Our knowledge is full of nooks and crannies. As much as we would like our understanding of the world to be clean and elegant, it’s not. There are exceptions to general rules, odd historical incidents, and just the bonkers nature of society. Rather than the world conforming to nice and regular rules, it often feels like the opposite: that no matter where we look, we find edge cases and anomalies.
In cartography, most maps are bound by the straight lines at their borders. But occasionally, there are parts of the map that don’t quite fit. They bleed over the edge and yet still cry out for being included in a map. These are the overedges. The Overedge Project is devoted to chronicling and compiling these exceptions in our own knowledge, the bits and pieces of information that highlight the true strangeness and complexity—and fractal weirdness—of reality.
The Overedge Project is not simply a collection of wondrous or surprising facts, though it certainly does contain that. Rather, think of what you find here as wedges in our knowledge, ideas that can used to pry into further understanding: they are those exceptions and anomalies that are the raw material for deeper insight.
Here a few examples of the kinds of overedges we plan on highlighting:
We are working to build a community of omnivorously curious individuals, If you are someone whose default mode is one of curiosity in the complexity of the world around us, please join us. To be informed of the activities of the Overedge Project, please sign up to stay in the loop.
We would be remiss if we did not immediately point out the wonder of Wikipedia. As I’ve written in my newsletter (from which some of the verbiage on this site is adapted), "We need to make a place for the exceptions and the weirdness of the universe, rather than trying to make everything conform to simple rules, or simply even fit within the confines of a complete set of the Encyclopædia Brittanica. What we know about the messiness and intricacy of the world should not be limited to the length of a bookshelf."
Atlas Obscura has a similar spirit as the Overedge Project, though devoted to locations and places in the world, rather than bits of knowledge.
The Generalist Academy also feels like a kindred project, devoted to fighting specialization by highlighting the truly vast and eclectic breadth of knowledge.
And while sadly defunct, the Athanasius Kircher Society had elements of the Overedge Project.
The Overedge Project is a collective and collaborative effort. If you would like something to be included, please contact Sam Arbesman.