The entire 35-year archive of Whole Earth Catalogs, along with its Supplements, and descendant magazines – CoEvolution Quarterly, and Whole Earth are now available on the web. The Whole Earth Catalog,was published in 1968 by Stewart Brand, it and its related magazines embodied a certain type of Californian environmental thinking. A key concept was systems – which included thinking about people, and computers, as well as ecosystems, and when I read first read issues of the magazine as a teenager in the 1980s it was my first exposure to systems theory.
The full archive is in a difficult to navigate scanned form, which is difficult to link to or search, however some of the later articles are available as text. However the archive includes lots of interesting stuff. For example, Dana Meadows famous article on where to intervene in a system there. Other interesting bits include articles by ecologists such as HT Odum, Paul Ehrlich, and Buzz Holling as well as an issue focused on scenario planning.
The Whole Earth Catalogs preached the hacker/designer approach to life starting in 1968, decades before this lifehacking became the norm. The Catalogs were a paper-based database offering thousands of hacks, tips, tools, suggestions, and possibilities for optimizing your life.
Like fine wine, the back issues of the Whole Earth Catalogs and its offspring, the CoEvolution Quarterly improve with age. One can read 20-year-old back issues and they will inform and astound you. They feel as if they were written yesterday. I’ve noted previously that much of their charm comes because they were blogs created in newsprint, written before the internet.
- What Drives Humanity’s Footprint on the Earth?
- Tipping Points in the Earth System – an icon of climate change?
- Biocultural Conservation at the end of the earth merits 2008 SPES Award
- Legacy Futures: how past concepts of the future constrain current thinking
- Leverage Points in the Earth System: Soil Moisture