I've been toying around with some project ideas for awhile but this has seemed like the one most worth sharing.
Generally we suck at imagining up aliens. Fiction or, uh, well unintentional fiction- we just aren't very realistic. In the media that are cheap or have the budget for not-humans really it's passing expectations to just scramble up some parts from animals on Earth as if you were playing Mr Potato head. That's totally nonsensical though, for some obvious and a lot of less obvious reasons.
I think the reason we do it so badly is because we're trying to go from nothing to present all at once but life has history- billions of years of it (and poo poo on you if you think we've only got a few thousand years of history.) Obviously we can't simulate that all at once, whether using brain of silicon chip.
Now, there are a few places on the internet where people have gone drawing up alternative trees of life but they all have this feature that bothers me: people are drawing things up with a goal in mind. It's like they picture chimp and human then go about drawing a bunch of steps in between but I have the lofty goal of getting a few people to do this with every step being the one they were aiming at.
A fairly easy way to keep people from looking too far ahead (definitely something I would have trouble stopping myself from doing,) is just to make the work switch hands a lot of times. There's some bonus here because with people drawing things so differently it starts to be like that telephone game where the result changes greatly just from going between people even if they aren't changing anything.
One that appeals to me even more is to make the lines branch so often that you couldn't just work with one.
Now I know that for some reason people have a rough time of just scanning doodles and posting them on a forum but does this appeal to anyone?