So once again the population at large celebrates it’s fondness for arbitrary milestones formed from the neat categorisation of a continuous variable into whole discrete units, or perhaps it’s celebrating the successful passage of the planet through a complete solar orbit in the harshness of space. I prefer the latter, so let’s go with that.
While Earth wound it’s way around Sol this project has continued to scratch an impression onto to tiny bits of silicon on it’s surface. When examined closely and interpretted with impressive mathematical formulae (using equally impressive hunks of silicon on your desks, or in your hands) we can see an impressive collection of videos has grown all the more so. Dominique Lazanski started us off with a look at her career and how she is fighting for digital freedom; our speakers corner event was hilarious, bizzarre and inspiring in equal measure (no video for that one, you really did have to be there). Then we got a bonus lecture at The Counting House by Dr Stephen Davies on The History of Individualism, which tied in nicely to another talk by Anton Howes on the Causes of The Industrial Revolution at the end of the year; and we cannot forget the debut talk from Dr Aiden Gregg who wondered, tongue in cheek, why tax is perceived much more favourably than other equally attrocious crimes against dignity. He’s back on the 9th to explain why people affiliate to political persuasions in the first place. Elsewhere, there was software development going on, more public events, and – in another “first” – the first Librtarian Home invitation-only event as well.
There have also been a few forays into public-facing activism. New website features allow bloggers to insert calls to action into their posts, and we set about planning for a protest in defence of David Miranda. Neither experiment proved wonderfully successful; I think there is a problem of scale. Of the 300 or so people invited via Meetup to participate in the protest idea seven came along on the night, meaning an unacceptably high level of committment was needed from everyone. My job in 2014 will be to scale out both the number of opportunities for activism that are presented here and the reach of each presentation. This is not a new goal for the blog but 2013 did see the deployment of new fundamental building blocks for products of this kind, products that work with the grain of a community of independent-minded intellectual people. This something I spoke about at the Rose and Crown at the very end of the year.
As Earth winds around Sol once more I hope to scratch more silicon in more economically desirable ways, in particular:
- More events and more videos – Meetup.com recently stopped publishing an ordered list of top libertarian meetups, but at the time the regular Rose and Crown gathering was the 53rd largest globally and the largest – bar none – outside of the United States. An inclusive attitude, a friendly welcome, and a cosy venue – as well as great speakers – have made the event series a real strength. I continue to notice important work going on at these events on top of the education we all get from the speakers. That is wonderful.
- A bit of commercialisation – the speaker series is such a success that I want to see it scale. I want to go back to The Counting House for more bonus lectures from top speakers and I want to get bigger besides. Scaling happens best when events make a profit so 2014 will see experiments in premium events. I don’t want to simply open a begging bowl but offer a trade value-for-value that people will really want to buy into.
- Another site redesign – the last one was somewhat forced on me because I wanted to stay on the upgrade roadmap set by a key supplier. It did give me the opportunity to showcase more articles on the homepage but it is not without problems. Something new is in the works to showcase the unique features I am building for Libertarian Home, to make clear the relationship with the Meetup, and to make it clear in an instant what is different about this project.
… And what is different about the project? The difference is you lot, the readers and visitors to real world events. This project is not about charting the progress of planets or counting the gigabytes of video etched into silicon. It’s strength is in the invisible and unquantifiable relationships it is forming, relationships between ideas as they connect together inside individual skulls, and relationships between people as they share their ideas, form new friendships and yes, sink beers together. I cannot show you in a blog post how much value there is in that, I cannot link to what you cannot see and hear, but I feel the warmth and enthusiasm in the community I’m serving and 2014 will see new ways to serve that community better.