Exactly 50 years ago, in 1968, the Whole Earth Catalog first came to life.
Thanks to the work of an ongoing community of people, it prospered in various forms for 32 years—sundry editions of the Whole Earth Catalog, CoEvolution Quarterly, The WELL, the Whole Earth Software Catalog, Whole Earth Review, etc. Their impact in the world was considerable and sustained.
Hundreds of people made that happen—staff, editors, major contributors, board members, funders, WELL conference hosts, etc. We’d like to bring them together one last time to: take a public bow, celebrate fine work together, convene and scheme across the multiple generations, and honor our departed (Jay Baldwin, Dick Raymond, Peter Warshall, Anne Herbert, Andrew Fluegelman, Richard Nilsen, Dick Fugett, etc.).
The format is still being developed but the celebration will take place on October 13, 2018, and a fine venue in San Francisco has been reserved. It should be one full, amazing day—private during the day for the extended Whole Earth alumni, and open to the public in the evening with a blizzard of 5-minute talks (like at the "Whole Earth Jamboree” in 1978) and other instructive delights.
The Whole Earth Catalog was an invitation to agency. It made people eager to haul off and try things that might improve their life and the world’s life. Tools have improved vastly in the 50 years since then, and so has access to them. How is the eagerness doing these days? It might be worth visiting the past, present, and futures of that impulse and the ways it gets kindled.
"WEC popularized the idea that having access to computers would be
important to the counterculture - this brought many people into the Homebrew Club and other outposts of personal computing."
- LEE FELSENSTEIN
"In the early 70s, during my teens, it showed me that the boundary between science and the arts that I'd drawn in my mind was neither necessary nor useful. That has shaped my thinking (and career) ever since. It also inspired me to a career in self-publishing, from mimeograph zines to websites and blogs."
- SCOTT ROSENBERG
"It introduced me to the novel idea that you could do something yourself instead of hiring someone to do it for you. It was like hacking without code."
- JANE METCALFE
"In innumerable ways, but most notably, the 'Whole Earth' vision of 'accelerating access' was very much in my mind when I decided to become the founding technical person at Amazon."
- SHEL KAPHAN
"Provided me with the road map to actualize my vision for being a steward of the Earth within a global community who still share core values and aspirations. The whole earth flag is the only one we fly to this day."
- HARVEY STONE
The Whole Earth 50th Planning Committee: