure. Recabling from office to office, lab to lab, or even wing to wing is largely a matter of do-it-yourself. Rather than a burden, the occupants consider this a benefit. 1990 - The wide wood stairs in Building 20 show wear in a way that adds to its myth. You feel yourself walking in historic footsteps in pursuit of technical solutions that might be elegant precisely because they are quick and dirty. And that describes the building: elegant because it is quick and dirty.

What does it take to build something so that it?s really easy to make comfortable little modifications in a way that once you?ve made them, they feel integral with the nature and structure of what is already there? You want to be able to mess around with it and progressively change it to bring it into an adapted state with yourself, your family, the climate, whatever. This kind of adaptation is a continuous process of gradually taking care.

On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.

What the world has now are new cities with young populations and old cities with old populations. How the dialogue between them plays out will determine much of the nature of the next half-century.

Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road.

When a fantasy turns you on, you're obligated to God and nature to start doing it - right away.

Science is the only news. When you scan a news portal or magazine, all the human interest stuff is the same old he-said-she-said, the politics and economics the same cyclical dramas, the fashions a pathetic illusion of newness; even the technology is predictable if you know the science behind it. Human nature doesn't change much; science does, and the change accrues, altering the world irreversibly.

When environmentalists are wrong, it is frequently technology that they are wrong about, and they wind up supporting parochial Green goals at the cost of comprehensive ones. That happened with space technology, nuclear technology, and genetic engineering. If your default position on a new technology is suspicion, you forfeit the ability to deploy it for your own purposes. "The environmental movement has so far concentrated its attention upon the evils that technology has done rather than upon the good that technology has failed to do," says Freeman Dyson. But focusing on Green technological opportunity requires a shift in attitude toward novelty.

The best way for doubters to control a questionable new technology is to embrace it, lest it remain wholly in the hands of enthusiasts who think there is nothing questionable about it.

When fantasy turns you on, you're obligated to God and nature to start doing it right away.

The fashion game is fun for architects to play and diverting for the public to watch, but it?s deadly for building users. When the height of fashion moves on, they?re the ones left behind, stuck in a building that was designed to look good rather than work well, and now it doesn?t even look good.

The one garment in the world with the greatest and longest popularity?over a century now?is Levi?s denim blue jeans. Along with their practical durability, they show age honestly and elegantly, as successive washings fade and shrink them to perfect fit and rich texture. Ingenious techniques to simulate aging of denim come and go, but the basic indigo 501s, copper-riveted, carry on for decades. This is highly evolved design. Are there blue-jeans buildings among us?

The polling is pretty clear on this. The people who turn out to be the most positive about nuclear are people who live near a present nuclear plant; they have tented to have visited the plants, see how clean and safe it is, the local jobs; they'd love to see a couple more reactors added to the side which are usually already licensed. So its one of those things of, you know, you hear the not in my backyard argument, but if you actually ask people who have nuclear in their backyard, they're pretty enthusiastic about it.

The product of careful continuity is love....Trust, intimacy, intense use, and time are what made these buildings work so well.

The technology of synthetic biology is currently accelerating at four times the rate of Moore's Law. It's been doing that since 2005, and it's likely to continue.

There should always be in sight the draw ? a kind of a beacon that draws you on through the labyrinth.

There's no unemployment in squatter cities. Everyone works. One-sixth of humanity is there. It's soon going to be more than that.

It would be helpful if humanity got into the habit of thinking of the now not just as next week or next quarter, but the next 10,000 years and the last 10,000 years ? basically civilization?s story so far.

Likewise, with solar, especially here in California, we're discovering that the 80 solar farm schemes that are going forward want to basically bulldoze 1,000 sq. mi. of southern California desert. Well, as an environmentalist, we would rather that didn't happen.

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American Writer, Editor of the Whole Earth Catalog, Founder of organizations including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation