Coffee with Friedi: Relaunching Gaia’s Dreams

This is a post under the category “About the Book,” which includes writing that reflects on the book itself and the process of writing it. For a more general introduction to Gaia’s Dreams, see the Intro to this website.

I was drinking coffee in a classic old Stockholm cafe with my friend and former intern, Friederike May, who was working at Uppsala University.

“So, how’s the book going?” she asked. I confessed that I was a little stuck, and finding it hard to get going. Actually, I’m not sure what I said —  except that I wasn’t sure a normal “book” was the best way to tackle my ten-years-and-growing mountain of subject matter.

And Friedi (her nickname) started bouncing around ideas with me. Both of us, it turned out, were admirers of David Mitchell’s book “Cloud Atlas” (the movie version was not great), and the way it hops around between timelines. I started thinking of Theodore Gray’s classic book on The Elements, and the “Elements Vault” that followed: a collection of curiosities that helped to illustrate the core concepts and even the physical realities, including an actual piece of gold foil. We talked about a site that curated “artifacts”: videos, audio, imagery, the books I’ve been collecting on how we view the future, the old magazine covers that reveal how poorly we predict it, and whatever else seemed relevant (and fascinating).

And then I remembered this blog. As you can read here, I actually launched this book/website in 2009, and planned to write the whole book online, or at least to blog about the process. I wrote a couple of short, quirky essays.

Then I got sidetracked for about 9 years — working with the UN, promoting the SDGs, analyzing the economics of the oceans and seas, and many other projects. But during all that time, I kept clipping articles, saving links, and making notes about the third book in my “Optimist Trilogy,” Gaia’s Dreams.

And of course, the Internet changed during the last decade. “Blogging” is barely a “thing” anymore. The opportunities to approach a topic creatively, from many different angles, through many different forms of social and digital media, have exploded.

Coffee with Friedi helped me reconnect with my original intention around this book: to make it more than a book. To make something a bit more, shall we say, future-friendly.  (While still also resulting in a book. I love books! I predict books will be with us, in one form or another, for a long time to come.)

That’s how this new/old website came to be. That same afternoon, after coffee, I opened this site’s admin page, reorganized it, and started the process of relaunching Gaia’s Dreams. Why delay any further? The future can only wait so long, before it insists on becoming the present.

Thanks, Friedi!

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