Openness

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A new section for the Extended Q&A in the book:

Related to transparency is openness – being public about our existence, goals, and methods.

A number of TSI community members have expressed concern about our policy of operating openly, stating our goal to create new governments on the internet and in public interviews. They worry that it could bring us to the attention of governments before we are ready, allowing them to quash our nascent movement, and suggest that it might be better to keep everything quiet until a large seastead community is operating. While attracting negative attention early is certainly a danger, we believe there are a number of significant advantages to openness:

* It allows us to work with public figures, like successful businesspeople and scientists, who would not be associated with a secret project that might get them in trouble.

* It allows us to raise investment from individuals and institutions who are likely to require the safety of us being part of the existing global regulatory environment.

* It gives us the greatest possible audience for our ideas. Many of the community members, including those who are concerned about our openness, found out about seasteading through our public website or media mentions.

* It gives us the best chance to negotiate with governments in good faith. “Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned”, as my grandfather said.

* It attracts people who want to openly create a new society which is part of the interdependent world, rather than those who want to make a hidden Galt’s Gulch, cut off. This is important, since we think an isolated society is much less attractive, less likely to succeed, and more likely to go horribly wrong (see The Beach, Bioshock, Lord of the Flies…). The whole point of seasteading is [not to hide](http://seasteading.org/stay-in-touch/blog/3/2009/02/01/faq-why-not-just-hide) – so let’s be true to that principle from the beginning.

Let’s also not forget that this is a movement where diversity is a core value. Other groups are welcome to create similar projects in secret, hoping to grow large enough to be in a better negotiating position before they are noticed by the existing powers of the world. We wish them the best of luck, but that is not our path – we seek to be the public face of this movement.

On the other hand, we don’t want to take this too far and insist on radical honesty. We want to be open about our existence and long-term goals, but there may on occasion be specific elements of our strategy or predictions for the future that are better left unsaid for marketing purposes. However, we will be operating under a strong presumption of openness as a default. (Including being open about the degree to which we are open, as you can see!)

2 comments

  1. bhuga 6:15 pm

    The openness of TSI is a big reason why I volunteer here. Linux is beating Microsoft, MySQL is beating Oracle, and Android will beat the iPhone. Open means results.

    I would also suggest to those who are concerned about going under the radar of government that an undertaking such as this is going to be noticed, period. For falling off the radar completely, you’d do better to go live in the woods of Mississippi or North Canada.

  2. Jeff Chan 3:33 am

    Transparency is highly desirable, in fact it may be the solution to many different problems, but talking about new governments will almost certainly create negative attention from existing powers.  Any government with a blue water navy has enough power to destroy any seastead at this point, so a low key approach may be better.  

    Don’t talk about new governments.  Talk about new business ventures creating affordable medical care, etc.

    Besides, it’s not really possible to create a new country or a new government until you can afford the trillions of dollars that a navy and air force costs.  You can’t have a new country until you can afford to defend it.

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