The Seasteading Institute November 2009 Newsletter
Table of Contents
- The Poseidon Project: Building the World’s First Independent Seastead by 2015
- Conference Recap
- Ephemerisle Recap
Hiring – Three positions
- Poseidon Project
- Awareness & Community
- Membership Program
The Poseidon Project: Building the World’s First Independent Seastead by 2015
At the Seasteading 2009 Conference, we were excited to unveil our new medium-term strategy, which we’ve dubbed The Poseidon Project. By 2015, TSI will create an independent seasteading community as the seed for the world’s first ocean city-state.
This “SeedStead” will:
Have at least 50 full-time residents.
Be economically self-sufficient.
Be technologically sound and safe.
Be politically independent (either per UNCLOS or via contract with a host country).
- Be scalable to a city of at least 20,000 (technologically, economically, and politically).
We believe this goal is small enough to be achievable, yet large enough to significantly advance seasteading.
You’ll notice that we’ve restructured much of our newsletter around the Poseidon Project. That section, below, describes the strategies, projects, milestones, and costs required to achieve this major advancement towards opening the oceans as the next frontier for humanity.
We had a fabulous time at the Seasteading 2009 Conference, and from the feedback we’ve received, our attendees did too! All of our survey respondents rated the conference a 4 or a 5 (on a scale of 1-5), and over 96% of attendees reported that they felt the conference was a fair or good value for the price. We’re extremely happy to hear that people felt the conference was worth their time — it certainly was for us.
We had over 80 attendees, almost double last year’s group, and a lot of compelling talks, which we’ll be posting videos of in the coming weeks. Other great experiences that weren’t captured on video included a wonderful opening reception (graciously hosted by Peter Thiel), an open board meeting for TSI members to discuss strategy with our Board of Directors, and the exclusive members’ dinner cruise on the San Francisco Bay. Most importantly, though, it was a unique and unparalleled chance to connect with like-minded seasteaders from all over the world.
Based on feedback from attendees, we plan to hold next year’s conference on a weekend so that more people can attend. We’re looking forward to sharing more videos and stories, and have already begun planning next year’s event!
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be putting some of the conference talks online at our Vimeo page. Peter Thiel’s keynote speech is now available for viewing.
Ephemerisle succeeded even more than we’d hoped.
We set out to create a floating festival of community and art that could give people a taste of life on the water — life with more possibility, more freedom, than we have now. But more than that, we wanted to create an event with a vision and a purpose, something that could grow not just in size or spectacle, but in substance, creating more and more momentum each year for the cause of true freedom.
For Ephemerisle, our great dream is that one or more Ephemerisles (who says there has to be just one?) will gradually move out into international waters, evolving into a new society living permanently on the ocean. This audacious vision is a great many years away, and the challenges are obviously daunting. But although we are committed to this vision, our first Ephemerisle also showed us that the Ephemerisle journey will be a productive one regardless of whether this vision is met. In coming together, we all learned more about life on the water (even when it is just four feet deep!)… the inherent challenges, how to solve them, and the wonderful sense of community we create when doing so together.
Most importantly, we heard of a great deal of inspiration, of increased optimism in the seasteading vision, and of more and more people who want to help explore or contribute to the seasteading dream with us, at future Ephemerisles or elsewhere.
You can find a great deal of Ephemerisle coverage (photos, videos, and blog posts) from attendees here.
We expect next year’s event to be significantly longer, with 2 “early arrival” days for people to come set up, and the 3 days for the festival itself. More info to follow soon.
We are hiring an Oceanography Intern to immediately begin work on the Poseidon Project, helping us research promising locations to place to first SeedStead ($500 referral bonus).
We also have a new job opening for a Development Manager, who will lead TSI’s community initiatives, press relations, and some aspects of fundraising ($500 referral bonus).
We have existing openings for Director of Development and Director of Engineering positions, each with a $1000 referral bonus.
We see three main areas as the foundation for SeedStead:
- Platform. The “Platform” track is the physical and legal foundation for the project, including the location, engineering design, legal research, and diplomacy.
- Commercial. To be economically successful, there needs to be demand for our commercial real estate and jobs for people who live on SeedStead.
- Residential. SeedStead needs pioneers!
In the sections below, we’ll talk more about our approach in each of these areas, plus our approach to fundraising. Future newsletters will provide status updates in each area.
Poseidon Project: Platform
The “Platform” track is the physical and legal foundation for the project, including the location, engineering design, legal research, and diplomacy.
The major engineering areas include the conceptual design work (finding a structure design that fits our requirements), applying that design concept to design and build a BayStead (and move TSI’s offices onto it), and applying the concept to a complete, validated design for a SeedStead. The other areas of research include oceanography (determining locations that are physically well-suited), legal (determining locations that are legally well-suited), and (depending on location) diplomacy (in case we try negotiate a contract with a host country to settle in their EEZ).
Poseidon Project: Commercial
To be economically successful, there needs to be demand for our commercial real estate and jobs for people who live on SeedStead.
We’ll help facilitate this through founding and advising businesses of the relevant types (ocean resources and jurisdictional arbitrage), as well as developing a network of entrepreneurs and businesses that are potential customers. Additionally, we need to think of SeedStead itself as a business, and develop its business plan so that it can be funded and operated profitably.
Poseidon Project: Residential
SeedStead needs pioneers, and we will recruit these using our community & awareness channels and some type of contingent contract or survey (people express willingness to move contingent on certain amenities, timeframe, cost, etc.) In addition, we will operate test communities like a residential ship, outpost on the target location, and successively larger ephemerisles. Finally, this includes determining the governance structure in conjunction with the residents.
Poseidon Project: Fundraising
We are still determining our budget, but our very preliminary estimates for Poseidon are $20M over the 6 years. Roughly half of this is the Platform area, mainly the engineering work necessary to design SeedStead & BayStead, and build BayStead. (Note that it does not include building SeedStead, which should be funded separately based on the business case for it).
The $20M total also breaks down roughly 50/50 into general advances for seasteading and specific expenses associated with the initial venture of SeedStead. We will continue fleshing out the details during the remainder of the year and begin fundraising at the beginning of 2010.
Awareness and Community
Awareness and Community: Membership Program
Since our Membership Program was launched on April 15th, 94 pioneers have signed up! Please join them to support the long-term future of seasteading.
Awareness and Community: Events
- Los Angeles Idea Project (10/17), about 100 people
- Students For Liberty – West Coast Regional (10/24), about 50 people
- Hillsdale College (10/27), 35 people
- University of Rhode Island – Ocean Engineering (10/29), about 40 people
With advice from community member Terry Floyd, we’re doing a poll on whether to hold a seasteading conference on a cruise ship.
Awareness and Community: Media
Ephemerisle brought lots of press attention to TSI from some major online publications!
- Floating innovative ideas in a sea of creativity
- “Seasteaders” Take First Step Toward Colonizing The Oceans
- Building Ephemerisle
- 2367 registered users on www.seasteading.org, from 2244.
- 1484 mailing list members, from 1372.
- 776 members in our Facebook group, from 741.
- 432 fans on our Facebook Page, from 366.
- 363 followers on Twitter, from 333.
- 48 subscribers on LiveJournal, from 47.
Selected blog posts from September and October are linked below.
- Main Blog
- Wendy Sitler-Roddier on Seasteading Architecture
- Useful medical information from the military
- Animated render of design contest winner
- Seasteading 2009 Conference: Wrap-Up Newsletter
- Renewed interest in the Isle of Roses
- Engineering Blog
- Engineering Update
- Ephemerisle Blog
- Aerial Photos of Ephemerisle
- Ephemerisle Newsletter: Issue #8
- Let A Thousand Nations Bloom
- Government Proposal: Valuestan
- Youtopia Part II: Let Persuasion Rule Over Power
- Towards YouTopia: Must All Public Good Providers Remain Earthbound?
- Sovereignty May Be Boolean, But Freedom Isn’t
- Why Landlubbers Should Support Seasteading
- Paul Romer Q & A: Even Good Guy Mayors Are Powerless
Awareness and Community: Book
The first draft of the new book is currently at 74 pages. Patri has started copying the appropriate material from the old book. He had some writing time this month (finally), and is planning to put a fair amount of time in over the next couple months. As a reminder, you can suggest and vote on key sections for the new version of the book, which will be less technical and for a wider audience.
Thanks for reading; see you next month!
“We are still determining our budget, but our very preliminary estimates for Poseidon are $20M over the 6 years. Roughly half of this is the Platform area, mainly the engineering work necessary to design SeedStead & BayStead, and build BayStead. (Note that it does not include building SeedStead, which should be funded separately based on the business case for it).”
The classic failure for floating country projects is to have a 10 step plan where step 1 is, “Raise $1 billion dollars”. Nobody gets past step 1. Now this $20 million is quantitatively more reasonable, but in practice may not be enough different to really be any more successful. I think TSI is trying to start too big.
I think something that could be done for a few hundred thousand and start making money is about 100 time more reasonable.
The “floating city” strategy does not seem like the most reasonable of strategies:
I like the idea, and I hope it will be successful.
I do agree w/Vince that, “….something that could be done for a few hundred thousand and start making money is about 100 time more reasonable.” But, if TSI can raise 20 Mil, why not? Just keep in mind that “the bigger the better” is not always true and in general, “good decision comes from experience and experience comes from bad decisions”.
I would keep it under 2 Mil and 2 year time frame for a “critical mass” and test it. Than, if it works ok, keep on adding to it.
Still seems like this is the important distinction in the approaches to seasteading.
You have to take life as it happens, but you should try to make it
happen the way you want to take it.
– German Proverb
I like the idea of the Poseidon Project. Actions speak louder than words and all that. A seastead in the bush is worth two in the ocean. No wait, that last one’s not right!
Seriously, having a true functioning seastead is going to be a MAJOR step forward and is likely to attract both interest and money. And who knows; depending on the amenities, infrastructure, timing, and cost, I might even be a resident!
But I do have to agree with Vince and Oceanopolis that $20M is probably more money than is possible within the timeframe, especially since that doesn’t include the Seedstead construction.
So while I do definitely think the Poseidon Project should take place, I also think that alternative budgets should be prepared based on different possible levels of funding.