Dear All - I like to give you some feedback from the Witness event on Thursday 22nd April.
It was a good learning and helped me to understand better; I have question about the ‘process’. Hence, I now understand better how building Witness may function.
Well, I am still concerned with the “reality plausibility” of Witness. The term “reality plausibility” sounds peculiar if we speak about SF, but as we are not talking about ‘phantasy’, it is essential. The now intended application cases in UNEP context make “reality plausibility” even more critical. I guess this view is shared. The difficulty is to locate ‘where’ is a border[zone] to phantasy, or whether Witness is reasonable rich in features to be perceived of plausible reality. Also, “reality plausibility” is much in the eye of the observer.
Questioning ‘ plausibility ’ (by friendly / unfriendly visitors) will happen by stressing that ‘something’ has been missed in the features of Witness. I use the word ‘feature’ to indicate something different than a technical/procedural aspect. A critic may disagree how a feature is described, but absence of a feature may be ‘deadly’.
To illustrate, when I read the documents that describe Witness, I noticed, for example, that neither drinking water, wastewater, nor children or care of the elderly seems mentioned. The drink/wastewater (technological) issue you may handled; e.g. by specifying that the energy is available to produce drinking water from seawater and clean the wastewater. Having missed societal features in support of children or older people may be more challenging to handle. In the first order, discounting good, service, incomes, wealth… may give the resources for these services. However, to have such features ‘plausible’ needs much more to it.
More generally, I wonder how to search the texts describing Witness’s districts and history to identify ‘so far missed features’, which may impact a perceived plausibility? I did some text search (ctrl F – kind). Cumbersome! It showed, for example, that searching for ‘school’ does not lead to education issues but a philosophical school of thoughts. But, can a district function without education of people (of any age).
It comes without saying, any list of ‘missing features’ will be infinite. Hence, it is impractical to compile it. What is possible, however, is to get a tool (maybe; advanced [sematic] text search) to check the existing sources whether ‘feature XYZ’ is addressed or not. Then, to initiate world building, a second tool seems required to ‘tax’ the resources of a given district to compensate for a given missing feature. An initial discussion could target the size of the tax (e.g. ‘having missed children and older people issues cost you 30% of all resources because….’). Then features may get added into the district & taxation is reduced). Such an approach is very crude, but may work out as a zero-order approach.
I hope that the above is felt to be constructive. I know that it is easier to ‘pick holes’ than to fill them. However, as a leisure activity (= reading a SF) holes in the texture of the story may be acceptable, but as Witness as tool for scenario-building rises the requirements. I recall a SF of the ‘we live in a matric-type’ where the protagonists found ‘black & white parts’; that was ‘where the matrix was not fully programmed’…
best regards, Martin
p.s. I was off some hours because I had to finish: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55854432-montecrypto