I am pleased, with this manifesto, to conclude another successful, active year for The Rational Argumentator – a year that has seen visitation grow and TRA’s content and features expand.
As with each of its previous years, TRA has brought in more visitors this year than in any of the years preceding. Total ninth-year visitation for all TRA features was 1,398,438 page views – as compared to 1,235,379 page views during TRA’s eighth year: an increase of 13.2%. TRA’s cumulative lifetime visitation stands at 4,366,394 page views.
During its ninth year, TRA published 37 issues and 370 features – compared to 55 issues and 550 features during its eighth year and 31 issues and 310 features during its seventh year. Yet, while the rate of publication has slowed, for now, other important features have been added:
● An enhanced TRA Audio page, containing MP3 files of most of my YouTube video presentations.
● An archive, on TRA’s own pages, of the entirety of the posts on The Progress of Liberty blog – an endeavor that unfortunately was defeated by the incompetence of the failed Today.com, a.k.a. BlogDog.com. However, the wealth of content posted on The Progress of Liberty from June 2008 to October 2010 has been preserved in perpetuity on pages over which I have full discretion.
● Running from Death – an innovative series of ten free audio broadcasts on human life extension, recorded as I was running on my elliptical trainer.
● Tens of new YouTube videos on my channel, also embedded throughout TRA’s new issues.
While, with respect to technical functionality and publication frequency, TRA has been in a holding pattern for the past year, the breadth of content published has expanded considerably, as new authors and new pro-reason, pro-liberty perspectives have become available on TRA’s pages. I attribute this salutary development to the spread of Creative-Commons-licensed content throughout the Internet. TRA has heavily utilized such content to achieve both reduced transaction costs of publication and an increased pool of articles available to it. I have literally hundreds of essays awaiting my review and consideration for publication – and while I regret that I have not been able to thoroughly evaluate them all, this also means that the choices available to me have greatly expanded, and I can pick the best of the best: the most insightful, enlightening, absorbing, and sophisticated reading.
The times we live in are truly fascinating. On the one hand, the forces of command-and-control continue to manifest their expected abuses and stupidity. On the other hand, the forces of liberty, technology, and transparency have achieved unprecedented prominence over the past year. Wikileaks, the Arab Spring, Google’s tremendously promising driverless cars, and the resurgent Ron Paul campaign for the Presidency are just some of the most prominent developments in this respect. The race between progress and tyranny continues and accelerates. The Rational Argumentator will be here to give you some of the most refined insight into this race – and the role we rational individualists can play in achieving a future in which the ills plaguing humankind are continually, steadily diminished.
This time, instead of disclosing to you what I am going to do this coming year – for I have many plans, all of them contingent on the unknown future – I shall instead briefly discuss some of my wishes for how TRA might be improved functionally. If any of you have readily implementable suggestions in mind for how these wishes might be fulfilled at no additional monetary cost, my gratitude will be immense. I leave the means to accomplishing these goals open-ended for now, because I have learned through experience how quickly online technologies can advance, particularly due to open-source software. Many of the routine functions I use today – which are freely available via a routine Google search – would have been luxuries that I could have only dreamed of five or six years ago. Perhaps what I think is complicated to achieve is in fact rather simple: please let me know if that is so in any particular respect.
My ambitious “wish list” for TRA during the last year of its first decade includes the following, in no particular order:
● More efficient publication of articles – perhaps via a web interface that allows error-free copy-and-paste publishing of text, along with the parameters of the given article (e.g., the author name, the title, the issue number, and article date).
● Availability of TRA content in formats compatible with eBooks. PDF files would be a decent start – but eBook-specific formats (that are convenient to view on an eBook reader) would be far superior. But how can one produce such downloadable content efficiently, in not substantially more time than it takes to publish an article already?
● An efficient way of updating TRA’s directory of contributors automatically or almost automatically every time an article is published. Up to now, I have needed to update each contributor’s page manually whenever a new article by that contributor is published. The process has been so time-consuming that I have essentially abandoned the updates altogether. But if the contributor pages could be updated by simply entering a few parameters at the time of an article’s publication, this would motivate me to maintain them regularly.
● Limited integration with user-generated content – e.g., comments on articles or link recommendations for the sidebar. However, such user-generated (and user-added) content would only add value to TRA if spammers, trolls, and uncivil brutes are not able to deface the site, so an efficient, low-maintenance moderation element (or selective moderation with complete clearance for some) would be needed.
● A more modern method than TRA’s Yahoo! Group of maintaining a mailing list and an active, growing group of subscribers.
I recognize that some of the above functionalities may be difficult to implement even today. While I do not intend to spend additional funds in bringing these improvements about, I am willing to devote considerable time to learning how to make TRA more efficient and user-friendly. Please send any promising ideas my way – including suggested skills for me to learn if I were to build these features myself, as opposed to finding them ready-made.