In 2011, I managed to transition from leader of a local Pirate Party to an international voice on information policy and civil liberties matters. These are my plans for 2012.
At the turn of the year, I precisely reached my last goal for 2011 — to attain one million readers in direct readership. These are my goals for 2012.
1. First, turn 40. One week from now, on January 21, I’m turning 40. There will be a bit of media around that and I’ll celebrate with friends in the evening. This isn’t really a delivery as such – even though failing to turn 40 years old would have a dramatic impact on my other deliveries of the year, I can’t honestly say that’s a risk I’m anticipating. This is what’s currently the most on my radar, naturally.
2. Then, release the book Swarmwise. I’ve been writing a book that summarizes my leadership experiences from the Swedish Pirate Party – what I did well, what I learned from mistakes, and how I would redo it today. In short, the costs of organizing hundreds of thousands of people to push public opinion have fallen dramatically, and this will more or less be an ops manual for activist organizations and business alike in cutting-edge leadership that changes the world on shoestring budgets. The target date for text completion is March 31; I don’t know how long it takes from text completion to general availability, but I can tell you that it will be free to copy and seed, of course.
3. Then, open up Activizr. Those who have heard me discuss organization and administration more informally have frequently heard me mentioning the admin system of the Swedish Pirate Party, PirateWeb. We would absolutely not have been able to pull this off without PirateWeb as a background support system.
This code is in the process of rebranding and replatforming to run on GNU/Linux, in order to open it up to other organizations that want to use the techniques described in the book Swarmwise. In the process of writing PirateWeb version 5, it is being renamed Activizr as to not repel non-pirate activists. Where this system really shines is in three areas: joining online with offline activism, abstracting tasks that detract from activism, and decentralizing control. A quick bullet list of what it does already:
- Manages members, activists, volunteers, and officers of the organization. Access is decentralized, so officers in a city can only see and manage the roster of that city.
- Fully geography-aware down to the municipal level, sometimes more. Notifies officers in a certain area when members/activists appear there, and sends personalized welcome mails from each appropriate level of the organization.
- Communication to members/activists/officers (per area) and to the press (per area or topic). The ability for local officers to send SMSes to anonymous activists in a general area to gather flashmobs quickly is particularly useful.
- WordPress integration: Write press releases directly in your WordPress blog and have Activizr mail them to reporters, per area and topic as specified in WordPress. This enables and encourages much more people to write press releases, particularly at the local level.
- Auto-creates mail addresses in the proper domain for every new officer taking responsibility in the organization.
- Handles financial work flows — expensing from activists, donations, receiving and sending invoices, complete with automated background bookkeeping. Last year, the Swedish Pirate Party had about 20,000 lines of bookkeeping — over 99.8% of them done on automatic by Activizr.
- Financial auditing down to scans of the individual document that was used as basis for every cent leaving the organization, complete with who uploaded them, approved them, and validated them.
- Budgets are arranged in a tree where budget owners attest expenses from activists/members, which are repaid swiftly. Cash advances can also be paid out and covered by uploading receipts later.
- Virtual banking: use one physical bank account but subdivide the means internally across geographical suborganizations in virtual bank accounts that they control individually. Leads to less spoilage in the physical bank account compared to having dozens of physical accounts, most with very small amounts in them.
- Connections to major banks and PayPal for auto-notification of donations/payments as well as electronic imports of bank statements.
- Handles inbound paper mail: sends the scan to the correct recipient and archives it.
There’s more, of course, like conference management with self-signup and automated summaries and invoices, but this list will do to give you an idea of the general system as it looks today.
Currently, I’m working with removing all the things that are hardcoded for the Swedish Pirate Party and making them customizable per organization, at the same time as I move the entire codebase to a Debian package. Quite a bit of work, really. I expect this to open up for sandbox testing some time in late summer.
I know a lot of people haven’t gotten a good response from me about when PirateWeb would be ready for outside use, and I apologize for having been less than transparent with my plans before. Future plans for expansion include handling inbound mail, too, and quite likely bitcoin integration.
4. Kick off a new global activist organization. There’s one component missing today in the global pirate ecosystem, and that is the international organized think tank that keeps everybody aware across cultures and borders. I see that I can fill this void successfully, and plan to do so in early Q4 of 2012. As the battle for civil liberties goes down in Europe, a tentative name would be “European Pirate Academy”. This depends on Activizr being ready for external use and will use Swarmwise as ops manual. I aim for 30,000 activists 12 months after kick-off, which would be enough of a swarm to mark a presence anywhere.
Note that this activist org will be independent of the Pirate Parties, and must be so in order for the ecosystem to work.
5. Speak at at least 20 conferences in 2012. In 2011, I could have three to five conferences per month, which was admittedly quite heavy. Some two per month on average is more manageable and still a high bar to reach. Currently, I’m notably booked at two TEDx conferences, which I’m quite excited about. I expect this will increase with release of the book Swarmwise, as my range of topics will broaden considerably towards business and leadership.
6. Increase readership along the way. At the end of 2012, I aim to have increased my direct readership another fivefold, from one million to five million. This requires a lot of diligent work in keeping explaining, explaining, explaining the issues of information policy – work that I’m already doing and will keep doing throughout the year.
Also, in contrast to these goals, I’ll probably fail completely in my new year’s ambition to get into shape.