I have an enormous collection of worldbuilding notes strewn across my desk, a dozen three-ring binders, a similar number of nice colored folders, and piled up in my book cases. These vary considerably in nature. Some are fairly extensive and occasionally comprehensible notes I took while reading various books and articles on physics, geology, astronomy, cartography, anthropology, history or whatever. Some are quick descriptions for what I thought would be interesting alien life forms. Some are quicky ideas for worlds or stories.
They are all taking up a great deal of space in my home. Space my wife and children would like to see a bit less cluttered. I love my family very much, but I’ve managed to keep my mess somewhat in hand, so that isn’t a horribly overriding priority. More importantly, in spite of all my efforts at logical organization, this is a hugenormous pile of stuff and it’s very difficult to find any specific items I’m looking for. This has lead to confusion, delay and duplication of effort. I have at least three copies of the sheet with formulae for relativistic accelerated motion. Assuming I wanted to do really hard SF and calculate the travel time for a laser-sail starship accelerating halfway to Alpha Centauri at a constant 0.01 gee and decelerating the other half at the same rate, I could figure out the time taken, both for the travelers and back home. That’s assuming I could actually find the sheets that contain the information. I used to have three copies, one sheet of which also had some biochemistry notes and something about matrilineal kinship, but finding it pretty much required me to look through all of my binders on physics and astronomy to find them. Assuming I didn’t have it filed under anthropology or chemistry ’cause of other stuff on the sheet.
I really need to get these things up on the computer, where I can look them up based on a variety of potential tags or categories. Probably my best move would be to create a wiki or three. At the top level of a categorical hierarchy, I would want to separate my notes based upon whether they were actual working descriptions of my conworlds as they exist. That is to say, I need to keep track of what I have already done on my existing conworlds. Another top level category would be actual real-world information I have gathered, whether the area of the Caspian Sea, a formula for the mass-luminosity relationship of main-sequence stars or James Kasting’s 1992 paper describing an equilibrium mechanism that might determine the depth of the Earth’s oceans. That last one is pretty cool, actually, I have a copy around here somewhere… The last important top-level category would be flights of the imagination, cool ideas I’d like to make something out of. On lower levels, I might have categories for religions, corporations or political affiliations within my conworlds, or physical laws differing from those we know in our own world, such as a description of FTL travel.
The important part of this isn’t in these categories, though. I have my notes all filed away in categories of one sort or another already. As blog posts, I could hunt information down using a variety of tags, both to narrow searches and to handle information that might well fit into more than one category of interest.
It gets even better with a wiki. I can search by title or tags. I can drill down through categories with individual notes possibly tied to multiple categories.
What I’m looking for, here, is a way to make my worldbuilding and ultimately my gaming or writing efforts more productive by making the information and ideas more readily accessible. This is largely for my own purposes, so bear with me, but I hope that it might prove of use or at least interest to my readers. If nothing else, assuming these efforts bear fruit, watching the process of my thoughts might prove helpful or amusing. If only in the way that watching the Three Stooges stage pratfalls is amusing.
Hopefully, this won’t be the whole of my efforts in the near future, but it’s a bit of added stuff to look over and laugh at. I’m still trying to find a way with this blog to try to make it something more than a vain exercise in… um… vanity. We’ll see how that comes out!