March 21, 2009

TSI’s mission statement

I wrote the original mission statement for The Seasteading Institute somewhat hastily while trying to get the corporate entity formed and website going on a tight deadline. With more time to reflect, Liz, James and I think it can be improved, and we’d like your feedback.

Here’s the original:

To establish permanent, autonomous ocean communities to enable experimentation and innovation with diverse social, political, and legal systems

And our proposed new version:

To further the establishment and growth of permanent, autonomous ocean communities, enabling innovation with new political and social systems.

Some notes:

* “To establish” -> “To further the establishment”. People often seem to expect our small nonprofit to be out there building hundred million dollar structures, and we think the old language encourages that misperception. Big ventures need big investment, thus need to be for-profit, and to be their own corporate entities. While we are in discussions with our lawyers about how TSI can help such ventures, perhaps by incubating them until they receive enough funding to become independent, we don’t expect TSI to ever own a $100M seastead.
* “Establishment and growth”. As part of our long-term timeline, we realized that over time if we are successful, TSI will shift from just trying to get seasteads started to also acting as an advocate for existing seasteads, and we wanted the mission to reflect that.
* The other changes, removing experimentation and legal, and some minor rephrasing, were just trimming words we felt were redundant.

This may seem like obsessing over minor details, but the mission statement is a compact embodiment of the goals and values of the entire organization, so it is a sentence worth looking at quite carefully.

Comments welcome.

6 Comments on “TSI’s mission statement

March 22, 2009 at 11:39 am

 I agree with you that the statement is very very important. And it looks better now (not that it was that bad before :p). I didn’t like "experimentation" though and I’m glad you don’t use it anymore.

March 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm

It’s an improvement, and I like it.

March 23, 2009 at 5:40 pm

 Very nice work.  Words matter.  This looks great.

Jeff Chan
March 31, 2009 at 1:34 am

The revision is an improvement, but "new" is probably overly restrictive.  While I fully expect social or political systems on seasteads to be new, old systems like the Iroquois Confederation, American Articles of Confederation, Swiss Confederation, trade guilds, Hanseatic League, etc., are old ideas that were stable and fostered trade and progress and which could potentially be useful to (re)explore.  Or as the old libertarian joke goes: the U.S. Constitution isn’t perfect, but it’s better than what we have now (in the U.S.).  Or, we could borrow the U.S. Consitution; the U.S. isn’t using it any more.  That said, The U.S. Constitution is severely flawed so I would not seriously suggest using it.  The Swiss constitution may be superior to the U.S. one in siginficant ways, for example in having tax referrenda.

Also "social" is a slightly loaded word that weakly implies socialism.  See Hayek. :)  "cultural systems" would not have that connotation.

March 31, 2009 at 6:00 pm

I finally learned a one sentence summary of the dissertation on which my spouse’s is currently working: 


The development of an ethical principle to guide the formation and operation of cosmopolitical structures.


Basically, it is on right’s based governance that crosses national lines.


Not sure if any of those words may help here, but it sounded similar enough that I thought I should share.


There is no fate but what we make for ourselves. Each to his fate.

March 31, 2009 at 7:51 pm

The main page of the website still has the old mission statement, in case someone forgot to update it.

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