Formally seperating structure and infrastructure
May 22, 2008 at 9:47 am #502
The introductory quote of TSI website reads “Buy land, they stopped making it. / Memo: production resuming”. I think this is more insightful than it appears. TSI is really meant to focus on the building of new land at sea (seasteads) and not that much on what to do with it. The actual business it is in, is not to develop this new land, but to make it. That’s the real priority. None of us are really going to build, say, a new franchise of hotels at sea from scratch and then compete with Hilton. Instead we’re supposed to make it possible for Hilton to come and buy some fancy new floating land for a new hotel. That’s how it is supposed to happen. Other people who have not even heard of seasteading yet will be able to find economically sound use for this land, later, if this land is good and cheap enough. That’s the real scope. Many other projects for building new countries at sea have failed because they expected to design the use of their new land as well as the land itself. I think this is a deadly trap.
Of course the land can benefit from being adapted, from the start, to some specific, expected developments of it. But we’re just not going to anticipate such use well enough to design entire structures+infrastructures+the mentalities of the people who’ll live there. Nay.
Now, here’s a related thought: if the infrastructure of a seastead is detachable from its structure, and can be moved from one structure to the other, then we have dynamic geography. The structure may stay in one place, as long as the people and their assets are mobile. This is the real lowest common denominator IMO. With sea land cheap enough to build as needed, you can take your whole business with you to a new place easily. Cheap new land, transportable infrastructure.
Picture for example the container transport industry. Now, imagine homes on a seastead that are built like the containers: you can pick them up with a big crane and move them around. Now imagine the same with other facilities, like power plants, food processing plants, desalinization plants, waste treatment plants, workshops, refrigerated storehouses, etc. It would be quite easy to have those manufactured onland, then shipped to the seastead to make new living space with the drop of a crane ; or shipped back for repairs ; or transplanted to/from land locations if you change your mind and don’t want to live at sea/on land anymore.
I think this is something we should encourage as much as possible: making the structure as simple and interchangeable as possible, while putting all the complexity in the infrastructure instead, with a modular design. Onshore land is extremely versatile, that’s one reason why it is so valueable, so offshore land should be versatile, too.May 22, 2008 at 12:10 pm #2245
It seems like you might sacrifice some efficiency for it.
- It might take more space to interface various systems and arrangement would be a logistical difficulty.
- Container ships have complicated programs to make the movement of cargo containers possible. It requires not just moving the conatiner you’re interested, but every container in the path of travel as well as calculating the weight of each area of the vessel to prevent it from listing or even capsizing.
Had a class on international logistics that included a segment on the cargo container/shipping industry. Interesting videos are available about it.May 22, 2008 at 12:59 pm #2247
Would you happen to have links for this kind of stuff ? IIRC the book has bibliographic references to container shipping, they could come in handy too. Modularity may require a lot of standardization in advance, for the interfacing of infrastructure systems (the water bone connects to the hydroponics bone connects to the sewage treatment bone…), but wouldn’t having an excess surface of floating land mitigate the logistical difficulty ?May 23, 2008 at 7:08 am #2275
Sorry, I know I should cite links when possible, but I didn’t have them handy. It will be a google search.
- As for excess space- there is no such thing, my friend. Either it is nnecessary space, or it probably won’t be built. Any space that is unoccupied or unused for more than a moent probably doesn’t justify the extra cost to build it. Some waste in the system is impossible to eliminate and can actually be acceptable as long as the benefit outweighs the inefficicency. But it is a risk (in the financial sense, mainly, but also in the engineering sense if it decreases safety or makes engineering more complex) to design for extra space when one has no specific purpose in mind for it.
- Each square meter will have a fairly quantifiable cost to it, and should meet one or both of two criteria to be built:
May 23, 2008 at 10:49 am #2285
- It is necessary for the health and well-being of the people living there.
- It pays for itself and replacement at a minimum and ideally makes an excess at a reasonable rate of return on investment (more than whatever the opportunity cost of building that extra space happens to be.)
Sorry, I should have used the term “expendable land”, “temporarily unused land” or “low-value, low-use land” instead of “excess”. If it’s cheaper to build some new floating land elsewhere and move your infrastructure there, than move the entire existing structure+infrastructure, then there WILL be some unused old floating land ripe for the taking / resale. It’s not “in excess”, technically, but it’s still there and not being used for anything at the moment.
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