Open Source Project Leadership

(Larry G) #1

There’s a remarkable enthusiasm for and equally remarkable lack of progress on actually building seastead projects.

One wonders if that is a problem of leadership. With so many conflicting visions, various motivations, and widely different knowledge, skills, and resources, how could a seastead construction project ever get off the ground?

Skills vs. behavior

It is heartbreaking when you allow a contributor who is lacking in positive communication, who doesn’t get along with others, and who behaves poorly, but is one of the best contributors or coders you’ve got. Sometimes when you allow that one skilled person to be a part of your team, it can cause many others to work poorly or lose motivation on the project. You could be causing more problems by allowing this type of contributor to be a part of your team. One way to avoid the problem from the beginning is to screen for communication skills before allowing them to have a big or important role on the team.

The first goal is always to create something useful. […]. Make sure that what you’re offering is useful by looking for others who are doing similar projects and figuring out how large of a user base you’re looking at.

The consultant team, CH2M HILL and Associated Engineering, are both qualified engineering and planning consultancies with experience in and knowledge of best practice projects. Should the CRD seek further advice on options?

In the software industry there is a model that works in this way, it’s called open source, and essentially everyone who cares enough to spend some time working on the project can chip away at the structure, fix bugs, make improvements, and work toward the common goal of having a software that does everything that is deemed important enough to include.

For Civil Engineering, this process does not work. The design and construction of major infrastructure requires much higher levels of accountability, and the risk of failure cannot be overcome with an End Users Agreement. Design by committee is the camel that was meant to be a horse.

My comment to the above: unless perhaps the crowd-sourcing is used to define requirements and a project lead or leads delegate sub-tasks to individual designers. It does appear that Mr. Thomas’ is the conclusion that TSI leadership has come to, however.

The Civilization Starter Kit currently contains all the training materials you need to build 4 out of 50 Global Village Construction Set machines. Join the global network of independent replicators creating a sustainable, open source economy.

the open-source idea isn’t easy to explain. According to him, most of the code now going into the Linux kernel is from paid programmers working at businesses that have leveraged off the existing code base. The idea of open-source engineering is to manage the large project and design in an open manner and also work with individual, commercial, and academic ventures that have something real to gain from the system and being part of the project. Cleaner air and sustainable power are motivations, but as the project moves forward there are some very concrete reasons why someone would want to work on it.

An example supplied by Rohatensky is the architectural student using some of the SHPEGS ideas for his thesis on a plan for an urban sustainable community. The SHPEGS project gives him a jump-start on his design and he promises to add his plans and drawings to the project when they are complete. Another example would be a manufacturing company providing resources to the project to open new markets for its products. Yet another example is the chemist working with the SHPEGS project to develop a related but separate idea that is mutually beneficial to both projects.

Rohatensky expects that if the project hits “critical mass” with a strong potential for success and enough exposure, there will be many contributions from small engineering and design firms that will contribute work to use the project to advertise and promote their firm.

What can we do to emulate the success of the open-source software community in engineering seasteads? Or even seastead parts modules or functions or standard-ish equipment for seasteads?

(Jake Rosoman) #2

Well all we need to do is start sharing our work and we will find out. The guy who put together the geopolymer concrete recipe was a big help. And people have released seastead designs but none of them include an accurate cost estimate which makes them hard to evaluate.

I’ll share my CAD models along with cost estimates and see what response I get.

(Larry G) #3

You can upload certain file types to the Wiki: It’s a good place for narrative style articles as well.


I would like to know more about the geopolymer formula and who shared it.

(Bob LLewellyn) #5

Larry, I understand what you are going for but that is using a limited idea of what seasteading is. Phase one of the Marinea project is already built and waiting for us to pay for it. The floating island thing is ok for phase two but wouldn’t we like to see if it will pay off before we jump two feet into building something?

I’m from the old school where we identify a demand then find the solution, this building something then trying to figure out what its good for is um… interesting.

If we wanted to do something as a group, we might start with who our customers are. Beyond libertarians, who will want to move to our projects? Who will be happy to support them? Answer this question and the projects will be done.

(Larry G) #6

Apparently you don’t, actually.

Phase one of the Marinea project is already built and waiting for us to pay for it. The floating island thing is ok for phase two but wouldn’t we like to see if it will pay off before we jump two feet into building something?

I’m from the old school where we identify a demand then find the solution, this building something then trying to figure out what its good for is um… interesting.

Where do I say that? I’m talking about designing a purpose built floating habitat, designed as a permanent living solution for people with families and livelihoods to earn.

This is distinct from a floating structure built to visit or rotate labor on short tours. It may involve adapting something that was designed for this purposes but it is distinct.

It has nothing to do with building something no one knows what to do with. As for Marinea already having something built… that is a bit disingenuous. Something was built, by someone else, for another purpose, and you hope to raise money to buy it. I’m in favor of your plan, but don’t try to sell me bullshit and call it cotton candy.

That depends on whether you look at seasteading as a lifestyle and desirable place to live, or as an opportunity to sell seasteads as real estate. I don’t have to market my home town as a desirable place to live. I just need to find a house I can afford and a job to support my lifestyle.

This is one of the big divides on this forum and I don’t wish to rehash it here and now. I just wish that those with the real estate sales paradigm would recognize and respect the different approach of people who want to live a seasteading lifestyle versus wanting to be in the business of building seasteads.

(Jake Rosoman) #7

You feature pretty extensively in that discussion so it’s concerning that you don’t remember it.


OK. I was looking for something new, from outside the forum. My formula sort of works, any formula given that came from others, either one I quoted, or linked, might be OK (test it before you rely on it). I haven’t had time to tinker with mine. As for my memory, well, I have had several strokes, so it’s not as good as it could be.

Looking at setting up a shop, where I am now. 1st priority is my biogas digester, then a cabin, then I hope to try more with my own geopolymer formula.

(Jake Rosoman) #9

I couldn’t figure out how to create a page in the wiki so I just posted my drawings in the forum

(Bob LLewellyn) #10

OK, explain it to me again, little less harsh please. Maybe I don’t understand. It would be a shame if several projects where working toward the same goal but could not help each other because of emotions getting in our communications. If we want to work together we need to start working on our communications.

(Larry G) #11

Sorry Bob, not intended to be harsh.

I’m getting at the idea of having overall coordination on a given project, distributed geographically. A project lead delegates sub tasks (design, construction, transport) to sub teams or individuals all working towards a common goal. Commonality is maintained through regular project coordination and status reporting. By designing with explicit requirements, inter-connectivity is achieved, like the guys in the Open Source Ecology project have started to do with their Global Village Construction Set..

Maintaining standards across seasteading + off-grid + developing nation efforts means a broader user base, demand causing volume discounts and scalable production, and easier logistics.

(Bob LLewellyn) #12

Logistics is actually what I had in mind. Understand that I don’t see the pilot project in terms that can be pictured or described. Re-purposing a barge isn’t disingenuous, it is the basic concept. What we want is to start something that I won’t personally live to enjoy. It isn’t a floating island that’s important, it’s getting something like a community started. The simplest something is a barge but that was only needed to supply the boat colony and boat traffic that always goes through the Sal Bank on their way from the States to the islands. No matter how many projects are located in the Sal bank we would need only one supply ship to carry store goods, business materials, mail and tourists.

This type of a cooperative would reduce the cost of logistics prime to all projects making some projects that would not be feasible to become feasible. If someone wanted to build a floating island, we would have the basic infrastructure in place to help them. We could tell those projects how the current flow behaves normally and during weather problems, wave heights and temperatures. We could share waist treatment facilities. And rather than trying to each making our own liquor, we could begin some small trade between the projects to get a feel for what kind of currency we want to help us in other trades.

We are interested in ocean colonization rather than a seastead proper. Our second phase will be a floating marina, a place for boaters to dock. As people hear about some group congregated at sea developing a boater community they will buy a boat and join us. Eventually people will prefer a floating sea home, and we will help them find a sea-home that will suit them but I don’t look to that as an income. Forex Bob isn’t just a nickname, I’m really good at it.

I suggest the Sal bank for stated reasons of being in line between Cuba and Miami plus it is one of the few shallows in the free ocean, surrounded by islands too small to live on but big enough to act as wave breakers. (I re-purpose everything).

Larry if this is close to what you meant, then I am doing an extremely bad job of explaining the Marinea Project. I have simplified the project down to a point where there is little to go wrong. We know barges well, having used them for over a hundred years. There is some small demand for our general store and gas station already but as word gets out, more will want to join us. At some point, someone will united most of the various seastead and boater communities as one people, Mariners. This will be the end of the project and my personal vision as you (Larry) call them… One nation on the sea with real liberty and even justice for all.

I said all that to say all of this, if what I just wrote is close to your vision, count me in.

(Larry G) #13

What I meant was, yes, there are barges out there. Yes, they can be made livable for a period of time. No they are not purpose-built or currently suitable for long term habitation, they require conversion or modification of some kind.

So saying “Marinea is already built and we just need to pay for it” … I see the point of view you’re going for, but it’s not ringing true for me.

I agree with this 100%.

I like the incremental appraoch. I hope it works.

I don’t think that is a realistic or desirable state. For simple supply line diversity for one thing.

(Bob LLewellyn) #14

Oh, no I just meant just to get started, obviously we would limit our growth by using only one transport. But I would like them to be private, even if private is project ownership. This will encourage new services while discouraging over supply. Sorry about not being clearer.

(Larry G) #15

This is a good example of a module that can be worked on by a team or individual and then “plugged in” to another design element.

The same with the geopolymer formulas. I am working on freeing up some time and space for my own geopolymer experiments. I received my sample pack of basalt fabrics. Letting some thoughts percolate around the obvious tactile qualities of the fabrics. Reading ferrocement patents, and books by folks who have built ferro boats, even though geopolymer has many seriously different physical properties to ferrocement and likewise with the construction techniques.

(Gordon Hoffman) #16

I’m glad you mentioned the geopolymer issue - I too am waiting for information for where to purchase the base materials, and what catalysts to make the material for constructing large tanks and platform walls - floats. Local sources told me that the processes were popular in the 1970s - I am not near any coal fired power plants, and the sellers are not interested in selling quantities of less than a train-car load - I was thinking 50 pound bags are something I can handle. Basalt rebar and netting is going to be required as well.

There seems to be more support for folks who want to go to Mars. I think that if we can’t pull off a successful floating living center then I strongly doubt that a Martian colony is possible (I might believe that anyway). I’m working on my hydroponics so I am preparing for a full-circle recycling system that could sustain life. Hurricane Harvey has me doing a lot of soul searching - submerge or run away. Home would be a geographical (most of the time) location - it might have to be able to sail, and the gardens submerge.


My own formula starts with basic, low-cost substitutes that are analogous to the ingredients in other formulas. However, those materials are almost globally available, at a fraction of the costs of modern OPC. In some cases, it may be possible to be paid to take a waste-stream, thus further reducing costs.

(Larry G) #18

Greenheart considers all of its designs to be Open Source.