Questionspace: Notes from the NASA/ASU conference “Understanding Literature and Art Cultures for ...

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Questionspace: Notes from the NASA/ASU conference “Understanding Literature and Art Cultures for Transformative Research,” Jan. 14th & 15th, 2014. by Mind Map: Questionspace: Notes from the NASA/ASU conference “Understanding Literature and Art Cultures for Transformative Research,” Jan. 14th & 15th, 2014.

1. Questions about motifs

1.1. How can we track the evolution of ideas and motifs within SF?

1.1.1. How do we understand science fictional concepts with unstable definitions (for example, space opera)? How do we distinguish terms with unstable definitions from more commonly understood terms?

1.1.2. Is there anything new under the sun? Do "new" ideas actually exist?

1.2. How do we expand existing SF motif indexes to cover SF topics of the past 30 years?

1.2.1. Would using Wikipedia's list of emerging technologies be a useful way to expand on Blieler's list of motifs in SF?

1.3. How could the ISFDB be used as a basis to catalog new and evolving SF ideas?

1.3.1. Could one crowdsource the tagging of SF ideas using the ISFDB?

2. Questions of Culture & Nationality

2.1. How do we search for ideas in non-English language SF?

2.1.1. How do we identify what ideas in such literatures are derivative from English language SF and what ideas are new and different?

2.1.2. How do we address the spin each national literature gives specific ideas?

2.2. Nationalism

2.2.1. How does nationalism figure into our evaluation of the qualities of a good idea? Should it? Is an idea that advances a national agenda better than an idea that advances another kind of agenda?

3. Values

3.1. How do we distinguish ideas that would advance the cause of social justice from ideas that would intensify inequality and repression?

3.2. What kinds of SF ideas increase empathy (I.e. Reduce alienation)?

3.3. What kind of SF ideas help build a consensus for innovation?

3.3.1. What would be the best kinds of innovation for SF to advance?

3.4. Are some ideas inherently evil?

3.4.1. How do we sift out evil ideas?

3.5. Are there some ideas that need to be articulated even if they would be terrible in practice? (Example: Is it worth discussing whether Neal Stephenson's tall tower should be built on the top of Mt. Everest?)

3.5.1. Are there some ideas that should not be discussed because someone might do it? If so, how do we sift them out?

3.6. Are ideas that appeal to power structures better or worse than ideas that appeal to individuals or masses of people? What are the characteristics of each? How can they be sifted?

3.7. Will authors like what is done with their ideas? Does whether or not they like it matter?

3.8. Do different kinds of SF writers represent different kinds of ideational stake holders? What are the implications of that?

3.9. How do questions of ethnic and gender diversity figure into harvesting of ideas? Should care be taken to assure diversity of ideational sources and voices?

4. Intellectual Property

4.1. If SF authors, scientist, engineers, universities, governmental agencies, and companies are to work more closely together to use SF as an engine for innovation, how are the fruits of the resulting intellectual property to be distributed?

4.2. Who should be expected to be paid for their ideas and who should expect to give ideas away for free?

5. The Purpose of Ideas

5.1. How can ideas in SF best be harnassed to make money?

5.2. Support for NASA's initiatives

5.2.1. How can we better use SF and the SF field to engender support for NASA's projects? Does SF have the power to get people to Mars? If it does, what would it take to leverage SF to do that? What are other things SF might be leveraged to accomplish? Which are the most worth doing?

5.2.2. How can we better use SF as a lens with which to view problems NASA has identified?

6. Classifying ideas

6.1. Classifying ideas across genres

6.1.1. How to we compare the emerging body of ideas in SF with the emerging body of ideas in the patent, scientific, and engineering literature?

6.1.2. How do we mesh the body of ideas in print science fiction with ideas to be found in other media such as films or patents?

6.1.3. Are ideas propagated by big budget movies part of the signal we are looking for or are they noise?

6.2. How can we distinguish writers' ideas from ideas generated by editors and/or publishing lines?

6.3. Questions about Problems

6.3.1. How do we use SF to find out what the worlds' problems are?

6.3.2. How do we identify ideas that propose new problems?

6.4. Questions of Quality

6.4.1. Is it more productive to focus on the ideas of the best SF writers, or the cast the widest possible net to extract ideas from SF as a whole?

6.4.2. How do we identify the best new ideas within recent SF? Is targeted exploration of specific topics the best way to make use of SF's metadata?

6.4.3. How do we distinguish good ideas from bad ones? How do we distinguish SF ideas that merely sound convincing from ideas that would really work?

6.4.4. How do we square the virtues of Gertzian thick description of ideas and concepts with large scale harvesting of ideas? Is an idea still the same idea when extracted from a large body of texts as when articulated and elaborated by an individual writer?

6.4.5. How do we know whether ideas that go viral are better than others that don't? How do we identify the importance and meaning of "strange attractor" books, stories, authors, and movies?

6.4.6. How do we know that this year's ideas are better than last years's ideas?

6.4.7. How do we evaluate the quality of ideation in SF novels and stories? In SF movies and TV shows? What is a unit of quality of ideation? How could that be measured? What role does literary style play in SF ideation? Are the ideational qualities of a text easily separable from the stylistic ones? Would it be useful to examine the role of literary style in the ideation of certain writers such as Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin, Bruce Sterling, Samuel R. Delany? Are there certain stylistic characteristics of texts rich in high-quality ideation? How important is an SF writer's academic and professional background to the quality of ideation in his or her works? Would it be useful to incorporate these factors in evaluating large textual data sets? Are there typologies or ways of thinking that can be identified among subsets of SF writers? Do these break along sub genre lines or differently? How useful would Facebook-based social network analysis of the SF field be to answering questions about the quality of ideation?

6.4.8. How can quality of ideation be distinguished from influence?

6.4.9. How can fashions be distinguished from paradigm shifts?

6.5. How do demographics figure into ideation in fiction? How does that play out in terms of ideas associated with age cohorts and other groups?

6.6. Should agendas be distinguished from ideas? Should ideas be grouped by agenda?

6.7. Should ideas be grouped by scientific discipline or is it better to view science fictional ideas as inherently interdisciplinary?


7.1. How do we teach engineers to research prior art in the SF literature and its media?

7.1.1. What would be the impact of teaching scientists and engineers to think like a science fiction anthologist? Could courses be designed to teach them how to do SF "case books" for topics in which they plan to undertake research?

7.1.2. How do we construct a history for "new" ideas? Would that be productive?

7.2. Questions about motivating & influencing writers

7.2.1. How can we influence SF writers as a group to occupy themselves with topics of interest to NASA?

7.2.2. How do we best elaborate on Hieroglyph's encouragement of SF writers to work on solutions to the world's problems? What would be the impact of a new original anthology series targeting innovation? How can emerging ideas best be sheltered from the glaring light of "been there, done that" attitudes? What areas of innovation are not being covered by SF writers but should be? Would it be productive to commission SF writers to explore those topics? The Poetics of SF Is there something that could be done to fiction to make it a better vessel for a wider range of innovative ideas? What would be the impact of the creation of new awards in the science fiction field targeting innovation? What would be the impact of a new reprint anthology series targeting innovation? What would be the impact of expanding CSI's program of providing scientific and engineering support to working SF writers? Would the creation of new forms of SF, for example SF that doesn't take out the math or that footnotes its sources, advance the cause of of innovation? Can the emerging writerly tactics of Hieroglyph be extracted? Would having a conference involving the writers in the book be a good way to do that? If such methodology were to be extracted, who would it be most beneficial to teach it to? Established working writers? Creative writing students? Science and engineering students? Working scientists and engineers? All of the above? Is there a linguistics of ideation that can be extracted from SF? Could that be taught? How useful would it be to build a library collection for ASU around the most ideationally important texts within SF?

7.3. How do we make the best use of SFs core of knowledgeable bibliographers, encyclopedists, anthologists, and critics?

7.3.1. Given that many of these people are at or beyond retirement age, how do we make the best use of them in a short time frame?

7.3.2. How do we gain access to and best make use of archives of "metadata" about SF?

7.4. What is the best delivery system for ideational content extracted from SF if our goal is to spur innovation?

7.4.1. How do we put the right SF ideas under the noses of scientists and engineers when they need it most? How do we get scientists and engineers to pay attention to ideas derived from science fiction if they themselves are not already interested in SF? Would Wolfram Alpha and the data libraries for Mathematica be a good delivery system for innovation-oriented ideas extracted from SF? Would it be a good platform to point scientists and engineers towards works of SF that might advance ideas they are researching? How do we make an idea's association with science fiction a plus rather than a minus for governmental agencies and other decision makers?

7.5. What underlying processes in SF generate the best ideas and how do we enhance them?

7.5.1. What applications of money to SF will generate the highest ideational yield?

8. Questions of Extraction

8.1. How useful is it to extract ideas from SF's various bodies of fan fiction?

8.2. How do we recognize what new questions SF is asking for the genre as a whole?

8.3. Distinguishing Truth from Fiction

8.3.1. How can we tell what SF authors are making up and what they are taking from life and the state of the world as it is now?

8.4. How do we identify great ideas that otherwise will go untended?

8.5. Time

8.5.1. How do we identify ideas that are ahead of their time?

8.5.2. How can we tell when it's "typewriter time"?

9. Questions about Writers

9.1. How can we distinguish writers who generate new ideas from writers who popularize existing ideas?