Monthly Archives: June 2008

Snippets through 6/23/2008

 With my injured shoulder, work has been slow this month.

  • Community
    • Publicity
    • Conference – We have tentatively settled on Friday October 10th, at Embassy Suites by SFO (with some Thu evening / Sat morning stuff).  The cost will probably be in the $100-$175 range (with meals, not counting hotel room).  It will be "unconference" style, with a few keynotes and the main focus being on brainstorming, researching, networking, etc.  You can semi-mark your calendars, but we will make a more formal announcement when we have signed a contract and made a deposit.
    • Volunteers – Thanks for all the additions to the Volunteer List Wiki page!  We will be contacting volunteers over the coming weeks.
    • Seastead socials – We’re thinking about having get-togethers in the Bay Area every 4-6 weeks, just general brainstorming/networking/keeping the enthusiasm going over drinks sort of thing.  We’ll announce that here when it gets going.
  • Engineering
    • We are hiring a local offshore engineering firm to do high-level structure conceptual design, and perhaps numerical modeling, simulation, and wave tank testing of some promising designs.
  • Research – Nada

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Vince Cate has written an excellent wiki page on Migration:

Imagine each seastead uses a kite and sea anchor to move in a big circle around the Sargasso Sea once each year. The currents are almost fast enough to do this, so even a slow seastead can probably make it. I am thinking Anguilla, Bermuda, Azores, back to Anguilla. We could time it so that we were in the North-Eastern half of this loop to avoid the hurricane season in the South-West and then in the South-Western half of the loop to avoid the cold stormy season in the North-Atlantic. With computers controlling the kites and sea anchors I think we can move at the right speed to make this happen. I think if we checked historical information that doing this you would never have had to face even a 30 foot wave in the last 100+ years. Designing/building for 30 foot waves is much easier than designing/building for 100 foot waves, so this type of migration could make the seasteads much more affordable.

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Hakim Bey on Permanent Autonomous Zones

While the anarchist author Hakim Bey’s visions are different from our own in many ways, there are strong similarities as well.  For example, Wikipedia says:

The concept of TAZ was first put into practice on a large scale by the Cacophony Society in what they called Trips to the Zone, or Zone Trips. One of their Zone Trips gave birth to Black Rock City, AKA the Burning Man Festival, an annual TAZ that many believe maintained its defining autonomy for about seven years, at which time it ceased being functional anarchy, and became a "do-ocracy" run by BMorg, a corporation. 

Since Burning Man is one of our influences, Hakim Bey and his TAZs thus represent part of our ideological ancestry.  While he is best known for his writings about Temporary Autonomous Zones, in this piece he shares a few thoughts on Permanent TAZs.

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Las Vegas: Resort -> City

We think one of the most promising initial business models for a seastead is as an offshore resort: "Las Vegas on the ocean, but with less rules" is the sound bite.  (Of course, there will be many other differences, such as radical self-government and experimentation with new ways of getting along – this is just about the business model).  One natural concern people have is whether such a business can give rise to a diverse economy and a full city, with schools, doctors, libraries, etc.  This is also related to the "Would you really want to live in a wretched hive of scum and villainy?" question we sometimes get.

Las Vegas shows that such a path is quite realistic, since it started as a gambling outpost, and became the fasting-growing city in America.  Sure, the tourists were transient, but the successful resort industry created construction and service jobs.  Those jobs brought in a local population that wanted all the diverse goods and services that are standard in our economy, which meant lots of other jobs.  Also, over time the resort industry led to a population of retirees, who were there for a permanent vacation.

Those retirees who like the glitzy Strip (and can afford it) go there, while others go to cheaper locals dives.  And while the resorts may be built on gambling, the neighborhoods look much like those in any other city.  We will seek to similarly parlay seastead tourism and retirement into a flourishing local economy.

Just because a city thrives on low regulation and "sin industries" doesn’t mean it won’t be a nice place to live.

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My right arm got overly excited by this whole microstate concept earlier today, and seceded from its socket.  While it has been forcibly reunited with its fatherland, it was weakened by the attempted rebellion, and as a result I’m going to be a one handed typist for a week or three.  Obviously this means you should expect less blogging and not much in the way of replying to emails.  I may pass off some projects to other people in the interim, we’ll see.  Hopefully I can find some good typing-less work to do, like catching up on some background reading.  

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Offshore wave break – Wicked, Dude!

As I was falling asleep and visualizing breakwaters (design, manufacture, and deployment thereof), I thought about how my favored breakwater design works by making the waves pile up and break (as opposed to being a wall that breaks the waves).  And suddenly I realized that, if it was deployed in a circle to protect a seastead colony…it would be a never-ending surf break!

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