Welcome to TSI’s January 2009 Newsletter. As the staff, membership, and worldwide interest in seasteading keep growing, we continue to have more and more for you each month. Our December 2008 was packed, and with January’s Wired Magazine feature on seasteading and the patent filing and preliminary engineering reports for our first seastead design, January was even busier!
Executive Director Report from Patri
- Design Contest launched with $2000 in prizes for the best architecture built on our new base platform design.
- TSI GTGs
- January Social at Jillians in San Francisco – was fun, about 25 people, including many new faces.
- February Social – Saturday February 28th at 2PM, at Red Rock Cafe in Mountain View.
- Community stats for January – December stats in ():
- www.seasteading.org: 800 registered users (693)
- Facebook Group: 276 (222)
- Mailing List: 211 (79) – We’re very excited about this huge leap in signups due to our exposure from the Wired Magazine article, and the continued positive effect from having a signup box on the front page.
- LJ: 35 (30)
- Tribe: 5 (4)
- Website had some significant changes:
- A prettier, simpler front page, implemented by volunteer Michael Dent, with support from Roman Hardgrave. Thanks Michael & Roman!
- A simplified and streamlined FAQ.
- Better usability for the media (done by Liz), including:
- Our 2nd best traffic month ever, only exceeded by last May’s slashdot/gizmodo/etc.
- Jan daily averages: 1900 visits (1700), 10k pages (8K), 64K hits (31K)
- Monthly totals: 58K visits (52K), 299K pages (249K), 2M hits (948K). (graph at bottom)
- Forum upgrades (by our paid developer):
- New “view unread posts” functionality
- Various bugfixes related to message formatting and other things
- Quoting functionality added
- Ability to embed images in posts added
- Breadcrumbs added to the UI (e.g. “You are here: Forum -> Community -> Feedback for TSI -> ThreadName”)
- Search functionality now available on all pages
- Improved RSS subscription UI. Unfortunately, it still requires two RSS feeds to subscribe to all of our forum posts; limitations in Drupal 5 make it hard to change this. However, subscription links for both feeds are now placed right next to each other.
- Link to subscribe to a particular thread via e-mail available on each thread’s page
- Other miscellaneous UI improvements
- The website has performed very poorly under heavy load, and so we are actively searching for a new hosting provider.
- Interesting Blog Posts:
- Chairman of the Board Joe Lonsdale talks about the balance between freedom, craziness, and marketing, and the spectrum of seastead societies we expect, in Innovation and Craziness.
- Patri steps into a web discussion about whether policy (small legal changes) vs. structure (new legal systems) is the best route to a better world in Structural Libertarianism and Structure and Policy, Reform and Blank Slates.
Volunteer Coordinator Report from James
- Michael Dent and Roman Hardgrave got our new front page live in time for our big publicity push with Wired. They’ll be working on the next version as well, which will include a number of different modules in the bottom boxes of the site’s front page.
- Ben Lavender, our resident sysadmin, kept the site running smoothly and helped get our forum upgrade live.
- Lasse Birk Olesen launched our new design contest. Watch for a press release to come next week!
- Key Needs (complete list)
- We have filed the patent on our first platform design, for a 200-guest hotel/resort we are dubbing ClubStead. We have 3/4 year before we have to decide which (if any) international patents to apply for. China & Korea are Wayne’s choice. This will cost more money.
- The ClubStead Engineering Page contains lots of information, including:
- Executive Summary (50-page preliminary report, more to come), which has been downloaded 2094 times in the 10 days since it was posted! There are lots of comments on the blog post for the report).
- Flickr Pictures (3d renderings and architectural drawings)
- Movie showing simulation of movement in 15 ft. waves.
- SketchUp Model – This is a preliminary model, and will be improved this week.
- We are doing a webcasted Q&A on this design on Thursday Feb 5th. Submit and vote on the questions!
- We will be steadily adding additional material to the engineering page, such as cost estimation spreadsheets, WAMIT hydrodynamic model files, 3d fly-bys, and a much longer and more detailed report.
Work on smaller seasteads has been postponed in order to wrap up the large seastead design, but we plan to get started on it soon. One area of active discussion is whether the best path to a prototype (StudioStead) is to:
Build a scaled-down version of ClubStead which could not survive in the open ocean and is not correct from an engineering sense (because the spar platform design does not scale down well, partly because waves don’t scale down), but would require minimal additional engineering work, and would visually represent our large design, and do fine in the Bay and perhaps in low waves near the coast. (A BayStead).
- Design and build something in our proposed “Single-Family Seastead” category – essentially an ocean-worthy floating home. This is more expensive because we would have to start from scratch, but we would be building a real, operable seastead prototype that could be operated in the open ocean.
- We are also discussing the possibility of an engineering design contest, feel free to chime in on the forum thread.
- The Weekly Research Program has been somewhat mixed. Y’all have done great – there has been a lot of good discussion on the topics. But we have not done well at writing up the topics, and there have not been a lot of offers of moderation, or topic suggestions. We are going to put the program on hold for now while we consider our options (suggestions welcome!).
- Wired – Live Free or Drown. This Wired Magazine piece has been months in the making, and we are delighted to see it finally published. We wish that it could have been longer and included more of Chris’ detailed research, but we’re happy with the result. The story was picked up by outlets ranging from the NYT Ideas Blog to the Daily Ron Paul and Futurismic.
CNET – The next frontier: ‘Seasteading’ the oceans. Declan McCullagh, who came to the SF social, wrote this well-researched piece which includes quotes from David Boaz and Jason Sorens. My favorite bit:
One way to look at the prospect of colonizing the oceans is that it represents the continuation of a westward trend that began with Greece and continued through Rome, Gaul, Britain, and the North American continent. “When people got to California that was as far west as they could go,” said David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a free-market think tank in Washington, D.C. “Maybe this will turn out to be an opportunity to revive that search for a frontier.”
- Patri was interviewed for a Discovery Channel appearance to air in late spring or early summer.
- TSI Talks & Conference Appearances for February and early March, from our public TSI Google Calendar (XML, iCal, HTML)
- James & Patri will be at the BIL conference Feb 7th & 8th. Patri will give a talk, please “Fav” it if you have an account on the BIL site.
- Wed, March 4 – Patri speaking to Yale College Libertarians. (Time/place TBA).
- Thu, March 5 – Something in NYC, possibly just a social meetup, possibly a talk.
- March 6 – 8: Patri at NH Liberty Forum, giving a talk Saturday at 11AM EST in the Main Hall.
- Mon, March 9th: Tentative Boston events, probably a talk and a social (Details TBA).
- Patri was elected to the Board of Directors of Humanity+, a nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. Seasteading is a technology which expands our political capacities, so there is definitely some overlap.
- Patri will be a reviewer for Echoing Green‘s 2009 Social Entrepreneurship fellowships.
- We are hard at work on our 2009 strategy, and will of course share it with you as soon as we have come to consensus and written it up.
- Same goes for our 2008 Annual Report.
- We are using some donated office space in Palo Alto, which is great now that we have 4 staff members!
- James Hogan has officially started half-time as Director of Operations, expanding his previous Volunteer Coordinator role.
- Unfortunately Wayne Gramlich, co-founder and Director of Engineering, will be decreasing his involvement with TSI as he is planning to get a full-time job.
- We have set up payroll, and we are still muddling through HR details like an employee handbook.