It’s easy to say “we’re going to do this by…” and then pick an arbitrary date. It’s much harder to find some realistic basis for that date when your whole project is speculative and many of its elements are still in the “what if” stage. But this project needs people, and people want “when”; they aren’t really concerned with “how”. That’s our job, not theirs.
So I’ve been thinking about “when” a bit over the last couple of days. I’m trying to look at the reality of things from several directions–recruiting, research, fabrication, testing, and money. I can’t say I have the definitive answer, but I think I know what it’s going to take for us to have any chance of doing this before I’m too dead to worry about it. Not surprisingly, the answer is PEOPLE. More specifically, true-believing and hard-working people…the ones who will be the hardest to find.
In every respect, recruiting is the linchpin of the whole project, a reality that influences any calculation of the time it’s going to take to get from concept to colony. For this reason, I’m going to hold my observations on recruiting until last. So we’ll start with something almost as important…
Research is our second “first job”
From a pessimist’s point of view, I can point out all the problems that have to be ironed out before we can even remotely consider the possibility of a full-sized colony on the open ocean. Fortunately, I’m a realistic optimist, or an “optilist”. Or maybe a “realimist”. Whatever. Anyway, I see the reality of things well enough to understand that there is reason for concern, but I’m also optimistic enough to believe that there’s never been a problem too large to be insurmountable. Mankind has, after all, made a habit out of doing the impossible since we first stepped foot from, well, the ocean.
Here’s my take on research; next to recruiting, it’s got to be our biggest focus, at least for the foreseeable future. The reason is that I believe every single answer is already out there, and fully accessible, if only we put supreme effort into searching the right places for the right information. Some master’s thesis buried in the internet vault of some jerkwater college in Idaho has one piece of the puzzle; some materials science research paper from a major chemical corporation has another; and both of those can be tied together by a report commissioned by the Army in 1956 and declassified last year. See, it’s just a matter of finding what you need, knowing what it is when you see it, and using these seemingly-unrelated pieces of information to solve our monumental challenges. Piece of cake.
I’m not an idiot. I know it’s going to take some time. I also know that with enough eyes, enough enthusiasm, and enough progress to keep everyone motivated, our problems will solve themselves. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel–we just need to know where the lug-nuts, hubcaps and tires are kept, and then put them all together. I expect this process to conservatively take a couple of years, once we’ve actually put people in place to handle the locating and assemblage duties.
Of course, we’ll eventually have to get it on the damned car. That’s where the whole “fabrication” thing comes in.
Designing, engineering, and construction
It’s an amusing quandary to be in, conceiving the full construction schedule of a product you can’t yet even imagine. It’s like trying to describe an apple when you’ve never seen one and have only a rudimentary idea that it’s something that grows on a tree. Nevertheless, I’m going to give it a shot.
At a minimum, I expect a year for design and engineering. Another year for scale-model testing and tweaks. Two years for actual fabrication, and another year for delivery, setup, system check, and safety shake-out. That’s five years, which I think is realistically doable yet conservative. In other words, it could be longer.
We’re going to need cash throughout the operation, and we’ll find a way to raise what we need. Our biggest expenditures will come toward the end, though, because no matter how much work we can do on our own, some things–like towing the rig out to sea and general setup (using barge-based cranes, for instance) are going to have to be done by professionals with professional equipment. Those folks won’t accept Cronus. They’re going to demand Uncle Sam’s currency.
I’m adding a year to the timeline to account for the need to raise cash for these major expenses. Fortunately, our research will have uncovered new product ideas, which we’ll patent and produce for income. While I anticipate this being an ongoing thing throughout the life of the project, we’re going to need to ramp it up just before we launch. That’s what this additional year is for.
And that leaves RECRUITING
We can’t do this–any of this–without people. Not just any people, but the right people. By “right” I mean the one in a hundred (multiplied by six hundred) who will bring the special skills, remarkable vision, and no-quit attitude we’ll need for the long haul. Six hundred one-in-a-hundreds…let’s see, that’s…ah, yes…sixty thousand candidates (not just curious onlookers) we have to attract between now and then. Thirty thousand of those need to be reached and motivated to at least check out the website in the first year alone.
Since that’s 30k potential members, a number I ALSO expect represents only about one percent of the population at large, that means we have to set our sights on bringing three million unique visitors to this website by Summer 2019.
And you thought building the vessel was going to be tough.
Our efforts for the first year must be laser-focused on recruitment, plain and simple. As we bring qualified members online we will, of course, begin conducting the research outlined above, but our emphasis right now must be to get eyes on the page. This means we have to recruit people right away who are extraordinarily talented at recruiting other people. We’ll need to attract web specialists, media specialists, social media mavens, advertising and marketing professionals, and all the ancillary folks who create appealing presentations (video producers, graphic artists, etc.). We also need solid spokespeople, including a true “face of the operation”, if you will. I’d love to say I can be that face–and realistically, I’ll have to be from time to time–but I’m needed in other areas, and there are surely people out there who can do a better job of that than I can anyway.
It would be ideal to find a whole cadre of such “faces”. Another seasteading organization has what they call “seavangelists”. I don’t at all mind lifting that awesome expression from them. We need our own seavangelists, and we need them soon.
To be certain that we’re not selling the recruitment effort short, I’m going to build two years into our timeline to account for the focused effort we need to put forth in that regard. Taken as a whole, then, that’s two years for recruiting, two more for research, five total for design and fabrication, and another for raising cash (which will probably be sandwiched in there somewhere, but let’s add it to the total anyway).
Ten years. Our timeline is ten years.
Plan to be living on the ocean by the summer of 2028.