Wiki Test Bed
Testing Return to the Moon Ideas
The idea of people returning to the Moon has not caught on right off. We were able to generate lots of ideas on how to build up interest in the idea but guessing which ones might work and which will not is a problem. We needed a way to find out which ideas were hot.
Specifically, I need to provide students with project ideas that have life to them. Even good ideas provide little encouragement to students if they flop.
In January 2007 I decided to try using an Internet Wiki to test the vitality of Back to the Moon ideas.
A wiki is an open encyclopedia structure on the Internet. The best known of these is the general topics Wikipedia. A Wiki just for supporting our return to the Moon had just been founded by "The Moon Society", a non-governmental organization, and was available for this test.
And a fiction section was later added by the society:
Ideas under Test
In three months my students and I contributed more than 60 articles constituting about 10% of Lunarpedia's content. The articles fell in the following major categories:
- Use of a Wiki
- Could the wiki format be a good structure for building return to the Moon interest? This is the first report on this test and work continues.
- Technical Description of a Lunar Settlement
- Articles on the buildings and machines needed for a lunar settlement. See: Architecture_as_Mole_Hills
- People in Space
- The people, and robots, you would find in a lunar settlement. See: People_on_the_Moon
- Lunar Settlement Stories
- A series of general audience short stories set in a lunar settlement. Also included was one short story with an adult theme and a franchise treatment in the form of a suggested Star Trek plot. See: []
- Oral Histories ; Personal experiences of people in all phase of our space effort. See
- Technical articles ; Providing technical information needed for the design of a lunar settlement. Example
- Commercialization of the Moon
- How a lunar settlement could earn its keep. See: Business_Plans_List
- Design of Lunar Volatiles Harvester ; Setting up the design of an industrial machine for recovering lunar volatiles for student projects or a contest. See
- Support for Students and Teachers
- Descriptions of school projects and an offer of assistance. See: Student_Projects_List
- Controversial Questions ; Intentionally bring up difficult questions like the fate of the ISS. Example
- NASA's Contribution ; Defining what NASA's part of the adventure should be. Example
- Define the Purpose of Lunarpedia ; Having a clear idea of what one is doing helps you achieve your goal. See
It is early days yet and Lunarpedia has gotten off to a rather slow start. Still I think I can draw the following conclusions:
- The whole Return to the Moon idea is now very cold
- It will take a great effort to keep it alive and to give it a chance to grow. Like compensation for rock starts, sports supper stars, and Fortune 500 CEO’s salaries, ideas in our society are in a star system with the top few being grossly over blown and the rest falling off by a power law. Right now Climate Change is hot, hot, hot. Finding life in the universe (especially Mars) is next, but well behind. Return to the Moon is barely on the radar. The ISS is a complete zombie, stone-cold dead but still ambulatory.
- No idea has stood out as hot
- None of the ideas so far tested has grabbed a significant audience. The article on People on the Moon drew the most interest. The Oral Histories drew the most new input. Most of the other ideas drew very little interest or discussion.
If we are to make the Return to the Moon idea to grow we will need to do a great deal of work.