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Long Essays

The Enlightenment is Dead, Long Live the Entanglement

Published on Monday, February 22, 02016  •  2 years ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Journal of Design and Science

Time In The 10,000-Year Clock

Published on Thursday, February 9, 02012  •  6 years, 1 month ago
Written by Danny Hillis for American Astronomical Society

A Proposal for Meaningful Change in Washington. (Really)

Published on Monday, June 20, 02011  •  6 years, 8 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Huffington Post

Keeper of the Clock

Published on Sunday, August 1, 02010  •  7 years, 7 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for The Long Now Foundation

The Future Will Have to Wait

Published on Sunday, January 22, 02006  •  12 years, 1 month ago
Written by Michael Chabon for Details

The Fundamentals

Published on Wednesday, February 16, 02005  •  13 years ago
Written by Roger Kennedy for The Long Now Foundation

Why the West Is Burning

Published on Saturday, February 16, 02002  •  16 years ago
Written by Roger Kennedy for New York Times

Pharaoh Dreamed

Published on Wednesday, January 16, 02002  •  16 years, 1 month ago
Written by Stewart Brand for The Long Now Foundation

Is Technology Moving Too Fast?

Published on Monday, June 19, 02000  •  17 years, 9 months ago
Written by Stewart Brand for Time

Taking the Long View

Published on Wednesday, April 26, 02000  •  17 years, 10 months ago
Written by Stewart Brand for Time

The Singularity

Published on Monday, August 16, 01999  •  18 years, 7 months ago
Written by Stewart Brand for The Long Now Foundation

Anxiously Waiting for the Millenium

Published on Wednesday, June 16, 01999  •  18 years, 9 months ago
Written by Paul Saffo for The Long Now Foundation

The Library

Published on Friday, May 28, 01999  •  18 years, 9 months ago
Written by Stewart Brand for The Times Higer Education

The real Y2K bug

Published on Saturday, May 8, 01999  •  18 years, 10 months ago
Written by Paul Saffo for Salon.com

Reframing the Problems

Published on Thursday, February 11, 01999  •  19 years, 1 month ago
Written by Stewart Brand for

Impatient Pendulum

Published on Thursday, July 16, 01998  •  19 years, 8 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Forbes

The Big Picture

Published on Saturday, May 16, 01998  •  19 years, 10 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Wired

Intelligence as an Emergent Behavior or, The Songs of Eden

Published on Monday, March 16, 01998  •  20 years ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Daedalus

Why Do We Buy The Myth Of Y2k?

Published on Monday, February 16, 01998  •  20 years ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Newsweek

Written on the Wind

Published on Wednesday, February 11, 01998  •  20 years, 1 month ago
Written by Stewart Brand for Civilization

A Time of Transition/The Human Connection

Published on Wednesday, April 16, 01997  •  20 years, 11 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Association for Computing Machinery

The Millennium Clock

Published on Thursday, February 16, 01995  •  23 years, 1 month ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Wired

Two Questions

Published on Friday, February 10, 01995  •  23 years, 1 month ago
Written by Stewart Brand for Wired

The Big Here and Long Now

Published on Sunday, January 15, 01995  •  23 years, 2 months ago
Written by Brian Eno for The Long Now Foundation

Why physicists like models, and why biologists should

Published on Tuesday, February 16, 01993  •  25 years, 1 month ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Current Biology

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine

Published on Sunday, January 15, 01989  •  29 years, 2 months ago
Written by Danny Hillis for Physics Today

Balancing a Design

Published on Monday, February 16, 01987  •  31 years, 1 month ago
Written by Danny Hillis for IEEE Spectrum

If those trips down to the demos in Westminster have left you behind schedule for your end-of-term assignment, you may well be forced to write in the small hours this week. Here's how to pull it off safely and successfully.

12am: Get as far away from your bed as possible

Before you begin, avoid warmth and soft furnishings. Propped up on pillows in the glow of a laptop may feel like savvy ergonomics, but your keyboard will start to look pillow-like by midnight, and 418 pages of the word "gf64444444444444444444" will detract from the force of your argument. You could try the kitchen. Or Krakow. But your industrially lit 24-hour campus library should do the trick.

12:25am: Take a catnap

Thomas Edison used to catnap through the night with a steel ball in his hand. As he relaxed and the ball dropped, he would wake up, usually with fresh ideas. "Caffeine and a short nap make a very effective combination," says Jim Horne, director of the Loughborough Sleep Research Centre. "Have the coffee first. This takes about 20 minutes to work, so take a 15-minute nap. Use an alarm to wake up and avoid deep sleep kicking in. Do this twice throughout the night."

12.56am: Reduce your internet options

Temporarily block Twitter, Spotify, Group Hug, YouTube, 4od and anything else that distracts you. Constantly updating your word count on Facebook may feel like fun, but to everyone else you'll look like you're constantly updating your word count on Facebook.

1-3am: Now write your essay. No, really

You've widened your margins, subtly enlarged your font and filled your bibliography with references of such profound obscurity that no one will notice you're missing 3,000 words. It's time to brainstorm, outline, carve words, followed by more words, into that milk-white oblivion that taunts you. Speed-read articles. Key-word Google Books. Remember texts you love and draw comparisons. Reword. Expound. Invent. Neologise. Get excited. Find a problem you can relish and keep writing. While others flit from point to point, your impassioned and meticulous analysis of a single contention is music to a marker's eyes.

3-5am: Get lost in your analysis, your characters, your world Write like you're trying to convince the most stubborn grammarian about truth, or heartless alien invaders about love. Don't overload with examples – be creative with the ones you have. Detail will save your life, but don't waste time perfecting sentences – get the bulk down first and clean up later. "The progress of any writer," said Ted Hughes, "is marked by those moments when he manages to outwit his own inner police system." Outwit your own inner police system. Expect progress. Ted says so.

5:01am: Don't cheat

It's about now that websites such as easyessay.co.uk will start to look tempting. And you may sleep easier knowing that a dubiously accredited Italian yoga instructor is writing about Joyce instead of you. But the guilt will keep you up between now and results day. And you'll toss and turn the night before graduation, job interviews, promotions, dinner parties, children's birthdays, family funerals . . . you get the idea.

5.17am: Don't die

Sounds obvious, but dying at your computer is definitely trending. And however uncool it may seem to "pass on" during a five-day stint at World of Warcraft, it will be much more embarrassing to die explaining perspectivism to no one in particular. So be careful. Stay hydrated. Blink occasionally. And keep writing.

5.45am: Eat something simple

"There are no foods that are particularly good at promoting alertness," says Horne. "But avoid heavy and fatty meals in the small hours. Avoid very sugary drinks that don't contain caffeine, too. Sugar is not very effective in combating sleepiness." Fun fact: an apple provides you with more energy than a cup of coffee. Now stick the kettle on.

5.46am: Delight in being a piece of living research

If you happen to be "fatigue resistant" you should now be enjoying the enhanced concentration, creative upwelling and euphoric oneness that sleep deprivation can bring. If not, try talking yourself into it. "Conversation keeps you awake," says Horne. "So talk to a friend or even to yourself – no one will hear you."

6am: Console yourself with lists of writers who stuck it out

Robert Frost was acquainted with the night. Dumas, Kafka, Dickens, Coleridge, Sartre, Poe and Breton night-walked and trance-wrote their way to literary distinction. John and Paul wrote A Hard Day's Night in the small hours. Herman the Recluse, atoning for broken monastic vows, is said to have written the Codex Gigas on 320 sheets of calfskin during a single night in 1229. True, he'd sold his soul to the Devil, but you're missing out on a live Twitter feed, so it's swings and roundabouts.

7am: Remember – art is never finished, only abandoned

Once you accept there's no more you can do, print it off and get to the submissions office quick. Horne: "You're not fit to drive if you've had less than five hours sleep, so don't risk it. Grab some exercise." Pop it in with the breeziness that comes from being top of your marker's pile. Back home, unblock Facebook and start buffering The Inbetweeners. And then sleep. Get as near to your bed as you can. Euphoric oneness doesn't come close.

Matt Shoard teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.

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