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Anthro_Danielle
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25 Apr 2017 16:28

To the SpaceEngine community,

Hi guys! My name is Danielle LeMieux, I’m an anthropologist of space, social media, and futures, and I would love to chat with you and hear your thoughts!

I’m a US-Australian anthropologist currently doing research for my PhD with the University of Adelaide, Australia. I’m researching what goes on at the intersections of the space industry/its communities and social/new media. I work with people and groups in the US, Australia, and online, conducting interviews and participant observation (hanging out with people while they work, and participating and/or observing). Participants include: space scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, students, advocacy organisations, science communicators, social media personalities, aspiring astronauts, fan & public groups/networks, general members of the public, space artists and space-related architectural/concept/future designers, from all around the world. I focus on issues like imagination and future-making, communication and representation (visualisations, interactive, immersive, or multimodal representations), changing publics, and social media for science communication, engagement, participation, and collaboration, at levels of infrastructures and practices. I’m interested in exploring with people themes of the possibilities and relationships between humans and space, and humans and technology. My research is also supplemented with some social network mapping and social media/discourse analysis, particularly to explore how space projects/organisations/actors use social/new media and what strategies work well, how information and media objects move through social networks, and how people/publics access and engage with such information and objects.

So SpaceEngine, and its community, are so interesting and exciting to me as a researcher who is passionate about all these issues and areas. It’s such a cool case of engagement in space – as an accessible and fun game that allows its user community to virtually explore space, that is also based on astronomical data, which provides opportunities to engage with space science, learn, and even fact-check the professional space community!

I would love to spend some time chatting with the SE community about these ideas and about your thoughts and experiences, for my research. I have included some discussion topics and questions below. You can get involved in discussions here within this thread, or if you’d feel more comfortable talking privately, I can run informal interviews over email, Skype, or Hangouts. You can also PM me if you have any suggestions, questions, or concerns you’d like to raise!
email: [email protected]   Skype: Danielle_LeMieux   Hangouts: [email protected]  

My discussion/interview data includes transcripts and/or my own personal notes, and participants and groups are anonymised/deidentified in write-up unless you particularly want to be identified and give me explicit written permission to do so. Data I collect will go to inform my analysis, writing, and outreach activities, with the aim being to produce a thesis, along with academic and popular/open-access articles and presentations. *Participants must be 18 or over*

You can find out more about my research at: www.daniellelemieux.com. Participants should read & sign the Participant Information & Consent Form (Google Doc): https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ijzRPj1kUTumCN04F48R86Xx-CFaMcwEuR1B2S5SbQo.  

Please, if you’re interested in getting involved, don’t hesitate to contact me/reach out with any suggestions, questions or concerns you might have. If you’d like to jump straight in, please read and sign the info/consent form and we can start discussing some cool ideas! I’d also love to hear about any events or projects coming up in the community that you think might be relevant and that you might be willing to let me observe. Feel free to share my project info with anyone else in the community you think might be interested!

Thank you so much for your time, guys, I really look forward to meeting and doing great research with you!

Danielle
 
Questions/discussion topics
this is meant to be a broad jumping off point, feel free to focus on issues that you think are important and interesting, or suggest others that you think I’ve missed. I’d love to hear all about your thoughts, opinions, experiences, and meanings – please don’t worry about whether your answers are correct, complete or perfect, that’s not the goal here. I’m interested in learning about your practices – what you do and what it means to/for you.


  • Why space? What does it mean to you? Why does it interest you? What inspired you or sparked your original interest?
  • Your information & communication practices: How do you personally follow, learn about, and participate in space technology, science, and projects? Do you work or volunteer on any projects? How? Do you play any other space-related games? Lists, examples, or links are great and very much appreciated! How do you stay up-to-date with the space-related news and events that interest you? What news sites do you check, what newsletters do you subscribe to, what chats do you run, which podcasts and livestreams do you listen to/watch, which accounts, people, institutions, projects do you follow on social media, which channels and platforms? How do you learn new things to do with space? How do you access and share resources? What do your networks look like? How many people do you interact with? What kinds of content do you produce and share?
  • SpaceEngine – why do you like it? Why and how do you use it? What do you think you learn, access, or ‘get’ out of it? How do you play and interact with others in the community (eg. Discussions on other forums or chat services, making/sharing mods, sharing music, sharing scientific or educational resources, etc.)?
  • Past, present, future possibilities for Humans: 1. Living and working with space and the environment; 2. Living and working with technology. What are contemporary issues in the space industry and its communities? What moments, events, people, organisations, companies, technologies, places, etc. were important or significant in the past? What about now? What about in the future – what do you think will be important? What possibilities and visions for the future of humans & space, humans & technology do you think would be the best? Worst? Most likely? Based on what – ie., how could we guarantee or avoid them? Have your visions or ideas been influenced by anything (like popular news stories, policy documents, movies or books, etc.)? Histories, stories, wild speculation, maps, links, videos, etc. are all great!!
 
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26 Apr 2017 08:06

Here is to hoping you get at least a couple responses 
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Anthro_Danielle
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26 Apr 2017 18:57

Thanks man, I appreciate it! It is a big ask though, I know. I'm sure everyone is super busy, but I'll keep my fingers crossed! :)
 
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26 Apr 2017 23:58

Anthro_Danielle wrote:
To the SpaceEngine community,

Hi guys! My name is Danielle LeMieux, I’m an anthropologist of space, social media, and futures, and I would love to chat with you and hear your thoughts!

Welcome! I hope you enjoy it here. :)

  • Why space? What does it mean to you? Why does it interest you? What inspired you or sparked your original interest?

Why space? To escape Earth, to be honest. What does it mean to me? To me, space has both scientific and spiritual meaning. Scientific, because a) I enjoy learning exciting new stuff about extrasolar planets, especially circumbinary planets and how things would work on a (hopefully) much greener Tatooine. The spiritual meaning of space for me is more based on new age beliefs, with modernized interpretations of current and ancient sects.

Space interests me because I see it as humanity's future, but also as a place to be conquered, in addition to being explored. And the obvious, of course, the eye candy. ;) My original inspirations was from growing up watching Star Trek, with Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision and message of a united humanity and encountering the new sights and sounds and drama of space exploration. My inspiration for the conquest part is probably from playing Sid Meier's Civilization. ;)

  • Your information & communication practices: How do you personally follow, learn about, and participate in space technology, science, and projects? Do you work or volunteer on any projects? How? Do you play any other space-related games? Lists, examples, or links are great and very much appreciated! How do you stay up-to-date with the space-related news and events that interest you? What news sites do you check, what newsletters do you subscribe to, what chats do you run, which podcasts and livestreams do you listen to/watch, which accounts, people, institutions, projects do you follow on social media, which channels and platforms? How do you learn new things to do with space? How do you access and share resources? What do your networks look like? How many people do you interact with? What kinds of content do you produce and share?

My main form of interaction and learning is following scientists, astronauts, and news sources on Twitter and Facebook, as well as the occasional glance on arXive.org. Right now, I don't subscribe to podcasts or newsletters, mainly due to lack of interest. For projects, I mainly focus on creative worldbuilding, where I use Space Engine as my means to create the alien planets I imagine. I generally produce content for not just Space Engine, but also for an older version of Sid Meier's Civiliation, and for the online game NationStates, which is where I post my storylines involving my worldbuilding. I have space-related content for Sims games as well, but I generally keep those to myself.

  • SpaceEngine – why do you like it? Why and how do you use it? What do you think you learn, access, or ‘get’ out of it? How do you play and interact with others in the community (eg. Discussions on other forums or chat services, making/sharing mods, sharing music, sharing scientific or educational resources, etc.)?

I like it because it is better than an older program I used to use in so many ways. I use it mainly for creative worldbuilding, but also to combine with my childhood hobby, airline aviation, so I made aeroplanes with warp drive to make my travels more interesting when I explore the procedurally generated parts of the Space Engine universe. For interacting with the community, I generally infrequently post screenshots or updates to my mods, and spend most of my time lurking around.

  • Past, present, future possibilities for Humans: 1. Living and working with space and the environment; 2. Living and working with technology. What are contemporary issues in the space industry and its communities? What moments, events, people, organisations, companies, technologies, places, etc. were important or significant in the past? What about now? What about in the future – what do you think will be important? What possibilities and visions for the future of humans & space, humans & technology do you think would be the best? Worst? Most likely? Based on what – ie., how could we guarantee or avoid them? Have your visions or ideas been influenced by anything (like popular news stories, policy documents, movies or books, etc.)? Histories, stories, wild speculation, maps, links, videos, etc. are all great!!

Not gonna lie, I am extremely pessimistic about our future in space. for 1. Living and working in the space environment is extremely difficult to begin with, and I am less hopeful about deep space prospects, as I believe the challenges are simply impossible to overcome, no matter how much technology and resources are available. For 2, Living and working with technology, from what I understand about current knowledge and physics, unless warp drive and the prereqisite "exotic matter" or "negative mass" are somehow achieved, I seriously believe we will not be able to go anywhere *without* warp drive. My observation is that space is just too dangerous to go without it. And on top of that, even if we do get warp drive, I seriously doubt we can achieve the "casual" faster-than-light travel as seen in so many soft sci fi genres, like Star Trek and Star Wars, as going to Deneb 3000 light years away and being home in time for dinner probably just won't happen, thanks to time dilation.

For past tech, atomic energy and weaponry are actually extremely important, and will still be in the future. Energy: It is so much more cleaner, more reliable, and more compact than all the chemical-based energy we use today. Weaponry: Unless we encounter an enemy with magic invincibility force fields, nuclear weaponry will probably be an extremely important line of defense and deterrent. In addition to that, I believe more practical, non-weapon use of nuclear bombs will also be important in the future of space exploration. *Especially* if we can fix the issues with fallout and radiation in more timely manners than today.

For the issues we will face in future space exploration, the one thing that NASA and ESA are hell-bent on avoiding is biological contamination. While ideally and on paper it is a good idea to avoid it; the fact is, biological contamination is just an unavoidable part of life, plain and simple. You can dump and burn only so many probes into gas planets for so long, but contamination is, unfortunately, almost completely unavoidable. Worst case scenario is similar to what we are already experiencing in parts of the world: highly resistant strains of bacteria. For one example, NASA's E-Mist program revealed that while 99.9999% of 40 million samples survived a 2015 balloon flight ( https://www.nasa.gov/feature/ames/ninet ... te-on-mars ), some still managed to survive, with some genetic changes too. I still support the efforts, as any reduction in contamination is still better than no reduction at all.

As for my visions and ideas, they have all been inspired by numerous settings in both Science fiction (Trek) and high fantasy (Lord of The Rings), and so have really played a huge role in my world building, as I'm honestly not fond at all of the "rules" of the way the real world universe works.

Finally, as for possibilities, best vs worst: The best possibility I can imagine is a permanent human presence in space, with at least us "baseline" humans being able to survive to the end of the universe. The worst possibility I can imagine is human extinction within 1000 years or less, regardless of leaving the planet or not. The only possibility I can all but guarantee will happen is the Earth's climate will be a lot more harsher than today, regardless of temperature.
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Anthro_Danielle
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28 Apr 2017 16:40

Hi PlutonianEmpire!

It's so lovely to meet you, and thank you so much for taking the time to share your interesting thoughts, ideas, and experiences with me. I really appreciate the effort you went to, and enjoyed reading all your responses!

I'd love to ask some follow-up questions, explore some ideas, and push at some of your intuitions a little bit, if you'd be interested in continuing the discussion, though of course you do not have to! Just in case though, I'll include some of my queries below :)

Why space? You mentioned that a big motivation was to escape Earth. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that, and why it matters. I feel like you come back to these kinds of ideas by the end of your post too, when you mention visions and ideas, inspirations, and best and worst possibilities for futures of human space exploration. I'm really interested in exploring some of the underlying ideas in a bit more depth! So for example, why do we (humans), need to escape? What is it that we'd be getting away from, and what is it that we would be pursuing or finding in space? Why, too, do you think space is a place 'to be conquered' - what kinds of things would conquering space involve, and why should we do it? Ie., what exactly does it get us? What's the difference between conquering and exploring?

You say that you think a permanent human presence in space, "with at least us "baseline" humans being able to survive to the end of the universe" would be the best outcome you could imagine - I would love to unpack that a bit and hear more about it from you! I'm not disagreeing with you at all, but hoping to better understand your train of thought. I guess I feel like there are a few big questions in there? Like, why would or do we want to survive till the end of the universe? Most likely neither you nor I, as individuals, will do this, so I assume you're talking about 'us' and 'we' at a species sort of level. Why is thinking about things at this level important? Why does it matter that the species continue 'till the end'? Why is human species extinction within 1000 years, rather than in a longer timeframe, bad specifically? I was also wondering what exactly you meant by 'baseline' humans, and that their survival constituted minimum conditions for satisfaction ("at least") - what would be better than that? What would such a scenario look like?

You describe the appeal of SE and some other games as tools to help you with creative worldbuilding - if you were willing, I would love to hear more about the worlds you build! What kinds of places, life forms, planets, stories, systems, etc. do you imagine, build, and share with people? What are your favourites? Of them, which do you think are popular with other people? Why? You mentioned a few sources as being particularly inspirational to you - Star Trek and LotR - what do you think you've taken from them? Social systems? Aesthetics? Technologies? Physics? You said you don't always like the 'real world universe' and its 'rules' - what rules do you mean? Why don't you like them - what is it that you would prefer that you find or craft in yours or others' stories?

I hope this doesn't feel too much like an interrogation! I had a lot of fun reading your responses, and I'd love to hear more if you feel like sharing. If not, that's fine too, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share and write this out for me, I feel like I learned a lot! I hope I can hear from more people in the SE community in the coming days and weeks, I'm sure so many people here have some fascinating experiences, knowledge-bases, and worldviews!

Thanks again, PlutonianEmpire, this was so great!
 
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28 Apr 2017 19:58

Anthro_Danielle wrote:
Hi PlutonianEmpire!

It's so lovely to meet you, and thank you so much for taking the time to share your interesting thoughts, ideas, and experiences with me. I really appreciate the effort you went to, and enjoyed reading all your responses!

Thank you, you too. And you're welcome! A question of my own,

I'd love to ask some follow-up questions, explore some ideas, and push at some of your intuitions a little bit, if you'd be interested in continuing the discussion, though of course you do not have to! Just in case though, I'll include some of my queries below :)

Why space? You mentioned that a big motivation was to escape Earth. I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on that, and why it matters. I feel like you come back to these kinds of ideas by the end of your post too, when you mention visions and ideas, inspirations, and best and worst possibilities for futures of human space exploration. I'm really interested in exploring some of the underlying ideas in a bit more depth! So for example, why do we (humans), need to escape? What is it that we'd be getting away from, and what is it that we would be pursuing or finding in space? Why, too, do you think space is a place 'to be conquered' - what kinds of things would conquering space involve, and why should we do it? Ie., what exactly does it get us? What's the difference between conquering and exploring?

My own reasons for wanting to escape Earth are mainly personal, really. It's mainly to do with unhappiness with the state of affairs and as well as the quality of my personal life. I often romanticize it as a way of running away from my problems and just seeking infinite utopia of some sort. As for a need for escapism, it is one of many ways we can cope with the daily grinds of daily life. Psychologically healthy for some, not so much for others.

As for conquering space, it's more of a personal wish of mine for humanity's future, mainly because I think conquest and imperialism is exciting or glorious in some way. Most likely in reality, conquest will simply just earn us resentment from other aliens, should they exist. Most certainly exploration should be a higher priority than conquest, as quite frankly, humans historically have tended to be jerks about it, especially military personnel. While I do wish "nice" conquest was a thing, it really isn't. It involves high casualties, higher injuries, countless destroyed families on both invading and defending sides, and even more so if WMD's are involved, such as nukes or death stars. So really, my logical brain tells me we shouldn't, even though my emotional heart really wants "military excitement," so to speak.

You say that you think a permanent human presence in space, "with at least us "baseline" humans being able to survive to the end of the universe" would be the best outcome you could imagine - I would love to unpack that a bit and hear more about it from you! I'm not disagreeing with you at all, but hoping to better understand your train of thought. I guess I feel like there are a few big questions in there? Like, why would or do we want to survive till the end of the universe? Most likely neither you nor I, as individuals, will do this, so I assume you're talking about 'us' and 'we' at a species sort of level. Why is thinking about things at this level important? Why does it matter that the species continue 'till the end'? Why is human species extinction within 1000 years, rather than in a longer timeframe, bad specifically? I was also wondering what exactly you meant by 'baseline' humans, and that their survival constituted minimum conditions for satisfaction ("at least") - what would be better than that? What would such a scenario look like?


Most of this is emotional reasoning on my part, partially influenced by survival instinct. Again, I grew up watching shows like Star Trek, which often involve long time frames. A lot of people like to just think in the moment. I don't. I think ahead *a lot*. This is one of many reasons I'm concerned about things like global warming, global politics, and so forth, even though I myself am just some puny human in some basement somewhere (fortunately, not my mother's ;)  :lol: ) with no real influence on anything except the video games I play.

I say human extinction within 1000 years more as personal speculation, mainly out of fear and survival instinct, more than anything else. Like a lot of people, I don't like to imagine something -- anything -- as not being forever or "status quo" in some way. As for "baseline" humans, I am referring to modern homo sapiens sapiens as we know ourselves today. While I would certainly support people who wish to take their own paths and enhance themselves either mechanically or biologically in some way, especially to better adapt to alien environments, I just think that having both "us" humans and "them" humans coexist in space helps promote species diversity. It is for this reason that I believe will help us better adapt to long-term space habitation and survive as a whole, especially alien planets with much different characteristics than our own world.

On top of that, I personally feel that in some distant future, 21st century homo sapiens sapiens still existing as an interstellar or even intergalactic species would provide some form of cultural awe or wonder for the youth of some future evolutionary branch of humans, to know that their ancestors are still around. I think that might be similar to how the youth of today may be fascinated about Native Americans, or the Aboriginal Natives of Australia, or even Africans, people whose cultures are many thousands of years old. :)

You describe the appeal of SE and some other games as tools to help you with creative worldbuilding - if you were willing, I would love to hear more about the worlds you build! What kinds of places, life forms, planets, stories, systems, etc. do you imagine, build, and share with people? What are your favourites? Of them, which do you think are popular with other people? Why? You mentioned a few sources as being particularly inspirational to you - Star Trek and LotR - what do you think you've taken from them? Social systems? Aesthetics? Technologies? Physics? You said you don't always like the 'real world universe' and its 'rules' - what rules do you mean? Why don't you like them - what is it that you would prefer that you find or craft in yours or others' stories?


Actually that's one of my bigger issues I'm still needing to learn to overcome. So far I've focused on the macro details, like the planets, the kind of stars they orbit, orbital properties, climate characteristics, etc. Although I have eked out some micro details, such as a parasite that feasts on a humanoid's reproductive organ and kills him or her from there, in one of my universes. In another universe that is a spinoff from the first, every planet has its own "fingerprint" in the form of a global scent noticeable only to non-natives, since natives are desensitized. These fingerprints can change based on the spiritual and cultural evolution of that planet's inhabitants. At the start of an 11,000 word novellette I wrote for that universe, the Earth's air smells literally like blood to space aliens. On the homeworld of the secondary protagonist, her world smells like the flower lavender.

My favorite is my first universe, upon which my username is named after. ;) Right now, there are a *lot* more details to it since it has been around much longer (since I was in High School, I'm 32 now). I'm on the second version of its history, since I reread my first timeline and I disliked it. I generally keep it to myself except on an online political browser game since it is blatantly "author self insert" and I fear being judged and/or completely ignored, although I came out of my comfort zone enough to start posting mods for this universe here on the SE forum. Right now I'm focusing on building up the story line and character backgrounds around my Royal Family my fictional self spawned. Naturally, I modded my Sims game to better support the project as well. :)

I do imagine its spinoff universe, the one that isn't "author self insert" would be more popular because of just that: that I didn't insert myself into it. That one hosts my favorite non-Sol planet, a circumbinary jungle planet with two suns and two moons, orbiting a star 35 light years away. This star actually exists, BTW: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_Trianguli . Just not the planets I made for it, lol.

The "TPE" Universe origins is because of my disdains for current rules and social orders here on Earth and in our Universe. I'd rather not go into details about my disdain for the social orders here, but my disdain for the rules of the universe are based mainly from having grown up with Star Trek. I hear time and time again from professional astronomers and scientists how Trek style casual FTL travel *without time dilation* is impossible in some way. It is quite discouraging, to me anyway, to hear that, even if I know they are most likely right. Yes they always add the disclaimer that nothing is truly impossible, but I don't feel it is enough, to be honest.

As for the LoTR side of things, my mother is really into paranormal stuff and so forth, so that has kinda rubbed off on me, so after watching the LoTR film trilogies, and of course having grew up watching Disney movies as a kid, I've always enjoyed the idea of having magical and/or divine abilities to control the world and universe around you. So a few years ago I incorporated a magic system to my TPE universe, because visual, "Hollywoodized" magic actually is completely impossible in our world and universe, another aspect I don't like about our universe.

I hope this doesn't feel too much like an interrogation! I had a lot of fun reading your responses, and I'd love to hear more if you feel like sharing. If not, that's fine too, and I really appreciate you taking the time to share and write this out for me, I feel like I learned a lot! I hope I can hear from more people in the SE community in the coming days and weeks, I'm sure so many people here have some fascinating experiences, knowledge-bases, and worldviews!

Not at all! I enjoy being able to talk about my creative side. :)

Thanks again, PlutonianEmpire, this was so great!

You're welcome! I hope I have at least helped somehow. :)
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Anthro_Danielle
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01 May 2017 17:42

PlutonianEmpire,

This has been so great, thank you so much! Thank you, for taking the time to reply so considerately and carefully. It's so interesting, and I do feel like I understand what you mean and where you're coming from much better now!

I wonder, how do you feel that these kinds of games and environments help you to learn, or to imagine? How does using them fit into your cognitive or creative processes? As an example, if you're a story writer, I assume you're primarily working with written text/words. How does building and getting to see stories and worlds and contexts visually or physically, affect things? Does it help you to imagine things? Does it help you check for consistency or gaps as a story-writer? Or does it create emotional connections or a sense of 'being there' for you? Do you learn or think of things that you wouldn't otherwise, when you're playing games, building worlds, making mods, virtually travelling and exploring, etc? I don't want to lead you too much with my questions, I just think it's really cool how you use so many different games and tools in different modes, to build up and explore the same places you've created, and I wonder what it is exactly that you get out of/access from each of the different tools/games/environments.

When you do invent, build, explore, and 'escape' in these contexts, how do you see these imagined places/times relating to reality? Do you imagine them as a possibility in some sense? Or more fantasy? Do you think that for people playing in, or making these worlds, it changes or affects what they do in the world (ie., other actions, decisions, or projects, outside of the game context)? Do you think these experience make the futures being depicted in any way more likely or possible, or do you think it's more targeting the level of fun, stress relief, psychological management, etc.?

Also - and this is a little lighter - have you ever read Stross' Accelerando? I feel like that addresses some of the themes and ideas you raised in interesting ways, if you haven't already read it (the changing human, people's relationships to ancestors, and across long time scales, elements of magical-like capability through virtual reality, etc.). Or, have you ever played Numenera? It's a tabletop RPG with a setting that allows for 'magic', but it's technological - I think the environment is saturated with nanites or something similar so properly hooked in people can be tech-wizards. You've probably already heard of them, but if not, I thought they might be up your alley? I enjoyed them, anyway!

Thank you again for your interesting ideas and discussion, it's really interesting to hear about how you use these applications to tell a bigger story!!

Hope you're having a lovely week :) Take care!!
 
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02 May 2017 11:34

Hi Danielle!

I may come back here and give you a proper answer to your questions at some point, but for now, I thought you would be interested in the TMRO show, a weekly live-streamed talk show about all things space. I thought of it because your questions are very similar to the questions they ask their guests at the end of most interviews.

The community in the weekly chatroom there is just as engaged as this one, but takes a different approach that you might also find interesting. Finally, the real reason I decided to point you in their direction is because your research sounds fascinating, and perhaps you might consider appearing on the show if it's mutually interesting.

TMRO website
 
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02 May 2017 16:22

Anthro_Danielle wrote:
PlutonianEmpire,

This has been so great, thank you so much! Thank you, for taking the time to reply so considerately and carefully. It's so interesting, and I do feel like I understand what you mean and where you're coming from much better now!


You're welcome!

I wonder, how do you feel that these kinds of games and environments help you to learn, or to imagine? How does using them fit into your cognitive or creative processes? As an example, if you're a story writer, I assume you're primarily working with written text/words. How does building and getting to see stories and worlds and contexts visually or physically, affect things? Does it help you to imagine things? Does it help you check for consistency or gaps as a story-writer? Or does it create emotional connections or a sense of 'being there' for you? Do you learn or think of things that you wouldn't otherwise, when you're playing games, building worlds, making mods, virtually travelling and exploring, etc? I don't want to lead you too much with my questions, I just think it's really cool how you use so many different games and tools in different modes, to build up and explore the same places you've created, and I wonder what it is exactly that you get out of/access from each of the different tools/games/environments.


Actually, I'm not always the best with words, as I do much better with visual representations and learning. So yes, it does indeed help me to imagine things. The hard part for me is putting both my imagination and the stuff I see/experience into words, so writing novels are not much my thing. Rather, I try to make my stuff either more visual like with screenshots, in a historical account, or in the form of "wiki-style" information pages, which is what I seem to be most enthusiastic about when putting stuff online, afaik.

Part of what also helps me learn, is the random nature of open ended games such as Sims, NationStates, and a few others, as it does happen often where something will come up that I haven't though of before and give me a new idea. Alternatively, I'll have thought of said something, but couldn't figure out how to implement it until said random event in the games.

As for what I get out of them, mainly the fun and escapism part, although I've always been hesitant to share them, due to social anxiety, fear of judgement/rejection, and the fact that my stories tend contain some darker, more taboo elements of adult life. Plus when I see the work of others, I feel intimidated and not good enough to post them sometimes, which can trigger extremely long periods of wait times when I do post updates to existing work or upload new work.

When you do invent, build, explore, and 'escape' in these contexts, how do you see these imagined places/times relating to reality? Do you imagine them as a possibility in some sense? Or more fantasy? Do you think that for people playing in, or making these worlds, it changes or affects what they do in the world (ie., other actions, decisions, or projects, outside of the game context)? Do you think these experience make the futures being depicted in any way more likely or possible, or do you think it's more targeting the level of fun, stress relief, psychological management, etc.?


Definitely on the fantasy side for me, and although I don't actually post my stuff online all that often, I do try to make them target the fun and stress relief. And I can't really speak for others how it changes their behavior outside of the games, there have been posts on here how Space Engine, especially when viewed through Virtual Reality hardware, gave them a psychological effect caused by the lack of political borders when viewing Earth from low orbit, called the Overview Effect.

Also - and this is a little lighter - have you ever read Stross' Accelerando? I feel like that addresses some of the themes and ideas you raised in interesting ways, if you haven't already read it (the changing human, people's relationships to ancestors, and across long time scales, elements of magical-like capability through virtual reality, etc.). Or, have you ever played Numenera? It's a tabletop RPG with a setting that allows for 'magic', but it's technological - I think the environment is saturated with nanites or something similar so properly hooked in people can be tech-wizards. You've probably already heard of them, but if not, I thought they might be up your alley? I enjoyed them, anyway!


I actually haven't heard of Accelerando, but vaguely recall hearing the name Numera. Thank you for the suggestions! :)

Thank you again for your interesting ideas and discussion, it's really interesting to hear about how you use these applications to tell a bigger story!!

Hope you're having a lovely week :) Take care!!

You're welcome, and thank you for the well wishes. :)
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Voekoevaka
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05 May 2017 01:46


  • Why space? What does it mean to you? Why does it interest you? What inspired you or sparked your original interest?


    Since childhood, I felt a deep fascination for things that are unconceivable for the mind, for things that are fundamental, for explainations and for non habitual thoughts. I thought that the sum of the things that I knowed, my day-do-day life, end all humanity was just a small part of all that exists. But, just from looking at the sky and from reading books, I understood that stars, galaxies, and planets are everywhere around us, ant all of this is real. So I felt it is important to know the stars, and space gave me shivers due to it's size and due to the apparent strangeness of the objects that lays there. This is so far from everyday life.


    Your information & communication practices: How do you personally follow, learn about, and participate in space technology, science, and projects? Do you work or volunteer on any projects? How? Do you play any other space-related games? Lists, examples, or links are great and very much appreciated! How do you stay up-to-date with the space-related news and events that interest you? What news sites do you check, what newsletters do you subscribe to, what chats do you run, which podcasts and livestreams do you listen to/watch, which accounts, people, institutions, projects do you follow on social media, which channels and platforms? How do you learn new things to do with space? How do you access and share resources? What do your networks look like? How many people do you interact with? What kinds of content do you produce and share?
I often read space science stuff, among others, mostly on the internet (but I have no routine about that, I can search everywhere), as I like to know better the objects surrounding us, and learn about new types of objects. I have tons of other projects (math, music composition, radio managing, website managing, a little programming, drawing, writing, reading, and also, worldbuilding), so I don't spend time on other space games, because Space Engine is the one that fits for me.
To give an example of one space podcast I follow, there's a french youtube channel I like to watch, dealing with space news : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYxX9BKgQ90



    SpaceEngine – why do you like it? Why and how do you use it? What do you think you learn, access, or ‘get’ out of it? How do you play and interact with others in the community (eg. Discussions on other forums or chat services, making/sharing mods, sharing music, sharing scientific or educational resources, etc.)?As a kid, I loved planetariums so much, and having a "toy" for exploring the sky was a daydream. Later, I found Celestia, one of the old "spiritual fathers" of Space Engine. I spend much time on it, downloading a lot of addons to fell more and more free to explore things. But this software was limited, and it has a big lack of something : procedural generation. Then I found Space Engine and it was exactly what I wanted ! I used to share a lot of mods on the forum, but then I was very busy. They will come back soon !Past, present, future possibilities for Humans: 1. Living and working with space and the environment; 2. Living and working with technology. What are contemporary issues in the space industry and its communities? What moments, events, people, organisations, companies, technologies, places, etc. were important or significant in the past? What about now? What about in the future – what do you think will be important? What possibilities and visions for the future of humans & space, humans & technology do you think would be the best? Worst? Most likely? Based on what – ie., how could we guarantee or avoid them? Have your visions or ideas been influenced by anything (like popular news stories, policy documents, movies or books, etc.)? Histories, stories, wild speculation, maps, links, videos, etc. are all great!!Ah, the future. I don't have certitude about how the future will be. It feels kind of scary as the industry is burning the planet, and we need to change a lot of things in the economics to limitate the problems. Also, for me, technology is neutral, neither bad or good. It depends on the people that use it.
If you wanna hear some of my music : https://voekoevaka.bandcamp.com/
 
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Banana
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05 May 2017 17:02

 Why space? What does it mean to you? Why does it interest you? What inspired you or sparked your original interest?


Space is captivating. The various physical mysteries that occur throughout the universe particularly interest me. Space contains an incredible assortment of interesting physics, many of which cannot be found on Earth. Space seems like a perfect example of unexplored terrain filled with extraordinary concepts to capture the mind. My interest in astronomy began in my childhood, after I had first learned of such astrophysical phenomena as black holes and neutron stars.
Bananas are eggcellent.
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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05 May 2017 21:23

Hey Destructor1701, it's great to meet you!

Thanks for taking the time to reply, and I do hope we get to chat more sometime later! I am so on board with the TMRO suggestion, what a wonderful idea! I've worked with someone from the show before, but could absolutely stand to get more involved with the team, and I haven't spent any time at all with the online chatroom community there.

You've motivated me - I'll look into it this week! Maybe you'll see me on there oneday! Thanks so much for your input, I really appreciate it. Have a great weekend!
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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08 May 2017 15:04

Hey PlutonianEmpire - so good to hear from you again!! Thanks so much for taking the time to have such a cool conversation with me, it's great to get to follow questions and thoughts beyond a single exchange :)

I appreciate you sharing more details about your creative process with me. It's interesting to hear about the different ways you can use the environment to generate and test stories, as well as communicate them to others, and interesting too the different kinds of storytelling this allows for (eg. pseudo-factual/historical accounts), and the element of novelty that you mentioned (ie., that it can help you think of new things you hadn't thought of before, or new ways of working around problems).

It's so interesting that you brought up the overview effect, and I'm really glad you did! In talking about space, human presence in space, and how it affects our understandings of the Earth, people often emphasise the central role of the visual - being able to *see* things (life, earth, us) from a new perspective or point of view. And now of course we have so many ways of visually accessing new points of view on these things, from real-time livestreams of views of the Earth from the ISS or of a launch, to ways of viewing and exploring fantastical spaces that might be in simulations or games. I've often wondered how having this kind of access, ability to /see/ new things in new ways might change or affect the ways we can think, imagine, learn, or do things! But one thing I have noticed astronauts say is that a key element of the overview effect for them, aside from just the seeing, is the fact of 'being there' fully, being in space in such a way that allows you to more fully comprehend these profound feelings and concepts. So this, I think, makes the possibilities of VR-enabled access /suuuper/ interesting - is the level of immersion and presence enabled by these technologies sufficient or comparable in anyway to being physically there, psychologically speaking? How can we push that, test, and explore it? Obviously I don't have the answers, but I think the questions are so interesting, and I'd love to look into it further and hear more of your - and everyone else's too - thoughts about it!

Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and time with me!!
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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08 May 2017 15:50

Hi Voekoevaka,

It's so great to meet you! Thanks for taking the time to share some of your experiences and thoughts with me, it's wonderful to hear them! I think it's really interesting that you explain the appeal of space for you partially in terms of that element of mysterious difference (something so different to everyday life as to almost be inconceivable), but that this doesn't make it fantastical - rather, it's a way to better understand/comprehend and connect with reality - that most of reality comprises objects very different to most of our everyday experiences. At least, that's how I read what you said, do you think that that's a fair reading? If I've missed a nuance there please do let me know, I'd like to know exactly what you mean!

Thank you for sharing some more details about your information, communication, and creative practices! The podcast looks great though I must admit in that case I am limited by my romance language (in)ability and probably wouldn't understand most of it. What kinds of mods do you make, when you do? What kinds of things do you focus on? And you mentioned that the appeal of SE is that it features procedural generation - why exactly is that so appealing for you as a user or player, compared to other games that don't offer that?

Talking about futures and possibilities, I think you raise some really good and interesting points - that there are many complex, systemic issues that need addressing if we were to achieve many of the futures that we want, and also that the value of technology changes with context of use. If you feel like expanding on or discussing these ideas further I'd love to chat with you more!

Thanks so much for your time, Voekoevaka, and I hope we can chat again sometime!
 
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Anthro_Danielle
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08 May 2017 16:01

Hi Banana,

Thanks for replying! It was really interesting to hear your perspective on what is interesting and engaging about space for you. If I'm understanding you correctly, it is particularly interesting for you conceptually or metaphysically, in that there are many engaging phenomena, processes, laws to learn about that are very different to those in the scale and context of our lives (?). I wonder if you would be willing to chat a bit about how you engage then, with these concepts and interests? Do you work in the field of astrophysics? Pursue it as a hobby? I'd love to hear about how you learn and engage, and how SpaceEngine, and other games, media, and web content fit into that picture.

Thanks so much for taking the time to entertain my questions! No pressure, but if you're interested in discussing things further I'd love to chat some more~

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