🌏 Sci-Fi Labs Federated Worldbuilding

(I create this in Vision category, but has a strong relation to #community building if we like the idea…)


In the context of the Fedijam’s that are organized by @houkimenator I posed the idea here, so I’ll just copy:

:earth_asia: Sci-fi Labs Federated Worldbuilding

The other day via iAlja I was pointed to the Science Fiction Economics Lab. It is an initiative of storytelling viable alternatives to Hypercapitalism, which is currently the only game we play. This open community encourages people to join and build alternative worlds and explore radically different concepts together. It hopes to inspire and foster a creative ecosystem of cool spin-off projects to explore new things.

The set up is a bit weird and you have to figure it out. Much of the worldbuilding discussion takes place on a discourse forum. But it gave me 2 ideas:

  1. We might build a world that envisions a mature Fediverse that goes way beyond what we currently have (and will smash the vision of the Metaverse, though that’s not its prime goal).
  2. The Fedijams might take place inside this world, and with the purpose to further enrich it all the time.

The Fedijams wouldn’t change much compared to how they are currently organized, except that with this world in the background they’ve found common ground. There’s more of a uniting factor, and more focus on collaborating on the Fediverse and with other fedizens. The world we started at Sci-Fi Labs is the substrate to which Fedijams are tied.

What’s interesting is that - as the world gets richer - there’s more and more game-building material available. Different storylines to explore, characters to develop, etc. Candidate submission can give different twists to submissions from prior fedijams, maybe completely different perspective, atmosphere and game type. All the narratives and the world itself serve to attract a broader audience to explore further than pure gamejams ever could (they’ll mostly appeal to gamedevs that are able to crank out some game in a week).

On all levels building blocks become available that make Fedijams easier to participate in. On the technical end, if we imagine a future fediverse, there’s a lot of potential if we manage to move from silo-first to task-oriented app design. Where this will lead us might be close to the radical vision of MercuryOS (read also: Introduction to Mercury OS). For fedijams available building blocks might include e.g. some core federation library, so that is doesn’t have to be reinvented for every game submission.

As for setting all this up, instead of the forum associated with sci-fi labs, we might tie this to Fediverse Town for non-technical parts and SocialHub for tech aspects and @Houkime’s Federated Game Store once that shapes up, hence binding communities together.

Fedi today

In the discussion of Let's make 2022 the #YearOfTheFediverse I wasn’t too enthusiastic of re-using this hashtag. First it is not so original, and second, 2021 hasn’t been a good year, imho. Lemme explain… given these two slogans of SocialHub:

  1. United in Diversity
  2. Social Networking Reimagined

We can conclude that there’s much to be desired. On 1) while we have a nice microblogging sphere - if we exclude the bad parts for a bit - it consist of some ‘loose sand’ chatterbox, and all interesting discussion sinks out of sight immediately. What we currently have is still far, far removed from 2) a reimagining of the social fabric online that goes well alongside our IRL world.

There’s some common themes on the fedi, like - what true believers might say - “fedi will revolutionize the internet”, will destroy FB et al in due time, etcetera. Another often heard theme is “outsiders don’t understand what fedi is, and it is too technically focused”. I agree with both to certain extent. The first statement highlights the potential of the fediverse. But when we don’t act on it, it will only be a nice dream. Yet another utopia. The second statement must be addressed, but to me it is not important to focus on making fedi something that will have FB and Birdsite users come to us in droves. At least not until we can handle that, and now we can’t. We need to craft our own story, stand on our own two feet.

On 1) I see the magic to be “Community” and furthering what that means (something I keep repeating as a broken record :wink: ) and with that community we can also address 2), which is hardly happening now. The SocialHub community is very weak and fedi evolution is mostly inward focused app development. Individualism.

There’s a danger in not addressing both slogans. While we are happily moving about in our grassroots communities we are all the time showcasing the corporates that there are business models to monetize. And with Metaverses of all kinds now an accepted concept in the biz world you be assured that corporates are watching.

With all our dreaming of better worlds and brighter futures, but not acting much on building them, we seem blissfully unaware of the danger that - even while we are decentralized / federated - we can still be disrupted thoroughly. From then on both slogans will be shaped by corporate entities and their potental distorted by hypercapitalist greed. As it often goes. We’ll still exist, but in the fringes, where bulletin boards the many nice personal blogs and videos that Google Search doesn’t show you and Youtube doesn’t recommend.

Fediverse Futures: Let’s shape our world

So here’s the idea. With the above in the back of our heads we go full on in shaping a vision for the Fediverse where all fedizens can help make it stronger. With the Sci-Fi Economics Lab we have an opportunity to build upon an initiative that is already laid out, and where we can inspire and affect the worlds that are already being created there by many people. We’ll be the magnificent Andromeda galaxy that will change the constellation of the stars as it collides with the small-minded :wink: present-day Milky Way that is our current perception of things.

Let’s creat a binding narrative to tie the evolution of the Fediverse onto. Fediverse… Federated Universe, right? Let’s explore this universe then. Make it real.

Our existing communities can play a big role in this, and this vision can be a uniting factor to drive things forward. Get some real coordinated effort off the ground.

Very curious about your thoughts :blush:
Am I too ambitious, too dreamy myself? Would love :heart_eyes: to hear your take. Let’s break the barriers of the mind.

(Image credit David Revoy, CC BY-4.0 and sourced from Framasoft Contributopia)

Update: Tooted about this here.


Applopia: App-silo focus, a dogma to avoid

In this context I would also like to mention a phenomenon I often witness. It goes something like this:

  • Person A: “I will build this-and-that federated social app”
  • Person B: “Forget it! It can never compete with Facebook”

There’s a couple shortcomings in this conversation, barriers of the mind, that completely overlook the potential strength of the Fediverse.

First there’s the flawed thinking that we should somehow compete against Facebook. Why would we do that? If the fediverse is good, then people will come. We should grow in our own strength at our own terms and at the pace that we are comfortable with, and that we can handle. But that’s not what I wanted to highlight.

It is the dogmatic thinking in application silo’s. The individualistic notion that each app stands on their own, offers some full-blown social service and then over time happens to also slightly integrate with other app islands, creating fragile bridges in the endless sea of potential interoperability.

I call this - just playfully, mind you! - Applopia: the inability to look beyond app silo’s and explore the broad possibilities.

A single social media software, no matter if it is quite successful like e.g. Mastodon, will not stand a big chance to become as broadly embraced and adopted as current traditional social media platforms. Especially not when still aligning to the values we so love on the fediverse. There’s just too many network effects and FOMO to overcome, and these moloch platforms have too much dominance and power to counteract your moves. Applications on their own stand no chance. However…

The vision of “Social Networking Reimagined” entails that the Fediverse AS A WHOLE will become the viable and humane alternative to overly dominant and toxic social media giants.

Network effects come from the unification of all the unique aspects and experiences that the Fediverse brings together. In order to maximize these network effects we need to streamline these experiences. And that starts with getting rid of our Applopia :partying_face:

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Once again your mind works in ways I can’t really comprehend. :brain: :thinking:

E.g. what exactly do you mean with wordbuilding?

So worldbuilding in this case means building a vision of what the Fediverse could become? Or is it more than that? Building a better world through the Fediverse?

Does that just mean that Fedijams (explanation here) will happen in the envisioned Fediverse? So federating with other platforms in the Fediverse?

This sounds great, but I don’t understand what any of it means.


I have taken this term from the sci-fi labs website, where it seems they mean doing the creative storytelling that allows new ideas to emerge and ripen. It is thinking out-of-the-box kinda exercise if I understand it correctly. So yes, vision for fedi, and who knows what initiatives and projects we can come up with. Most fedizens are in some way or other dedicated to improving the world in small ways already. Building a better world is maybe too ambitious and utopic, but visionary-wise might be nice to dream about :slight_smile:

The relation to Fedijams is just an opportunity to combine efforts. If there, say, 2 fedijams per months they could each stand on their own, completely independent. Or they have this visionary world in the background to draw inspiration from.

I can imagine. The idea is somewhat weird, and when I bumped into the site I had to browse for a while with a “what is this all about?” question for a while. And I think you could consider it a social experiment, where the outcome is not entirely clear and can take many forms. Here’s how they describe their Witness stories:

What makes Witness such a rich and fascinating sci-fi world is that it is truly open source, and we want as many storytellers and artists as possible to help build it. By contributing a story, you make the experience of living in this world come alive.

In a world where it can feel like politicians, economists and business leaders have stopped trying to imagine an economic system other than “late stage capitalism”, the SciFi Economics Lab has been launched to argue that alternatives do exist.

The Lab takes its inspiration from science fiction, not just as a flight of fancy, but as a space to use storytelling, games, artwork and discussion to try out ideas and solutions that fallout outside the mainstream orthodoxy.

Within the SciFi Economics Lab, Witness is the experiment. A mega city floating the oceans of a post-climate collapse world, Witness is divided into “Distrikts”, each with their own culture, ideology and economic systems. Every distrikt is unique, independent, yet interconnected with their neighbours.

We want to see Witness’s distrikts from every angle- both how they are administered or governed, and what they look like from street level. How are ordinary people’s lives changed when their life isn’t governed by chasing a per-hour wage to feed a conveyor belt of bills? What are the alternatives? What could they achieve?


Thanks for the explanation. :slight_smile:
I think I understand it better now.

So the role of the non-techy people of FediverseTown could for example be, to envision use-cases for the Fediverse, ways it isn’t used yet and imagine a non-applopian app that could fulfil that use-case?
And then the techy people of SocialHub could try building such an app if they like the idea.

PS: First I just wanted to do a little meme of the combining worldbuilding and fediverse idea…

With a little imagination this is supposed to look like the Fediverse logo

…but now I’m thinking, why not build an app like townscraper, where every instance could build a little town or city, with a home for everyone on their instance and then the towns/cities interconnect.

PPS: We could call it. Fediverse Town, the Game.


That’s a nice image, love it. Townscraper reminds me a bit of a storybook from my childhood where such a thing was built in comic form, but it is also fitting to the analogy of Spiral Island I wrote for the Fediverse, where the potential is in builiding an ‘archipelago’ of interconnected islands:

I think the way you describe is more or less how it may work. But there’s no need for things to emerge from it immediately, and it is not a ‘project’. More like exploring possibilities, the community that forms with people interested in thinking about such things. And all kinds of creative things can spin off it. Artwork contests, fedivangelism, fedi storytelling, campaigns for those stuck in the old social worlds. Sci-fi imaginations of how fedi looks like in 10 years. Etcetera.

But I see also from the toot I sent out, that many people think 3D virtual worlds. Though that would be great, the worldbuilding can be anything, encompass any activity.

I followed up in a toot, as the sci-fi economics labs also has a research initiative behind it apparently: Edgeryders | Start

Maybe Spiral Island can be our wold, and Fediverse Town be the center of it.

Worldbuilding: Splinterverse islands to Archipelago

We are using language here that fits very well in a worldbuilding storytelling effort, with towns, town square, town hall, cozy houses, etc.

This town can be situated on Spiral Island. The island that all fedizens are building together.

But there are many more people that started nice initiatives related to fedi. Some we may have never heard about, don’t know they even exist. The fediverse that should be United in Diversity, is actually quite a “Splinterverse” of separate lonely islands.

The worldbuilding in this initiative serves to weave them together by storytelling, and as that happens create larger community collaboration and intertwine our efforts. Focus on cross-pollination.

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