Here’s why I struggle with the forums. The few members who argue are uncivil. I agree it makes us look bad to investors. Each member who argues also contributes significant value to our knowledge of seasteading. What each arguer has in common is that they are passionate about seasteading and motivated to make it happen. I want those people on our team.
How to capture the value of the arguers contributions without it being sabotaged by the bickering? As a writer of controversial books and essays, I learned there’s only one way: Ignore. It’s easy to scan over rants and irrelevancies and go straight to the contributions I find valuable. It’s also easy to trust the rest of the community is doing the same. Nobody is reading the accusations and counter-accusations except the accusers. People are good at figuring out which contributors they want to ignore. Well over 350 people have contributed to these forums without arguing.
Here’s why it matters: The bickering provides ammunition for the enemies of seasteading. It discourages investors, who know businesses are built on stable relationships and cooperative teams.
Why aren’t we living on seasteads right now? I blame a series of Great Seasteading Setbacks caused by public bickering.
Here’s one: The very day I became enthralled with seasteading at the conference in 2012, a journalist arrived with an agenda. He ignored 2 days of talks about nautical engineering, algae farms, blue jobs, and legal precedents for floating cities. Any discussion of startup countries will involve Singapore. Any discussion of Singapore will cause somebody to mention public caning. None of this was discussed during the conference. Two people among 200 attendees, neither of whom any of us knew, started an argument during the social gathering after the conference. They both became very engaged with proving the other one wrong. Virtually everybody ignored them.
A journalist stood by and took copious notes. His article opened with their quotes about public caning. For months we had to answer questions about why seasteaders support public beatings. Any investor who googled “seasteading” spotted an article quoting statements about caning. You have no idea how much PR work we had to do to push that message off the first page of our google search.
I’m waiting for that journalist to discover these forum arguments. He is actively searching. He showed up at our last public event and asked me questions. These forums contain a goldmine for him.
Somebody annoying you? Don’t engage. Ignore. Trust that the rest of the forum community is ignoring them too. The more you ignore, the more productive these conversations will be.
Contributors, I’m grateful for your formidable research and mindbending creativity, and I’m looking forward to seeing more.