I think about this briefly every now and then. At least, when I first consider it, it seems like it would be nice to at least be able to take a few months off between consulting jobs now and then, and devote full time to some subset ofsimsim314 wrote:I was thinking about kickstarter or patreon to make it my primary job. People are doing different things like writing a novels, or making board games. Why not spaceships? I only wonder how much people are sharing your and mine (and dvgrn's) ideals?
- proving omniperiodicity,
- building a quadratic-growth replicator that Golly can run away with (unlike the 0E0P metacell),
- the next edition of the Life Lexicon,
- a proper modern update to Golly's pattern collection,
- a crowdsourced glider synthesis record-keeping system associated with the LifeWiki and/or Catagolue,
- hooks added to Golly so that Mathematica can call it directly,
- an extensible rule naming system for Golly where a temporary rule table or tree is auto-generated based on the "rule = " part of an RLE header,
- all the common Life search utilities made cross-platform compatible, so that they can be compiled right along with Golly and called directly by Lua front-end GUIs.
- about a thousand other worthwhile things that clearly Somebody Ought To Do.
But then I think that anyone giving me money might actually have some right to expect specific results in a reasonable amount of time, which would mean I wouldn't get to work on whatever I wanted to! What if some new amazing discovery came up, and I was stuck in the interminable end stages of cleaning up a Life Lexicon release and couldn't pay proper attention?
So after due reflection, I usually decide that in the absence of a no-strings-attached grant -- heh, something along the lines of a MacArthur Fellowship would certainly be nice -- I'd personally rather keep things as they are, on a strictly volunteer basis. That way at least nobody can complain about whatever I manage to accomplish. I'd certainly throw in a monthly donation to a Kickstarter/Patreon account for someone else working on Life stuff full time, though!
Small Active Group, But Large Pool of Interested People
It does seem to me that there is some fairly large potential to spark wider interest in Conway's Life -- especially as the 50-year anniversary comes up between late 2019 and October 2020 (depending on the exact anniversary you're targeting).
There are probably some millions of people worldwide, on the fringes of what Eric Raymond would call the "hacker community", who inevitably discovered Conway's Life at some point. They were probably totally floored by the incredibly weird and amazing things that people had constructed as of 1990 or 2000 or 2010 ... and then they moved on, and today have no idea about the existence of Gemini spaceships, Snarks, Caterloopillars, 2-engine Corderships, Collatz 5N+1 simulators, Hydras, stable line crossers, minstrels, cameships, and so on.
Now, if you could get just a small percentage of these people to put in a dollar a month into a Conway's Life Patreon/Kickstarter, pretty soon you'd have a significant resource available to drive some interesting CA research. But that's a lot easier said than done, or else we could start dreaming up a non-profit organization with a volunteer board that dispenses grants of various sizes to people who complete research projects that are on the Official Wish List.
Probably the simplest way to make recent Life developments visible to a larger audience -- and thus improve the size of the potential donation pool for our hypothetical grant-dispensing organization! -- is to keep up with news announcements on places like the conwaylife.com homepage and the LifeWiki homepage.
Maybe just as important would be to keep Golly's pattern collection up to date. Golly is still humming along pretty well at a steady 2,000 downloads per month and, recently that's been gradually increasing. It's dropped off quite a bit from previous highs, though: from 2012 through 2016 the average was about 4,000 downloads per month. Those downloaders are basically the target audience we're talking about.
Unfortunately the new interesting stuff, even when it makes it to the pattern collection, is usually buried in a sub-subfolder somewhere, with no really good advertising billboard space to tell people to "Look At This!" Changes.html doesn't quite count, since Golly doesn't do anything annoying like bring it up as a README after a new install.
The Biggest Collection of the Coolest Stuff
(Or It Should Be)
Maybe the biggest missing piece in the pattern collection has to do with the online Very Large Patterns page, which currently contains a Caterpillar but no Caterloopillar, and (strangely) a Gemini gun but no Gemini spaceship. It might be a good idea to start a new thread to try to collect donations of completed patterns for Very Large Patterns (with good comments included, since that's always the weak spot).