02008-10-26 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

What will happen when the humans have disappeared? Like any road, building, or book, this home page will crack, decay, and surrender to the elements of nature if left unattended for a period of time. (Give it about 9 minutes.)

When Canton and I started working on ideas for a new homepage this Spring, I felt I had to think about the characteristics of a website – as compared to printed material, e.g. books.

A book smells of paper and ink – a web site does not smell at all.
A book is tactile and my interaction with it involves touch – a web site is not tactile… one has to use an intermediary, the mouse, to interact. (((like reading a book that’s in another room and having to use robotic arms to turn the page)))
A book makes sounds: turning the page, flattening a paperback to stay open to a certain page, flicking through pages to find where one left off, folding over a corner to mark a certain passage… – a web site often features annoying sounds that make us reach for the mute button…(((like playing “Barcelona Nights” as soon as we landed on

What are, for me, the useful characteristics of a web page?
It can be in many places at the same time – actually everywhere, pretty much instantly.
It can make use of time in a way that books cannot.
And, maybe most importantly, a web site can link to stuff. Have you EVER checked whether an author actually quoted somebody correctly? It involves noting the quote and checking the footnotes and then going out and finding the book in question… I have NEVER actually done that – but on a web page it is easy to follow the link and discover the origin of the quote.

Time and linking…

As a result links are all red on the new web site – they are as obvious as possible since the web is all about linking…

Then Canton had a long and apparently very vivid dream about plants taking over the planet. The CO² content in the air had become too high and forced humans to seek shelter underground, and while they were gone from the surface plants had gone wild and even evolved intelligence…

I liked this for several reasons. The first reason is that we don’t have to save planet Earth in the coming decades… we have to save us, the humans dwelling on said planet. The planet will be fine if humans go the way of dinosaurs – and possibly disappear as quickly as the dinosaurs did. Development moves upward and towards complexity and in a few million years another race of human-like creatures might occupy earth. Or another planet. The universe won’t care about this little setback. What’s another few million or billion years! Something new will rise from the primordial slime eventually, because evolution is a one-way street, toward complexity. The second reason is that depicting time and decay is a way of showing time, and music is all about time.

So, Canton went to work and we created this homepage. You can watch the changes unfold in about nine minutes (((a veritable eternity in internet-time, where attention usually last about 15 seconds))) or you can find an Easter Egg that will make it all happen in just two minutes. Enjoy.

Related Links:
The Long Now Clock
The Long Now Foundation
The World Without Us
15,000 Year Tour of Manhattan
What Would Disappear?
New Orleans caught in a stranglehold of vegetation
Three Planetary Futures


  1. Ursula Kellett

    Dear Ottmar, I am German also but live in London. Your music has kept my spirits up through two lockdowns here. My brother lives in Santa Fe and I visit once a year. I would love to say ‘Vielen Dank!’ to you personally.

    • ottmar

      Danke Ursula!
      I appreciate you telling me that.


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