in writing

The Hieroglyph Project

Here’s a new project from Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination, inspired by a 2011 call to action from Neil Stephenson. What’s the Center for Science and Imagination, you ask? Bruce Sterling explains it well in a 2012 Wired article.

The goal of the Hieroglyph Project is to rekindle the spirit of mid-20th century “Big Idea” science fiction: the kind of writing that described (and inspired) a future society in which communications satellites, robots, and rocket ships were common technologies. The idea of Hieroglyph, then, is to provide a forum for 21st-century writers and researchers to dream up new big ideas to inspire new generations of engineers and scientists. To give you an idea of the scope and vision we’re talking about here, two initial projects are an insanely tall tower and a plot to send a 3D printer to the moon. Here’s an excerpt from the project’s ‘about‘ page:

What science fiction stories—and the symbols that they engender—can do better than almost anything else is to provide not just an idea for some specific technical innovation, but also to supply a coherent picture of that innovation being integrated into a society, into an economy, and into people’s lives. Often, this is the missing element that scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and entrepreneurs need in order to actually take the first real steps towards realizing some novel idea.

This should be interesting.