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Collective worldbuilding project

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(João Luz) #1

I’ve been in this forum for only two weeks and I’ve already had the opportunity to read and discuss lots of truly fascinating ideas.
I was wondering if we could do something with these ideas.

You guys know Orion’s Arm? It’s a collective science fiction worldbuilding project created by a vast group of people who came together to create a realistic and exciting fictional universe where writers could later set their stories. While they didn’t have much success in the storytelling part, I think they did a pretty amazing job in the worldbuilding.

Maybe we could start a project like that. It could be a good way to promote the forum as well as transhumanism and futurism.

What do you think?


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(Michael Hrenka) #2

Yeah, I am familiar with Orion’s Arm. It’s a fascinating project and an impressive display of collective worldbuilding.

If you want to make a project like that, what would you want to make differently? I mean, replicating Orion’s Arm as it is would be kinda pointless.


(João Luz) #3

I would like to make something smaller in scale but greater in detail than Orion’s Arm.

OA tells us the story of thousands of years of human development and of our expansion through the galaxy, which is awesome but makes it harder to develop with greater detail a single period, culture or location. Our project would be more near-future, focusing more on the colonization of our solar system and on tranhumanism (I know this things are also protrayed in Orion’s Arm but I think they trend to focus more of exobiology and intersteller politics). Mybe we can take some inpiration from the RPG Eclipse Phase.

Anyway, I think that if we can come up with original ideas and pack them coherently into a single universe we will easily create something different from other projects.


(Michael Hrenka) #4

Actually, I have been dabbling in science fiction worldbuilding for years. After all, science fiction is philosopher in disguise, and I consider myself as philosopher primarily.

There are two universes that I’ve worked on. There is the Our Ascent Verse, which portraits a rather optimistic development of humanity within the next 85 years. A few years ago I’ve made a timeline for that on my blog: http://radivis.com/our-ascent-timeline/ That may serve as general inspiration for whatever community project we come up with (if at all).

The other one is the Exaltation Verse which I’ve not really communicated a lot, but thought about more in the recent years. It’s focused on an alien civilization that is much more utilitarian and sane than ours. The Exaltation is what I call a “p faction” within that verse. p may stand for “philosophical” or “principle”. It’s roughly based on the two principles of ecstasy and responsibility (may sound contradictory, but it’s not). The main plot of the Exaltation Verse is that this Exaltation develops on a moon on the other side of the galaxy and then proceeds to colonize the galaxy. One of the later colonization wave hits Earth and then the Exaltation starts to uplift the Terran biosphere (meaning, not humanity alone) in the hope to gainfully integrate it into their culture. Since they are about 150 years ahead of us technologically and culturally (considering a soft take-off Singularity like in the Our Ascent Timeline), they can basically do magic on a stellar scale. But there are other competing p factions in the Exaltation Verse, both close and far.

It would be a really awesome project to synthesize our ideas into something really magnificent.


(João Luz) #5

I’ve checked you Our Ascent timeline. The ideas are aweasome and we should deffinitly incorporate them into our project. The only problem are the dates, as you said yourself in that blog post, things will probably not happen that fast.

We will have to put great attention into realism if we want to create a convincing universe, but we also have to play with some really crazy ideas if we want to make it intereting.

In regards of your Exaltation Verse universe, I’m not sure we should add a super-advanced alien civilization to our project, since I want to be mostly human-centric, but we could use the idea anyway. The Exaltation could a posthuman civilization which florished in a moon of Jupiter or Saturn, for example.

Anyway, if we decide to take the project forward here’s how I think we should do it:

  • We should use social future forum as the oficial discussion platform for the project. That way we avoid the problem of having to create a new platform, we allow all the community members to give ideas (even the ones who don’t want to commit at 100% to the project) and we attract more sci-fi fans to the forum.
  • We could create a private category for the project, like the one we already have for the Transhumanist Party.
  • We should present the universe we create in the form a wiki. That would easy for people to read about it.
  • We could try to find new collaborators in sci-fi fan communities
  • When we already have a rich enough fictional universe some of us could try writng a few short stories set in it an then present them to science-fiction magazines. I think that would be a good promotion strategy.

And here are some considerations about the universe/scenario:

  • We should make it optimistic but not panglossian, like your Our Ascent Verse. The world would become a better place but bad things would still happen. We would still have war, social inequality etc.
  • We can’t assume that humanity (or even earth) will be united at the future. In our universe, Earth would still be divided between nations (even if they are not the same nations) and the other planets would be divided between colonies and new independent nations.
  • Technology would interact with society and ideologies in a mutually transformative way.

These are only a few guidelines, I need the help of as many people as possible to make this true.


(Maximo Ramallo) #6

I like how you think Joao.

As a side note, many of your requirements are a genuine interest of constructing a blueprint on the near future. A mind candy for interpreting and dive into the promises of transhumanism and futurism, while keeping our feet on the ground. Of course, there are some constraints we want to be free, so we can taste the delights without social oppressions.

Now, there are some constructs I could share. There is my novel, in which I will still work, but things like a futuristic ecosystem (transhuman ethnics, uplifted animals, flora and fauna changed by future upcomings, and more), future philosophies (split between political factions, new ideological fronts, or new religions as possibilities), or new technologies (vehicles, industrial and personal machinery, gadgetry, even fachion), all which I may add. There is also the part on historical events, in which I am sure others have their own.

On the points you make, I agree, but note that on the part of the wiki, I can’t access the forum wiki due to some unknown issue not yet solved. With that solved I suggest we all have our version of each point and a central, shared wiki. The reason for this is simple, we not all have the same opinion, and we might want things slightly different.


(Michael Hrenka) #7

Right. Each of us probably want to keep their own science fiction worlds alive as personal projects, but out of that already existing idea pool and those of others who might want to come, too, we could create a synthesized world that would be our collaborative effort.

With regards to the Wiki: The technical issues that seem to be present there disappoint me about the DokuWiki software. I might therefore switch to a MediaWiki, the software that also runs on Wikipedia. At least, that should be stable and reliable enough. Unfortunately the Federated Wiki projects hasn’t gained sufficient traction to have a large amount of community support behind it. If I was an experienced web developer, I’d dare to set up a Federated Wiki, but at the moment that task seems too daunting to me, even if that was the best solution in the end.

Anyway, this collective worldbuilding project needs a name. Any suggestions?


(Maximo Ramallo) #8

There is going to be a version for each one of us, so lets get the name open sourced in a gpl manner: “FutureSeed”.


(João Luz) #9

I understand that we all want to create science-fiction universes in our own personal way, but I would like this to be a fully collective worldbuilding effort. Your idea of having several personal wikis and one central shared wiki is not a bad one, but I’m afraid we may never get to make a truly epic shared universe if we begin to disperse. If we do things as you suggest everyone is going to have to commit to developing the shared universe first.

As the project originated in social future forum maybe the name should have the word “Future” in it. It can be something like:

  • New Future
  • Brave Future
  • Bright Future
  • Future Blueprint (I like this one)

Future Seed souds good as well but that would suggest that the main objective of the project is to create several different fictional future universes instead of synthesising ideas into a single shared universe.

PS: just to clarify, I’m not saying that there can’t be different versions of this universe, I’m merely saying that we should focus on creating a single shared universe first. After that, everyone should be free to create their own versions with wichever alterations they like


(Maximo Ramallo) #10

There is going to be disagreements anyway, like for example now with the name. Please, lets foresee that and make everyone cooperate, instead of bringing “editorial wars”.


(Maximo Ramallo) #11

We can still have the rule of committing to the shared universe first and foremost, but giving the chance to express independently.


(João Luz) #12

Right. Than we are on the same page.

In regards of the name, Future Seed sounds goo, but, as I said, it create some abiguity in the matter of the project’s nature. Do have any other ideas?

My proposals were made kind of in a rush, I know they are not very catchy.


(Michael Hrenka) #13

What about “Fractal Future” in allusion to the “fractal society” that would be portrayed in that world?

Or a variation: “Kaleidoscopic Future”.


(João Luz) #14

Fractal Future souds good. Very good, actually.

Kaleidoscopic seems a little clunky to me


(Michael Hrenka) #15

By the way: Until i’ve set up a new MediaWiki, you can use this forum as transitional wiki. You can turn normal threads into wiki threads that can be edited collaboratively.


(João Luz) #16

Once we have decided the name we have to start thinking about the image. We should have logo to atract people. Anyone here is good with that stuff?


(Michael Hrenka) #17

My suggestion is to overlay pictures of

  • The solar system
  • The Mandelbrot fractal
  • A space habitat

Am I good with things like that? Not really, but I could do at least something.


(João Luz) #18

That sounds good (at least after I googled what the Mandelbrot fractal was).but that’s only ssuming we choose the “Fractal Future” title. So, I guess we will have to see if Maximo (and whoever else decides to join us) agrees with that title.

Yes, please try to do something. I’m a mess at graphic design and I do not even have photoshop or any other appropriate program.


(Maximo Ramallo) #19

Not me, but we are fortunate that there is software for this. Inkscape maybe? Vector graphics are our friends.

On the name, searching for synonyms of fractal led to a distant relation between “breaking” and “fractal”, how about “Breaking Future” or other synonyms because it adds the strong tense to the name.
Otherwise, “Pythagoras Tree” is very appropriate due to the nature of “fractal” drawings (which, by the way, we could use).


(Maximo Ramallo) #20

Actually, I came across several resources on how to draw a fractal tree:

This one is in inkscape:

Or even by programming:
http://rosettacode.org/wiki/Fractal_tree

Edit: here is one resource even more easy:
http://recursivedrawing.com/