Whole Earth Catalog in Plenty

September 15, 2008


The magazine Plenty, Issue 124, has a well researched and written article on the phenomenon of the Whole Earth Catalog. The entire life of the publication was short- 1968-1972. But its influence was, and is continuing to be, long and significant.

The Plenty article has statements from the original parties involved with he publication, including the founder, Stewart Brand. The article says it best so I won't repeat much here except to point to its influence on yours truly. I collected every publication I could find by these folks because it represented not just information about tools and ecologically sound,  well designed products but also a way of thinking about ourselves, our culture, our country, and our world. The whole-systems based approach to knowing was a revelation to me and I devoured those publications for a world view I found nowhere else.

After 36 years, I still have a box full of those catalogs and other related publications. I don't read them any more, and I sometimes think about selling them (contact me here), but the influence those catalogs and their writers have had on me is profound and I am grateful to have had them in my life.
Addendum, January 9, 2009:

I have discovered that the The Whole Earth catalog folks have a web site where all their publications can be viewed electronically! 

Also, you can view here on YouTube the 2005 commencement speech given by Steve Jobs of Apple, where he mentions the early effect of the Whole Earth Catalog on him.

One Response to “Whole Earth Catalog in Plenty”

  1. mary fran Says:

    what a funny coincidence (or maybe not). we just found some whole earth catalogs in my parents’ basement before our yard sale, and held on to them because they seemed interesting. i’ll have to look them over tonight!


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