"I'm not sure how well that addressed your actual questions, though, because that was more of a cross-cutting difference that I noticed. For the thinking creatures like crows and mammoths -- we have crows, and we've seen them using tools, but we haven't really figured out how to talk to them. Mammoths used to exist -- we found fossils of them -- but we're pretty sure that our very early ancestors from before the invention of writing hunted them to extinction for food," she continues.
"There are lots of other creatures we've found that seem to be more-or-less capable of thought, but without crafting we've never really worked out how to talk to them. We still try to treat them kindly, but there's a lot of debate over how much we're entitled to interfere in their lives. There is a kind of animal that we usually think of as being more intelligent that isn't considered a thinking creature here, though. Dogs can be trained to understand basic human language, including things like combining verbs and nouns. But I'm not sure how much of that is inherent to dogs and how much is the product of thousands of years of selective breeding. We've been working alongside dogs and breeding and training them to cooperate with us better for longer than we've had language, and I'm not sure if that's the same here or not."
"As for how we spend our time -- it used to be that the majority of people spent the majority of their time hunting, gathering, or farming to have enough food. Over time, as we got better at producing enough food for everyone, people diversified. When I was born, most people spent a bit less than half their waking hours either in school to learn things or doing something that someone else wanted so they could get tokens, and the other half of their time doing chores and leisure activities. That includes things like spending time with friends and family, playing games, reading, singing, learning something extra, doing hobby projects, etc. Now that we have fixity devices doing all the food creation and the vast majority of all physical labor, people tend to spend somewhere between none and a quarter of their time on things other people will give them tokens for, and the rest on the same leisure activities. Although there are also new leisure activities that fixity devices make possible, like visiting other planets or changing your shape."
"The collective decision making is actually really varied! People have tried a lot of different systems. There were a lot of systems that work less well which are now mostly obsolete, although they still exist in some places. Different communities have different systems, and you can move to a community that has a system you like. Some people choose to live without a community, or in a community with no collective decision making, but those people are fairly rare."
"The way that the community where I live works (and this is a fairly normal system), is that there are a set of posted rules that people agree to abide by when they move there. This includes things like not playing loud music after a certain time of night, not taking things that belong to other people, not starting fires except in designated places, and so on. Anybody can propose a new rule, or propose that an existing rule be removed. There are some rules about what valid rules are, but that's a bit complicated to get into. Each person who lives there also gets one 'vote'*. They can give their vote to somebody else they trust if they want to, and then that person has two votes. If people with more than half the votes in total approve of a proposal, it gets enacted."
"In practice, that usually means that the people who like debating proposals or who feel strongly about the rules keep their votes and use them directly, and the people who don't want to spend time worrying about it delegate their votes to people they trust until those votes end up with someone who does like dealing with things like that. This system is called 'liquid democracy', and it's a refinement of an earlier system called 'representational democracy' that worked in a similar way but was less flexible."
"The way that it would work if an alien suddenly landed on my community and had gifts to give out is that the people who were paying attention could choose for themselves, but people who were busy with other things could have the default choice set for them by the people who they had delegated their votes to. I expected crafters to have a system to do the same thing, even if the system wasn't one I recognized, because I'm pretty used to everyone relying on their community at least a little bit to deal with the most unpredictable events, like hurricanes."
"Once I'm healed up and have gotten fixity devices to people, I'm definitely going to find a little territory to claim and duplicate myself or have some children so that I can have a crystal-people-style community here (although I bet there are at least a few crafters who would find that a crystal-person-style community works well for them too). It can feel a little uncomfortable to be without a network of friends and family, and can be bad for our health if it continues long enough. Friendly touch is also necessary to long-term happiness. I'm fine on both fronts for now, because I'm starting to make friends here, and I think I'll probably be able to figure out the accident that brought me here and get back to my family eventually, but I'll probably get a bit lonely in the meantime."
* She uses the English letters as a loanword