Quick guide: engage with the creation of Witness

How to Engage

If you’ve been captivated by the imaginative societies and economic systems we’ve been creating around the floating city of Witness, but you’re still unsure on how to plug into this work with your unique expertise and contributions, this article is here to give you actionable steps on how to do just so.

Note: if this is the first time you engage with the narrative of the Witness, I advise you to check our trailer first so you can get up to speed.

Crucial Links

The end result: If you’ve been following the building of the Witness, you’ll know that our wiki’s latest additions are being inserted into the Witnesspedia, use the drop down menu on the Witnesspedia button to explore the different aspects of The Witness, or jump around from article to article as you read.

The backstage: But the Witnesspedia is not where the bricks are laid. We have another space inside the Edgeryders platform where ideas are bounced, new designs proposed and long conversations on interesting (and complicated!) topics happen. This is where you go if you want to add colour and detail to this worldbuilding.

Self-Organized Work

The Witness is being built in a self-organized, participatory fashion. It can be freeing and inspiring, but also intimidating at times — especially for newcomers.

If you had any impression that you needed to get permission to propose additions, changes or deepen conversations within the current topics, this is our direct invitation: we’re asking you to bring forth your leadership, creativity and curiosity. What is the contribution that only you could make?

That being said, I understand that sometimes all people need to get a hang of things is to have a clear example. So I’ve selected a few low-hanging-fruit places where you could apply your expertise quickly and easily.

Low Hanging Fruits

[ For economists, social scientists, anthropologists ]

Help us flesh out a believable decentralized economic system for Avantgrid

Context: a long discussion with many subtopics is already taking place on the Avantgrid article — help the economics thinkers figure out a way to give it enough substance.

Actions: The best way to do this is to read the ongoing discussion and quote what other people are saying, pointing out the strengths or weaknesses you see, particularly when you have a real-world reference to compare them to. You can also introduce new ideas and details to the conversation and ask for the same kind of comment.

Expand on Hygge-II’s main industries and output

Context: Based on the economic and societal systems that was already created for Hygge-II, can you help us imagine what sort of industry would that system encourage? What could be this Distrikt’s main forms of value generation?

Actions: Propose your ideas in the comment section below the main article, reaching out for other creators (you can tag people who already contributed here or elsewhere) to comment on your ideas. Once you feel the ideas are well agreed and solid, you can edit the main article and add them to the mix.

[ For writers, artists, worldbuilders ]

Help us create an interesting and resonating architectural style for The Dandelion Republic

Context: Many foundational aspects of The Dandelion Republic have been fleshed out, but its architecture is still unexplored. Help us create a style of building and urban organization that makes sense with how this Distrikt operates.

Actions: Just like @FrankDieters went ahead and proposed a section on Art, add also your own proposition for an architectural style, mentioning both how the buildings would look and how they’d be built, but also how this ties to the overall ethos of The Dandelion Republic

Propose a new notable person for Libria

Context: Libria is one of our most fleshed-out Distrikts thus far. If you’re most comfortable working on top of a pre-established structure, here’s a challenge for you — can you create another notable person, in addition to the ones that are already there, but one who operates in a completely different line of work/expertise form the ones already created?

Actions: Just like @yudhanjaya added a comment proposing a new ‘Transportation’ subsection on the 27th of January; add one comment yourself proposing a new notable person and tag the people who are already involved in the creation of Libria to check with them if that personality fits the space. Once they give you thumbs up, edit the main article and add your person at the bottom of the list.


I’d love if you could give a rather scrupulous double check here — and please help me figure out the grammar mistakes I certainly committed. I pledge guilty in advance.

Are the low hanging fruits I selected good? Or do you have any better ideas?

Cheers! @nadia @yudhanjaya @hugi @alberto @MariaEuler @ivan @bojanbobic


I’d love to help organise a “hackathon” (for a lack of a better word" -> an interactive, ACTIVE, group, collaborative session - where we can work on some aspect of the project together. That would make it easier for me to bring my energy & my presence; I suffer from too much online time and loneliness ; the group activity would make it more valuable for me. I’ve heard multiple people on the webinar enthusiastic of this approach, and I’d like to connect with them.
(still not sure how to use this platform, so here’s other contact details: BECHA@xs4all.nl, vesna@ripe.net, @ms_multicolor on Twitter)


I hope this is the right place to do this:

I would like to help out with the data (even if I have to make it up :joy:)
@alberto I am going to ask you a simiar question to what I asked Yudhanjaya about ecology, have you experimented with anything yet, even if outside this forum, or is the canvas totally blank?
I would also like to maybe write something about the ecology of Witness, as it seems that this topic hasn’t been picked up yet.

A quick thought that popped into my head after all the discussion about words towards the end of the webinar: it seems we are trying to use words in the language of economics (it is the Scifi Economics Lab after all), but one thing that is often overlooked is that economy fits within ecology and not the other way around, so maybe picking words from ecology and patterns of nature (and trying to apply ecological principles) would help ideas flow towards new economies that work WITH nature instead of against it or in spite of it.

The webinar was great fun, looking forward to engaging more! (And now I have some reading to catch up on :grin:)


@carolina_carvalho, that’s the spirit :slight_smile:

Please go ahead. The canvas is blank, though @yudhanjaya has the idea that Witness is post-climate change:

If you look out into the ocean on a clear day, sometimes you can see a line of clouds at the horizon, hints of mountain ranges; and looking down into the water from certain parts of the city, you will see the tops of rotting buildings, hinting at the drowned cities below.

A cataclysmic climate change points to a very severe mass extinction, so you might start from there. But it is not too late to question the whole thing. Maybe seal levels only went up a couple of meters, and the ecology is not so different from our own. Have a go! I suggest you start an entirely new topic in the Witnesspedia category, call it “Ecology of Witness” or what not, and have a blast.

This would fit into aethnography. @amelia already pointed out that there should be different lineages of aethnography. We imagined one based on Mauss-Polanyi-Hirschman-Santa Fe Institute, but others are called for, and she has her own ideas. You could imagine one based on Georgescu-Roegen, Prigogine, ecological economics etc. To do this, just reply to that topic. When you have a stub and you are comfortable with others editing it, I will show you how to make any post into a wiki, so that others can edit it too. Works?

This is a very fun idea. Of course, in an ideal world we would have full information on production, inter-distrikt trade, investments and so on. Would you like to start by imagining a measure of the Economic Complexity Index of the various distrikts? This index is based on foreign trade data, which we would have to make up. We already have hints as to the structure of that trade. For example, we know the Covenant to be a strong exporter:

The Assembly restricts foreign trade to reduce its dependency from other Distrikts:

And so on. This, by the way, is a great way to teach yourself the ECI!

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Thank you for this thorough walk-in!

Imagining a post-climate change ecology shouldn’t be too hard, it mostly involves moving our current biomes around on the map, the extent to which they are moved and the disappearance of some of them depending on the degree of average temperature increase. There are projections for this. But also different cultures arise out of different climates, so reading what you have so far will probably inform the increase, so I may not have to make that up, just figure it out from what you have already written.

When you have a stub and you are comfortable with others editing it, I will show you how to make any post into a wiki, so that others can edit it too. Works?

Yes, perfect!

This index is based on foreign trade data, which we would have to make up.

To be able to make that up, I will need to make a map first, even if just a mind map. Any cool artists on this yet, or sketches anywhere?

Also, to make up data and to build the mind map, will have to figure out flows of energy/trade/exchange between districts, and having the Witnesspedia printed out to underline and annotate helps me immensely (sorry trees!). Is there a PDF of the Witnesspedia? If not, I can make one.

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There is no map yet, and here is why. If you really want to go ahead with this, I think that makes the scale lean towards making one. What do you think, @yudhanjaya?

None. It changes so fast that we have thought it pointless, so far. Go right ahead!

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A mind map would not limit the worldbuilding in terms of size and locations, which seem to be the main concerns in the thread you shared.

I will make one to organize my ideas, and share it here when it is done, in case it can be useful for anyone.

Witnesspedia.pdf (2.0 MB)

PDF here

Thanks you so much @becha! @ivan can I ask you to follow this up?

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Hi @becha, we love the idea. I have sent you an email to see how could we explore this better.

Love this idea! I joined the webinar last year but have been really swamped (lots of computer time for work and struggling with work/life balance). Would definitely be nice to participate with others at the same time like this and I could plan for it a little better.


I just ran into this list of questions for worldbuilders, and imagined it might spark some ideas here.

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Wow, @danohu, that is one great resource!

I love this worldbuilding project… Great thought provoking stuff! I also have some ideas brewing.

Some questions: I noticed the author(s) of the distrikts are not mentioned in the texts accessible via the drop-down menu at https://scifieconomics.world/witnesspedia/distrikts

That made me wonder whether you consider the entries by participants to be under some license or different types of licenses? Who will “own” the material contributed here and under which terms? Having a clear statement clarifying this might also encourage new people to contribute.

And will the main author(s) be credited by name on the website and other finalized versions of this collaborative work? This could be important for someone new who is not part of this community yet. Some may want credit, and others may prefer to remain anonymous.

One more question: is there a schedule and calendar of events and meetings? When is the exercise planned to end?

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Could there be a general channel for uncategorized discussions about this worldbuilding? A place to drop links or ideas that don’t fit directly any of the Distrikts. For example I found this which might be interesting to some. https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/

Hi @iouxo, it is indeed an interesting link, thank you.

In response to your questions:

The ER platform is structured in a way that the participants can create threads and posts, but this could be the space for the general discussion.

There is actually a clear statement, all the material is released under the Creative Commons license but if you wish to find more these are the terms

In general - it is a wiki, but in case of the publication of some of the materials, the contributors will be credited with their ER id, unless they want a full name credit.

Potentially, never. While there are people interested to participate, we will keep the project open. It does have its asynchronous pace too. But, in the meantime, we are working on future events and meetings and will promote them as soon as they have a defined shape.

This clarified it. Thank you. As usability test feedback, it wasn’t deeply hidden, it’s just one click away but I didn’t think to look under the front page Community dropdown menu for the license terms which cover this activity. The front page has a lot of things going on to attract the eye :sweat_smile:

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