The Rational Argumentator's Seventh Anniversary Manifesto
In another excellent year for The Rational Argumentator, considerable progress in visitation, amplification of TRA’s content, and preserving the permanence of TRA has been made. TRA’s seventh birthday will be on August 31, 2009, and, in preparation for this occasion, I would like to offer a glimpse into major accomplishments and developments during the most successful year in this magazine’s history to date.
Since the publication of its Sixth Anniversary Manifesto, The Rational Argumentator has received 917,558 page views – which exceeds its cumulative total for the first six years of 815,019 views by a factor of 1.126. TRA’s cumulative visitation now stands at over one million for the first year; indeed, it is 1,732,577 – significantly over one million. Every year to date, TRA’s visitation for that year exceeded its cumulative visitation for all prior years, and this year I am proud to report that this trend has been maintained. If we can keep this up for another several years, TRA will become a cultural presence to be reckoned with!
New Issues and Features
During its seventh year, TRA has seen 31 new issues with a total of 310 features. This means that the rate of publication has not been as prolific as in the fifth year (50) and the sixth year (51). My extensive travels over the past year can account for this temporary decline, along with another important endeavor which I shall discuss extensively later in this manifesto. However, a variety of other features has been introduced or developed. The model city of Antideath has been significantly amplified with new free three-dimensional models of skyscrapers. I have also published a total of over 120 sections in my free actuarial study guides for Exam 3L and Exam 4/C. A new groundbreaking paper on investmentocracy proposes a new political system distinct in character from all that have come before it. This paper is based on a model constitution that I have developed – The Freecharter – which I have designed to apply to any government of a free society, be it newly established or an existing government in the process of reform. Moreover, I have made available several new musical compositions for multiple instruments, created in Anvil Studio. And, of course, during this year, The Rational Argumentator passed the important milestone of its 200th issue. I can safely say that TRA has become a well-established publication, with a rich history and a refined reputation. The longer an publication persists, the greater the likelihood that it will persist even further, as the attachment of its owners and the devotion of its reading public become ever stronger with each year of its existence. I do not intend TRA to ever cease publishing new features, and I hope that you do not intend to ever stop exploring TRA regularly.
The Rational Argumentator and The Progress of Liberty
While TRA continues to be affiliated and partially integrated with my blog, The Progress of Liberty, I have come to realize that there are limits to the desirable extent of such integration. The primary argument for keeping many of TRA’s essential features in its own domain is an argument from ownership and control. Today.com, the host of The Progress of Liberty and hundreds of other blogs, has several times altered the format of all of its blogs in a manner that I would not have selected. While I recognize that Today.com has a property right to make such modifications, I also want my readers to experience minimal disruptions and changes in the manner of presentation that they enjoy when examining TRA features. The Progress of Liberty remains a small source of revenue for TRA, and it continues to host several important auxiliary features that attract special constituencies of visitors – such as actuarial students or users of three-dimensional models. However, I have decided to shift publication of main TRA articles back to TRA’s domain, with the exception of my own articles, which I have been publishing on Associated Content to contribute to yet another small income stream. The Progress of Liberty will be updated occasionally with new small blog posts, although this will not happen daily. Most of the blog will be devoted to creating larger references of media and educational materials to which users can return repeatedly.
Rescue of TRA’s Old Issues and Features
I was surprised to learn in May of this year that Yahoo! Geocities, the service that provided hosting for millions of free websites for over a decade, was to be discontinued in October 2009. The immensity of Geocities and its past commercial success had convinced me that the service was too big – and too important – to fail. Indeed, when I began The Rational Argumentator, I did so with the impression that my work – published as it them was on a Geocities site – would last indefinitely and would be accessible to readers for many generations to come. Here at last, thought I, was a bastion of permanence – the Internet – which was not subject to the common ways in which handwritten or printed information could be imperiled.
Alas, my initial impressions from 2002 were mistaken. Geocities ceased to innovate and continued to offer the same kind and quality of service as it had in the early years of this decade. Meanwhile, the Internet grew by leaps and bounds, and numerous free services of much higher quality emerged – enabling free publication of articles and other media for those who wished. Geocities’ draconian storage and bandwidth limits remained, and its cumbersome interface for creating pages – Yahoo! Page Builder – was not at all improved. In retrospect, it is no wonder that Geocities began to lose money as it was abandoned by advertisers for more lucrative venues.
However, my resolve to make TRA a permanent institution did not waver. I was determined to save every single piece of content in TRA’s history – the closure of its old Geocities sites notwithstanding. Thus, from early July to early August of 2009, I spent approximately 1.5 hours each day transferring old TRA features to my own domain. Issues XIV through XLV are now available on the new domain through TRA’s Principal Index. I have also preserved the entirety of Mr. Stolyarov’s Gallery of Rational Art, The Rational Enlightenment Coalition, and the Chicago Methuselah Foundation Fund. In some cases, the formatting of the pages has been updated – but in many instances, the original formatting has been preserved in order to maintain an impression of how some TRA pages looked during the time period from 2003 to 2005. Now the upcoming closure of Geocities does not worry me, as TRA has survived this disruption and maintained the permanence of all of its archives.
The quest for permanence is perhaps the thread that unites my life and my ambitions. I believe that if a thing is good, it is worth having forever in the manner in which it is good. I intend for this permanent publication to be a foundation for other permanent effects on human cultures and societies. I make an effort to keep a publicly accessible record of each of my intellectual endeavors, so that their effectiveness does not wane once my memory of them fades or the skills and knowledge I learn become wanting through disuse. Just as my desire for permanence fuels my support for indefinite human longevity, so does it inspire me to ensure that the history of my work is never lost.
And yet the Internet in its present form is still far from an institution that assures permanence to every website. In the course of revisiting old published works on TRA, I noticed that their original sources were no longer in existence. During the early years of TRA, I made numerous efforts to jump-start the publication by requesting reprint permission from contributors to other then more notable sites – such as Quackgrass Press, Objective Medicine, and HarryRoolaart.com. At present, none of those three sites is active anymore, and TRA remains the only place to access many of the works written by the authors who contributed to them. When I began publishing the work of contributors other than myself, I was not aware that I would one day be responsible for the preservation of such work -- but I am pleased that my endeavors to make TRA permanent have kept accessible content that would otherwise have descended into oblivion like so much of man’s work in past ages. Even in cases where the author of a particular work published on TRA later unjustly condemned and insulted me, I have preserved that author’s work in order to accurately represent the past and to enable any merits of this work to benefit TRA’s readers.
I have learned an important lesson from the TRA rescue effort: permanence on the Internet is only assured to active websites – and, moreover, to websites under the direct control of their creator. As the majority of TRA’s features are now published on my own domain, for which I am paying, the chances that they will be endangered by some company executive’s decision to cut costs are quite small. Even if this unlikely scenario were no happen, transferring TRA to another host would be quite simple, because Lunarpages – TRA’s present host – does not have the draconian bandwidth limitations of Geocities.
I have also learned the value of duplicating content on multiple websites in order to prevent the downfall of one site from endangering the very existence of a particular work. I have, for many years now, been published in other online magazines and have contributed my work to sites such as Associated Content. The Internet may not always assure the permanence of a particular website, but a particular work can become virtually indestructible if multiple copies exist on multiple websites.
The Future of TRA
During TRA’s eighth year, I intend to maintain a high rate of publication and, hopefully, to increase it as compared to the seventh year. Moreover, I will be working on numerous actuarial study guides and on refining and releasing a free online text of my novel, Eden against the Colossus. At the same time, I would like to expand TRA’s esthetic reach through my own musical compositions and three-dimensional models of skyscrapers, while promoting the wonderful paintings of my wife, Wendy D. Stolyarov. More than ever, I will also focus on ensuring that The Rational Argumentator offers not just ideas about how to achieve the progress of mankind, but also the tools by which readers and contributors can actually bring about that progress. My intention, as always, is to see a resolution to the major problems plaguing our species within my lifetime. I cannot do this alone, and, indeed, I cannot be the primary person who does it – as the task is too big for one man. Yet I hope that, alongside thousands of other creators, I can work, influence, and inspire a critical mass of opinion and action to beat back the forces of ignorance, stagnation, death, and decay.
Keep a close eye on The Rational Argumentator this coming year and remember Ayn Rand’s dictum that he who works for the future, lives in it.___________
G. Stolyarov II is an actuary, science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre, Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, former weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov’s blog, The Progress of Liberty, offers a combination of commentary, multimedia presentations, educational materials, and suggestions for effective activism in favor of individual freedom. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. He holds the highest Clout Level (10) possible on Associated Content. Mr. Stolyarov has also written a science fiction novel, Eden against the Colossus, a non-fiction treatise, A Rational Cosmology, and a play, Implied Consent. You can watch his YouTube Videos. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statement of Policy.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.