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The Otherworld Project • View topic - Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not earthy

Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not earthy

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Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not earthy

Postby Shaun » Tue Jul 19, 2011 7:52 am

I' d like to see us have a discussion of how to keep us from rehashing democracy, totalitarianism and feudalism (etc.) in their earthly forms largely. Often, I become hesitant to develop an idea because it seems too much like something from history. Sure, we use history as a guidel naturally, but I was wondering about how some of you feel we could help assure a certain degree of freshness?
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Michael-on-Ryde » Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:58 am

I can only speak for myself here, but I'm trying to do it by a lot of reading, a willingness to mix-and-match where needed and a little help from serendipity.

Right now, I'm not too sure how much the Ardenic states are down the road to modern democracy. It doesn't seem all that prevalent in Joriscia - and I suspect that Vince's very interesting take on the Vaestic approach to crime and punishment is going to be very informative there, as well as imparting a quite different flavour to eastern totalitarianism. In the west? Participatory democracy as we understand it looks rather limited. Savam is furthest towards it, from the look of things, but Helminthasse has it only at a grassroots level and the Siursk seem to look at it as an accident waiting to happen, while Odann looks too much in the grip of Mother Church for it to get too far.

Pure feudalism is something I'm probably trying to avoid. The whole vibe of the Siur seems to be more in line with Norse practices where allegiance (by men of property, at least) was freely given rather than automatically assumed; and Arlatur is being pushed a little away from its pseudo-Buddhist roots to incorporate some of the feel of Nonconformism and Freethought (well, that's the intention anyway - even if it does come out sounding a bit Pythonesque. "You're a king? Well, I didn't vote for you.") Before the revamp, I did have some notes about how to allow/retrofit into Heimat a kind of "modernised feudalism" (I probably still have them somewhere...)

Of course, I am happy to take the odd unexpected happy discovery and run with it. (The background of Eleftheria in Thora sprang to life almost fully formed from a four-minute film clip on YouTube. A woman called "Freedom" in a country wracked by civil war? Perfect.) A short Wikipedia article on an aspect of 8th-century Irish inheritance law called the derbfine which I saw this week has given me an idea about how to modify Siur practices enough that Evan's ideas about a "clanocracy" can be made viable in #63 or #66. There must be a lot of other stuff like that, frequently obscure, which looks odd only from a mainstream perspective.

But in the final analysis, it is probably enough that we are aware of this possibility and can come up with a good justification for the way in which a particular idea proceeds. Some things we maybe have to accept as a given just to develop a setting that works at all; but if we know that there's an easy (hackneyed) option, we can steel ourselves not to take it.

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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Steven » Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:04 pm

Trying to break down the key concepts we use to communicate political and social organization isn't easy. While most of us will likely tweak the totalitarianism or feudalism we have it makes convenient shorthand. I hope people do challenge their ideas about what these concepts are as they develop their nations. I don't feel democracy is a big concern because no two countries practice their democracy in the same way so there really is no objective democracy. Feudalism is similar into democracy in that each cultural area produced its own versions. As long as players actually think about their institutions and ask why it developed such a way and don't just copy-paste from Wikipedia it should be fine.
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Lois » Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:15 pm

In terms of rehashing RW, I think we've dodged a big bullet by meticulously establishing a background to Arden that is distinctly different. We made an effort in the last version, but didn't follow through as strongly as we could have.

This time around, I find myself working much more organically, playing out an extended line of what-ifs for finding Siur cultural mores and practices. Their version of democracy, for example. The RW part of me shudders a little when I consider universal democracy as a path to ruin, but a sliver of that RW bit sees that statement as pretty darned sensible. So that is the part of my brain I listen to, and it comes up with things that are very different from the stuff I generally think about the RW.

Michael also brings up a good point: looking around, reading elements of history and sociology that aren't "mainstream"--these things help pop us out of our usual points of view, which allows us to build a world that's not a direct RW analog.

I do agree with Steven, though, that at least in OOG, we'll have to use RW terminology as commonly-understood shorthand.


 
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Michael-on-Ryde » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:29 am

I appreciate this isn't "philosophy", but since it fits in with the idea of how we can avoid Terran tropes in the new Arden, I've placed it here. (If anyone thinks it should be moved and can do so, please feel free.)

One important issue that occurred to me which would have worldwide import is the prevalence of computer technology in general, and the Internet in particular. Arden v1 made significant use of it in-game and in the Ardenica - Hoer.zu, my own Ploetzlich, private e-mails between heads of government and diplomatic personnel - but in this new paradigm, I don't think it will work as it did. Even the relatively benign governments of the new Arden seem likely to view the free-for-all of today's Internet with horror. Even the notion of a personal computer strikes me as highly unlikely; the situation of the early 1980s, where even business machines were enormous and most serious processing power was in the hands of governments, seems far more likely. (I saw my first such machine in 1979; it handled stock control for a motor spares dealership and was the size of two household wardrobes.)

The development of computers for military purposes is probably viable - given that we are looking at a world which was in close to a perpetual war footing between 1930 and 1960 - but anything like post-war paranoia could slow down the spread of the technology to the general public, keeping it in the form of the ARPAnet and similar which preceded today's World Wide Web. Perhaps we are only now getting to the point where primitive home computers - the likes of the Sinclair ZX81 or the early Minitel system in France - are becoming prevalent. (That does rather put a block on the idea of smartcard technology as a tool of government surveillance, as in Zemay, but the likes of the KGB and the Stasi managed without such things for years...)

From an RP standpoint, it's perhaps a hindrance - diplomatic communication by secure (?) telephone/telegraph - but maybe that gives more time to develop any face-saving responses :lol:

 
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Reno » Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:39 pm

On the other hand, given that the general structure of a computer network in new Arden i.e. a central server connecting all personal computers, I would say that it would actually make surveillance easier, as a check on the central server would be able to filter out all subversive elements with ease, rather than to tap all phones/letters y human eyes and ears.
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Kolja_LS » Sun Jul 31, 2011 3:46 pm

I can't speak for other countries, but as the developer of one of the aforementioned rather 'benign' countries, I'm pretty sure that Agamar would have an internet-like intranet. It's just too useful a tool not to have. Think of booking train tickets, looking at second hand cars, sending off job applications etc. I see no reason for the Agamari government to withhold such a tool from its citizens. And of course enhanced internal communication is great for the economy. I suppose the development went something like this: A military-developed ARPAnet-like network was opened up for communication between businesses in the 1990s, other developments (personal computing, search engines, advertising your services on-line, social networking) piggy-backed on that. Like I said, it would be an intranet, with no or only minimal connections to networks in other countries. And content would be monitored and 'inappropriate' content censored, of course (in Agamar that includes criticisms of the monarchy, and anything deemed a threat to national security or the nation's moral integrity, among other things).

That said, there might be some kind of limited international network in place on Arden, for functions such as coordinating airplane flight paths or cargo shipments and even, maybe, for communication between national governments. I agree with you that it would probably not resemble the world-wide-web, and would not normally be accessible to 'regular' individuals. But I do think there is an impetus for the development of personal computing. I always believed that one premise of this project is that Arden, for various reasons, is about 10 years behind earth, technologically, in most areas. So personal computers would probably be clunkier and less powerful than the ones we are used to. I don't think they would fill a wardrobe however. :)

 
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Reno » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:00 pm

Well, in about 10 years ago, we already have home consoles that can access the internet, so I guess it would be possible to fill major household with them, if there are political reasons to do so. For Zemay, I think that the console being a "family computer" ( :twisted: ) that is aimed to be a platform for family members to play together would suit well. Also, such network can easily divery people towards things that the government wanted, like facebook with more nationalist campaigns. Though, as most networks would be heavily censored, naturally they would not be connected towards other countries to avoid contaminations.
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Vince » Sun Jul 31, 2011 9:50 pm

I think this is putting the whole thing on rather a bad footing. The very idea of being "ten years behind" Earth implies that there is a single route of development which is followed inexorably in all circumstances, and on this single line Arden is ten years behind Earth. In my notes on technology elsewhere, I've said that Arden would probably be behind Earth in some respects, and ahead in others -- from our perspective. The problem is that the Internet is not a technology -- it is an idea. And it has an ideological grounding as much as it has a technological one. The real Internet is very much a product of two things: the Randian, Objectivist-type ideas which motivated the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of the 1980s and 90s, and the notion of the self-organising system which has an elaborate underpinning in Western thought. Reading your post, Kolja, it strikes me that you take all of this for granted: that it is an obvious development. I fail to see how it is. I'm more inclined to agree with Michael on this.

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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Kolja_LS » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:24 pm


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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Lois » Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:22 pm

I think Vince is right; the Internet isn't technology in itself, it's an implementation of technology. It's the result of an overall mindset that does not, at this point, have an analogue in Arden.

People managed booking tickets, shopping for second-hand cars, even meeting other singles quite well in the pre-internet age. Corporations and governments have had internal networks of varying degrees of complexity and technological advancement since they first came into being. A concept like the internet requires a kind of assumed cooperative attitude among nations and institutions that doesn't appear to exist in Arden. At least not to the extent we see in the RW. It's the same reason an organization like the League of Nations or the UN isn't immediately portable to Arden. That level of cooperation doesn't exist.

It takes more effort on our parts, as player-creators, to be more specific about the technology levels available in Arden, but I feel it's something worth trying. It continues to differentiate Arden from the RW; I've come to strongly believe that an over-reliance on modelling RW "plausibilities" hamstrung a number of us (namely, me) from a creative standpoint. The more we can push away from directly mirroring the RW (within reason), the better.


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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Kolja_LS » Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:55 pm


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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Lois » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:04 am



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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Kolja_LS » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:20 am


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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Lois » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:41 am

Again--it may be viable to have more of a network than I've described, and closer in line with what you originally proposed; I just can't come up with reasons that satisfy me. Maybe others have additional ideas?

This said, I think the scenario above can lend itself to some really engaging corporate-military intrigue, both intra-national and international. :twisted:


 
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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Michael-on-Ryde » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:25 pm

My guess is that this is as far as can be justified given what seems a very largely continent-wide mindset that it's still an elite - however each country defines that term - that decides what is permissible for the masses; the principle that "one person is smart, but people are dumb". Probably some kind of slaved terminals, with the functional equivalent of e-mail restricted to monitored bulletin boards. Possibly the Tapestry (not so much a Web, more a Weave...) is an idea whose time is coming - but I suspect there are too many people worldwide with a vested interest in deferring that time as long as possible!

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Re: Dominant philosophies: or, How Ardenic ideas are not ear

Postby Sébastien » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:57 pm



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