2010-10-17 : Academic Juvenalia

In Human Contact, there's lots to admire about Academic society. Like J says they're egalitarian, meritocratic, progressive, rational. But my favorite feature: massively-networked adolescents going to baroque extremes to best one another in the aggressive, demanding, cut-throat game of "ha ha I made you see your own butt."

1. On 2010-10-18, Chris Chinn said:

So, in other words, totally like academia, then.

Except also sending out ships which might possibly wreck entire civilizations.  (which, is also a lot like academia, especially in regards to anthropology and indigenous cultures research...)


2. On 2010-10-18, Robert Bohl said:


I've been using my antagonists and protagonists in this group to make that point.

It's a little unfair, since the only reason there's going to be a story about any particular Contact mission is that something awful happens during it.


3. On 2010-10-19, Joshua A.C. Newman said:

Chris, the question (which of course rages within the Academy) is whether it's worse to be ignorant of other societies or to risk damaging them.

The argument of the Contactors is that cultures always change, especially when they meet other ones. It's the duty of Contactors, therefore, to tread lightly.

N.B.: I only remember one colony where the Colony went unrecognized and were peripheral observers. They don't usually pull off the "treading lightly" part.

There have been many humbling moments for the Contactors, though. Usually it's when they're trying to impress the natives with cigarette lighters or doing other condescending bullshit.


4. On 2010-10-19, Chris Chinn said:

Hi Josh,

I got a lot of the idea when I saw you mentioned Star Trek was an influence.  I'm just amused at Vincent's observation about how petty it gets in the process, which is more human and more interesting than Star Trek's sanitized versions of exploration and cultural contact.

This is also true of how petty decisions do stuff like start wars, cut off medical treatment for thousands, begin terrible disasters due to budget cuts and rushed engineering, etc. The banality of evil, etc.


5. On 2010-10-19, Joshua A.C. Newman said:


There's a problem built right into Kepho-Rn, the Academic language: their word for the destination of an expedition is most easily translated as "colony", like a colony of insects. They started using it before they found other planets and people to explore, so they'd go a planet over and found a "colony", like we would if we went to Mars.

But that turns out to be problematic when there are people there. I leave the solution to such dilemmae as an exercise to the players.


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