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JacobFortin.com – – Page 5

Any web developers in the house?

I’m no stranger to web development, but considering the tasks ahead of me, I recognize the fact that this site will require the assistance of members in order to work and function a little more effectively. Now, allow me to lay out what I think are some core ideas that will need to be implemented in this site if we’re to succeed:

#1: It’s got to look good. While I can do a basic design for the site, there’s no way in hell I have the time to program it. So while I can handle many of the design elements, the programming will require someone familiar with CSS.

#2: It needs to be practical. I’ve recently added forums, but I know this isn’t the ultimate solution. What would work better? Newsletters? Chat programs? Virtual environments like World of Warcraft?

#3: It needs to be accessible. An inevitable part of this thing is attracting new members to replace people who naturally come and go. Because the group also believes in transparency, how can we incorporate all of these elements into an easy to use site?

#4: It can’t be expensive. While the group has no income source, we will need to keep things cheap. That means using open source technology. What are the most effective in helping to run an organization?

If you have any thoughts, don’t hesitate to share them!

We have forums

I didn’t actually think I’d manage to pull it off, but the forums are working, and so any registered members of The 300 can now post. I encourage members to go to the ‘Introduction‘ section and let us know more about yourself, your interests, and the way you would like to improve the atheism community in your own way.

The forums never did well on TGA, but I think that’s simply because there was never much thought put into what they were all about. These forums are for us alone: to discuss ideas for growing the organization, making TGA more fun and accessible, or even just trying to make new friends.

I’m also asking members for some ideas for virtual environments for us to hang out in. For now, this will do!

A Status Update

As many of you know, I’ve recently left Calgary after breaking it off with Carisa, and headed for the East Coast. My first destination was Montreal, where I spent the weekend hanging out with old friends, and eating a delicious home-cooked meal from my adoring mother. These familiar comforts have helped improve my mood, and I’ve slowly been able to get back to a work schedule again.

Progress on “The 300” is going well. I’ve already received tons of requests, and we haven’t even been pushing for it that hard. Hell, we don’t even have a proper name, which is why I always need to use those damn quotation marks when I talk about it. Nevertheless, I think the idea is making sense in people’s heads:  it could be that finally having a good way to understand the need for their support, and the excitement of being part of a fun group was just the formula I needed to really make this thing work.

Some of The 300 are now helping me finish the DVD, and bouncing off ideas for future projects. I want to hear more of these! It’s exciting (and wonderfully distracting) to listen to all of the ideas people have to improve not only the show, but to make this group thing a lot more enjoyable. That’s what I was hoping would start to happen, and the fact it’s so soon is really exciting.

Where is my invite???

I’ve been slowly emailing existing hard-core members inviting them to join up with “The 300”, but because I’ve been spending the last few days visiting friends and family, many of you are probably wondering “how come I didn’t get an invite yet?”. Well, keep in mind I’m trying to email people individually, and some of you have left me with outdated contact information. Most of you would be making my life a lot easier by simply emailing me instead, and telling me what numbers you would like to have (and a backup as they start really filling up).

I’ll be making each of your profiles myself. These will allow you to comment, and eventually, other features that other members of The 300 will desire. Remember: this isn’t just about me! The purpose of this group is to create an environment of co-operation, sharing and support. My whole goal in creating this group is to allow me the chance to invest the profit of my enterprise into creating an ever growing organization. We aim to continue to help spread skepticism and rationality in that characteristic ‘TGA style’, in order to have fun and utilize the creative energy of groups without any of the trappings of irrational cults.

I know it all sounds a little vague now, but that’s because it’s still the growing idea of only one man. Your first task is to start spit-balling ideas on this giant forum we’re slowly building. As ideas become refined and we learn from our successes and failures, I have no doubt we’ll manage to create something pretty special.

“The 300” notes

As I’ve discussed on episode #306 of TGA, my ideas of forming a group include a number of core principles. Each of these, by the way, is open to debate and discussion, though I think you’ll agree they form a good set of guidelines for the organization:

Transparency: Creepy organizations have hidden dogmas, closely guarded secrets, and everything is done behind closed doors. This is because of their sinister nature. The way to avoid this is by making the organization transparent. As the organization grows financially as well, openness will avoid corruption and the misappropriation of funds, while creating a positive environment of trust and openness.

Humor: I’ve yet to encounter a serious cult that doesn’t take itself way too seriously. Humor is a litmus test of sanity, which explains why satire and ridicule seem so dangerous to large and powerful cults, like the Catholic Church. Humor is an inoculation against the sacred or the holy.

Limited size: When organisations are small, you benefit from the creativity and energy of people. But as these things grow, they become increasingly difficult to manage, and combined with increased power and money, is an easy breeding ground for corruption. The size is roughly “2 Dunbars”, the cognitive limit of people you can manage at any given time.

Encourages People to leave: unlike weird cults who pressure you to stay, The 300 would actively encourage people to leave if they felt others would better fill that role. The purpose of limiting the number is to ensure everyone who is there wants to be there, is enthusiastic, and has found a good place among the group.

Values open dialog: TGA has never censored anyone on the site. Ever. There may come a time when that is needed (if someone becomes too aggressive or threatening), but within the membership, I cannot imagine a worse situation than people resorting to censorship. The 300 cannot be composed of only similarly minded people, lest it suffer from group polarization. I fear people who agree with me too much! There must always be a part of them who disagree and help balance our own opinions.

It has to be fun: I felt this was the biggest gap in the atheism scene, especially after watching Blues Brothers (essentially a “Catholic” movie). In the old days, church had to be a spectacle to wow the masses and entertain them. Why else would they bother to learn parlor tricks? The point is, I want The 300 to feel like paying 1.25 a week to be well worth it. And my hope is that they value it enough to increase it if they feel I deserve it. I will leave it up to them to determine my salary, since the projects I produce will go to the organization they will be a part of.

People Choose their Own Roles: keeping in mind that we need a minimum of 80% of members to be funders, it still leaves plenty of room for individuals to try and  find a role in the organization. 15% need to work on building the organization: structure, organization, fundraising, event planning. 5% need to be collaborators, working on projects in order to fund new projects. For instance, to start the comic project, we would need to sell roughly 5 books a day.

Members, be sure to leave your thoughts!

This is where it all starts

As some of you may remember, I promised if I received enough interest I’d start an alternative website with content not directly linked to atheism. Well, with my break-up complete, I thought instead I’d make this site the primary way to communicate with the 300 and show them what I’m up to (to show  them my progress, how things are shaping up, and to keep all the supporters in the loop).

First, many of you will be receiving emails inviting you to become members. In the coming days, I’ll be outlining all of the ideas and principles of the group and then slowly but surely upload all the content I’ve worked on over the years. It will act as my catalog and an open invitation to The 300 to collaborate and help develop these projects with other talented members.

The rest is all a challenge, but I’m sure that the rest of you will help me overcome each one as they come up. I don’t know about you, but I’m having fun already.

Jake #13