Milliongenerations talk:Letters

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The Letters are a good project with pure intentions. But it is not workable this way! Needs improvements:

  • Ask really well known poets, like Ramsey Nasr (Dichter des Vaderlands) or Remco Campert to start the effort and publicize it big time in mainstream media
  • Publish a booklet every year with the poem to date that people will want to keep and give to each other
  • Think big, don't be limited by money, which can be found for good ideas
  • Keep the poem alive: let the sponsors decide the pace of its growth. Let go of the 'one letter per week' and rather publish as many as people want to pay for at a fixed price. This avoids the auction and makes things quicker and you don't know where a given year ends
  • Implement something that makes theft of the stones difficult
  • Don't put names in the side of stones. Nobody sees that and it is technically difficult
  • Don't put a number on the stones beneath the letter either, this is ugly, difficult and makes the letter itself smaller and much less legible
  • Present the project with a solid, accountant-drafted budget to sponsors
  • Have the project run by a legal entity, foundation better than association, and make sure it is run by professionals, not by volunteers who can not be held to account

--Peter 22:33, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Mmm. Letting go of the one stone per week would indeed simplify many things. And one could still keep count of the weeks by putting a counter in the stones next to the line of letters (though at higher cost of making the stones). The sponsor money=effort then determines the speed and not the time, and effort is what drives civilization more than time. The amount raised for charity (and also available for poets, masons, stone layers and overhead) would probably be quite a bit larger per year. From a poetry perspective that would seem nicer, too, we'd probably get to read much more. The poem could still be endless, so we wouldn't see it all, however fast it is published. Yet: wouldn't this seem to put the focus on the present rather than the future? My gut feeling: yes. Would it be as likely that one finds it worth continuing in fifty years? My gut feeling: less so. The concern for those who can be in the future should be the core value to be expressed by the clearest means possible. This needs to be thought through well (maybe try both concepts and see which lasts longer?) --Michael 23:00, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

Why begin 1 Jan, 2000? A commentator to the Long Now Blog Entry over the Letters of Utrecht suggested one should instead start 1 Jan 2001 (or since it has to be a Saturday that would be 30Dec2000 or 6Jan2001). The comment seems motivated by the perspective that the first millennium began with the year 1 as no year 0 existed. The numbering of years is of course convention rather than necessity. The number of weeks that we 'predate' the poem i.e., the 'date' associated with the first Letter is also arbitrary. It arose from the idea that we need a piece of poem ready at the beginning to catch people's attention. It does seem a benefit to 'connect to the calendar system' and be able to say that the number on the stone counts the weeks since the turn of the millennium. How one defines the turn of the millennium is a convention: Wikipedia's article on millennium explains the debate. Personally, I don't know anyone who celebrated the turn of the millennium at the turn from 2000 to 2001, rather 1999 to 2000 seems to have been the common and pragmatic choice, and it did not diminish my faith. So the number on the Letters counts the weeks since the beginning of the year 2000. If the first Letter carried the number zero, the number on the Letter actually equals the number of completed 7 day intervals since 1 Jan 2000 on the day that the stone is placed (plus about half a day). But who would understand why the first letter has the number 0? Beginning the first Letter with 1 seems more intuitive, the number then marks the beginning of the so-manyeth 7 day interval since the beginning of the year 2000. Not that weeks ever were considered to begin on Saturday and the original idea was a Letter on every first workday of the week. Saturday, however, is the only realistic day for the masons and nicer for the public as more people can watch him hack the next Letter. What matters is that people want to continue the project and more importantly be aware about what their actions do to people in the future. Whatever is intuitively understood should be most useful towards that goal, being too technical about things past would turn attention backwards rather than forwards. So I recommend to stick with Letter number 1 predated to Saturday, 1Jan2000, and to mention the counting of weeks since the turn of the millennium without hesitation or further detail.--Sysop 14:50, 12 April 2012 (UTC)