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96. Guy Fawkes 98. Island 102

November 6th, 2020

Island 101

Basic Concept The Dunbar number 148 (rounded up to 150), as proposed by Robin Dunbar, suggests the ideal number in human social circles as defined by people you would feel comfortable interacting with in an individual social setting. He explains the 150 mark is the upper limit, and only commonly found in anthropology in societies that are forced, by the nature of their livelihoods, to exist in larger groups and that, in general practice, a number closer to 100 would be much more comfortable for most people. Structure I will layout a roadmap that can be used to kickstart the exercise, though there is absolutely no necessity in following these steps, given the purpose of the investigation is to spark debate around anthropology rather than successfully completing the island, which is practically impossible, save creating your own goals to achieve, which I may advise on later. The general structure of this guide will be divided into Pathways which will allow you to set up the parameters for the world you wish to create, setting starting conditions and boundaries that encourage different styles of play. I will also describe some Sparks which will help instigate the sort of debate that the exercise is designed to encourage. One way the system can work is with a member of the discussion group acting as the Facilitator, and the others the problem-solvers of the Sparks that the Facilitator provides, playing devil’s advocate at every opportunity to help make sure all avenues and possibilities are being considered. Otherwise, you might play without a specific Facilitator, and everyone has the responsibility to challenge and combat, this way the experiment can work as either a teaching tool or a combined effort exercise, or both. Pathways can be readdressed at any time, but I’ve laid them out in this order as I think it helps to add strict parameters early on, else the exercise can easily lose its way. Pathway 1 - Control First, how are you starting the exercise? Here are three rough options that you can use to begin the thought-experiment, each will shape the manner in which it is played out. 1. Detachment Setting up the parameters for the world and letting it run, like a scientist conducting a huge practical physics experiment but with human lives. This works as a series of hypotheticals, working out what will happen and discussion over what people would do in the situations you have suggested. 2. Involvement Think playing with computer controlled characters, like Sims, you point people in one direction and see what they do. You’re free then to jump in and out, nudging people around to suite your whims. 3. Complete control Nobody moves an inch without your specific say-so. In practicality this doesn’t really make sense, given that you can’t dictate one hundred percent of even your own actions, let alone those of a hundred others, but you may wish to role-play certain scenarios, say a courtroom dispute over land ownership. Side Track - Who are You? Are you God, or an inhabitant in with the rest? This is a key decision which will shape your approach the whole scenario. As an omni-omni-omni Lord on High you have the power to shape the world as you see fit, within the constraints of the exercise as they unfold, e.g. everyone obeys you as you command them, and depending on your parameters, you may wish to flood the island, or strike the land with a meteor shower. This allows for a clean, detached outlook, without the moral questions associated with dictating power, e.g. you can, with a relatively clean conscience sentence an inhabitant to death without fear or repercussions. Pathway 2 - Complexity As soon as you start looking into different forms of government, systems of monetisation, the possibilities of trade, cultural capital, etc. you will find there are a near infinite number of ways to structure a society. Whilst the nature of the exercise is to explore these multitude avenues, the sheer quantity of options may be quite daunting, so it could be worth dialling down the complexity. 1. Invincibility You are the governor of an island of God-like humans who cannot perish from starvation or cold. This will lean the world towards a discussion of life priorities, ie what makes people happy. There’s nothing to stop them lying around all day like sleeping lions, but what’s the point in such a life? Food still provides nourishment, clothes still provide warmth, medicine alleviates pain and emotional anguish is caused and soothed by the companionship of others. Death still exists, in the passing on of those elderly people who let go the bounds of life, but otherwise, people mostly just keep on trucking along. 2. Early Human Settlement The wind brings your rafts to shore and your tribe decides this island will be a nice place to settle, so they set up shop on the banks of a river and start going about their hunter gatherer lives. As a step up from option 1, these humans’ main priorities are still social interactions, but the added necessity of staying alive will affect them in prominent ways. A larger proportion of your people will probably have to gather food, make warm clothes, and develop new medicines. Without the safety net of invincibility the reality of potentially imminent death will change the way your people see the world. 3. Modern Commune More of a world within a world, the commune acts as a subsistence group within a larger framework. To have come together to form the enclosed system of a commune the participants will largely connected by a common political or social theme, but bring with them the emotional baggage of what they’ve left behind, the desire to be separated from a society they viewed as imperfect. With the commune scenario come more complicated political ideologies, you can think of it as a hundred people you know upping sticks and fleeing the world to found their own society. 4. Free reign As always, you are free to combine or extract any part of the above strands, it is only advised that once you set down a parameter you stick to it, or things can get messy down the line. Of course, there’s nothing to stop your society changing the rules internally. Sources/Inspo: Utopia, Thomas Moore, 1551 The 100, TV Series, 2014-20 Lord of the Flies, William Golding, 1954 1984, George Orwell, 1949 Animal Farm, George Orwell, 1945

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