Naming: Worldbuilding Academy, Witness, or...?

Calling especially @nadia @ivan @hugi @yudhanjaya @Joriam.

Like all composite, organic workspaces, Edgeryders has constant issues with naming. On the other one, we all are one; we work in highly coordinated way, and try to maximize synergies, according to the Benedictine principle “do everything for at least two reasons”. On the other, interaction with the world outside Edgeryders needs simplification, boxes to put thing in and labels to tell them apart.

So, Edgeryders begat the Sci-Fi Economics Lab. That much is clear. I also believe that what we are doing in is a project of SF-ECON, albeit important, and not SF-ECON itself.

When we started out, we called it “The Worldbuilding Academy”. And it made sense: we had nothing, but we knew we wanted to build a world. The name denoted the activity. Now we have the beginning of a world: the city of Witness.

Most of these fanfic wikis are called after the world they describe, not the activity of building it: the Marvel Wiki, etc (I note, however, that AO3 is different). Someone, in a recent post, was calling what we are doing now “Project Witness”. And that sounds nice, even though of course Witness is not (yet) as famous and recognizable as Middle-Earth, or the Federation.

So I ask you, the core team: going forward, what would you call this project, and why?

This is connected to the fact that Hugi has created a website, and now we will need to register a domain. I would be inclined towards, but we can also do, or whatever else.


I agree with you re the domain.

Since we are in a rush I am just going to roll with that and make appropriate changes to the scifieconomics lab mother site, as well as the subsite that Hugi made for Witness

1 Like was bought by @augusto back in the day. When it expired (September) we were not able to transfer it, so he just fronted the payment for renewal and I paid him back.

We can still make any change, but to buy a second-level domain we need to either go through him or (better) transfer the domain to us. I just pinged him to obtain a transfer code.

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I agree with you on the domain and the genesis part, rather linear: ER > SFECON > WBA as one of its branches. WBA has produced the project which at this point needs a name. From my side, I leave it to the creative department to take over from here

On the term ‘sci-fi’:

> Sci-fi was used in a derogatory manner by people in the publishing industry, and then it was adopted by the people it was used against as a term for schlocky crap, like stories that are really formula westerns (or suspense stories, or military sagas) with spaceships and aliens thrown in. 99% of non-printed ‘science fiction’ would classify as ‘sci-fi’, even some of the better stuff - basically if you could replace the science-fiction elements with something else and still have the exact same story, it’s sci-fi. Alien was a good movie, but you could replace the Nostromo with a sea ship and the alien with some demon and not have to make major changes to the plot. Blade Runner, however, deals with artificial man-made ‘life’ and is true science fiction.
*> *
> SF is preferred because it can stand for ‘speculative fiction’, which can include stories that don’t really have anything to do with science but should be in the same genre. Alternate histories are SF, but often aren’t science fiction. Stories like ‘The Handmaids Tale’ which are set in the near future after major social changes which had nothing to do with scientific advances are also speculative fiction. A story about what would really happen if God made his presence known again would be a good example of SF.

  • from a forum argument about the word ‘sci-fi’

‘sci-fi’ became something of a derogatory term, so it may be worth your time to read up on the arguments on that thread. Also see the ‘Sci-fi ghetto’ article on TV Tropes

" The Sci-Fi Ghetto reflects a long-lasting stigma which has been applied towards the science fiction genre, which frequently leads creators and marketers to shun “Sci-Fi”, “Science Fiction” or “Fantasy” labels as much as possible, even on shows that have clear science fiction or fantastical elements. It also reflects the tendency for critics, academics and other creators to near-automatically dismiss or disdain works which cannot escape this label being applied, regardless of relative quality or merit. Conversely, if these critics, creators and academics do feel that the work possesses merit by their standards, expect them to strenuously insist that the work is not science fiction or fantasy (How could it be? It’s good - No True Scotsman fallacy in play) , regardless of how many torturous hoops they might have to jump through in order to do so."

And then reading up on the Margaret Atwood-Ursula Le Guin debate ( after Atwood said “Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space” (The Guardian, 28 January 2009) and demanded that her work be considered speculative fiction. The latter term originates from the New Wave movement of the 70’s - we’re talking Delany, Ellison, Le Guin, Moorcock et al - a particularly bitter period of tit-for-tat in SF history, and one that let to today’s genre splits between the ‘hard science fiction’ and the ‘speculative fiction’ crowds. May I add that there are also ethnic splits encoded in these communities.

TL;DR: this might be me being pedantic, but you should know that the word ‘sci-fi’ has a history of being used as a derogatory term.

Me, I want to be free to write anything I damn well please, so in my career I’ve seen fit to brand myself as an SFF or speculative fiction writer.

Anyway, pedantry around ‘sci-fi’ aside - ‘Project Witness’ is a damn cool name. makes perfect sense, because I am -1 to making the name too complex to type in - the easier it is to remember, the better. I feel it can be called ‘Project Witness’ with that domain nomenclature.


Thanks, Yudha, very thoughtful. But there’s a twist, two in fact.

First of all, “speculative fiction” is AFAIC an exclusively Anglo concept. Italian does not even have the word. Some of us in this space are native English speakers, but not all, or even most. I mean, in the core team the only native speaker of English is @nadia (unless English is your own native language too?), and even she has another native language, Swedish.

But the most interesting twist is the second one:

This would apply, word by word, to non-neoclassical economics. And there is no wiggle room there: if you want respectability, you’ve got to play that game. So, our idea here is take the plunge, and claim the derogatory word as a badge of pride, much like some discriminated minorities in the English-speaking world.

It works super well in Italian. “Questa è fantascienza!” would exclaim the respectable expert in a debate on, say, ditching GDP entirely to focus on some more sensible measures of economic performance. Literally “This is science fiction”, but in the sense of “This is make-believe”.

And yes, we are the people that are not afraid to contemplate possibilities that, to most, are make-believe.

I believe that @nadia agrees with you on the Witness naming. What do others think?

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yeah def for Witness. It is beautiful, poetic and gives a sense of being a community of fate.


I personally love the term Project witness - and I mean I am certainly biased since working on the concept/practise of Global Social Witnessing
And yes it gives hope and is in a way also neutral in a good way.