LongeCity has a mission. "to conquer the blight of involuntary death". While some do not share this vision, many do - or appear to go along with at least some part of it. How does LongeCity as an organisation relate to these "others" - Are we "competition" or "stooges"? What does it mean if LongeCity mentions or recommends other initiatives and what does it mean if LongeCity members are doing things elsewhere?
LongeCity's origins lie with a personal website: On his private page where he chronicled his engagement with life extension, Bruce Klein also maintained a private bulleting board 'home for immortals'. Soon, visitors reached a critical mass.
And then it happened: Rather than staying at that level, we transcended it together. Bruce agreed to give up his control for something greater: the 'Immortality Institute' was founded as a members-based organisation.
This 'big tent' approach stood the test of time: Protagonists came and went, the original founders passed on the torch. The organisation endured, because it was no longer any individuals private agenda, it became an idea, a mission, and a community. We have left the days of the founding behind. We even changed our name, but, as an acknowledgement to this first, bold step into a unique community, LongeCity still refers to its internal Members section as the 'Immortality Institute' and remains open to Members from across the globe.
Also, until this day, our history shapes how we look at working with others: we celebrate the fantastic potential that lies in each person's own initiative and seek to empower individuals to pursue exactly those projects they feel passionate about, but we also try to link, to integrate, to join together and to collaborate in a broader context for maximum effect.
B) Private Individuals and their efforts/websites
There are many of personal websites around of the type Bruce started with. Some are just one person's way of discovering a new field, others grow into great resources or global benefit.
The great thing about them is the freedom they give you as the author to manage them largely as you please. Downsides exist: personal websites often have limited circulation beyond a particular social sphere or topic, missing chances for cross-pollination. A lot of energy is spent on re-inventing the wheel many times over, while it could be more productively channelled into improving what is already there. Mainly, they are fickle things, and anyone with internet experience learns not to trust them remaining as they often grind to a halt or disappear as the sole author/owner gets engaged in other priorities.
So on balance, LongeCity aims to make it easy for people to contribute directly to a larger pool. Members can have their own webspace or blogs or fora or linklists etc. without needing to home brew. If they want control, they can have as much as possible as long as it doesn't clash with others. (1)
On the other hand, some people only tap their full potential if they feel a project is fully and entirely their own.
IF that aspect is important to you, then please, by all means, do your own thing! We would much rather let a thousand flowers bloom than no growth at all. For maximum benefit, maybe you could still cross-reference to LongeCity? (2)
C) Other initiatives and Organisations
Now, this is a slightly more complicated topic.(3)
LongeCity understands itself as part of a movement. As usual in any movement, there are different preferences, protagonists, perspectives, powers and priorities. On the one hand, there is a real opportunity cost associated with not combining forces. It is sometimes very difficult to wish people good luck in setting up their own initiatives when, very clearly, their creative and financial resources could be much more effectively leveraged by using existing links and mechanisms.
On the other hand, different approaches and competition are absolutely essential to ensure that as many paths for success as possible are being pursued. LongeCity does not exist for its own sake. If it was not clear that we can make a unique contribution to the greater cause, we would close down and direct everyone to other initiatives. We need to be clear about what contribution we are making, when others are doing a better job and also when we are duplicating or being duplicated and why.
To all similar initiatives out there: If it looks like we are doing something very similar, please lets discuss if there are ways to generate greater synergies. This may simply mean that we stay in touch, it could mean collaboration on specific projects or it might go as far that LongeCity stops doing something and leaves it to you. OR you might decide to do what you are doing as part of LongeCity.
Two things in particular, we would much prefer to collaborate on:
1) if you are doing anything that involves a forum, we would be thrilled if you could do that at LongeCity. Over the years we have seen so many forums come and go, that we really think it a great shame to reinvent the wheel time and again. We'd gladly give you all the support and 'moderation' powers to run your own forum section at LongeCity, and a suite of powerful IT tools together with a great deal of experience as well.
2) if you are blogging or writing regular articles on life extension. Again, it is a great shame to see so many fantastic contributions swept away in the winds of time, whereas they could have been archived at LongeCity. We can easily supply you with all the tools and support, in fact we might even be able to pay you a little bit of money for your efforts - and the copyright still stays with you!
In summary, we have a mission, but not a specific 'line'. Instead we want to be a 'city'- a place where people come together. A place where different 'homes' exist fruitfully together, an umbrella group and a forum for exchange.
We would like to be a 'one-stop' info point for life extension on the web, from which people can move on to pick exactly those aspects or initiatives -at LongeCity or elsewhere- that they like. Any fellow initiatives out there, please get in touch to help make that vision a reality from which everyone benefits.
D) Advertisers at LongeCity
This is a slightly different topic. Anyone who visits LongeCity will not fail to notice that it attracts the attention of people who do not care much about our mission. Some come to debate, many to learn about nutrition (but not with an ultimate interest in life extension), some try to make money. To be quite frank, part of LongeCity's particular approach is to try to extract funds from these dynamics in order to re-allocate them towards the common mission. In this context, we sometimes partner with advertisers. Now, we do in fact discuss each advertiser internally and have rejected quite a few as not something we would affiliate with. However, at the end of the day the imperative is to raise money for a cause that we consider of life-saving importance. In that context we do not necessarily choose advertisers based on their own, (or their products) life-extension credentials. LongeCity does not endorse any advertisers beyond the fact that they have made a donation to the community in exchange for exposure. Advertisers never influence our policy, ever. Advertisers get banners (please click on them) -- thats it.
Having said that, advertisers featured at LongeCity very often have a real commitment to the cause- they would not have found us otherwise. When we say something nice about an advertiser, then that is NOT something they paid for but a genuine observation regarding their conduct and contribution to the cause.
E) Members representing LongeCity?
Membership of LongeCity is a strange thing: On the one hand, its a strictly in-or-out affair. On the other, Membership is just one way (and perhaps not a good one) to differentiate the 'talkers' from the 'doers'. If you are clearly a 'doer' we would probably consider you a Member of the life extension community whether you have joined the Immortality Institute or not. One way of simulating that is to give people 'points' for activities in connection with LongeCity. If you get enough points, Membership is free. Anyone who wants to join LongeCity but can't afford the (very modest) Membership donation, please get in touch, we have never denied membership to a committed peer based on inability to pay.
LongeCity is an open place. Membership as such does not entail 'vetting'.(4)
We hope that our Members conduct themselves in an exemplary manner that reflects well on the broader community at all times. But clearly, this is not always on the cards, not least because we are deliberately opening our doors to a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives. Thus, whether someone is a Member does not mean that this person is in any way representative of our Membership or can speak on behalf of the organisation.
What about leadership? The case is not too different. Really, the only requirement to move into a leadership position at LongeCity is some tangible commitment. We don't vet people apart from a very basic appointment review and a requirement to sign the leadership agreement. Directors and certain key officers are asked for ID, but that's about it. Now, leaders *are* expected to behave in certain ways when representing LongeCity. Clearly, they owe as much to the Membership and community. But when not wearing the LongeCity hat, leaders are free to express their views and pursue their activities as they please and without any review by LongeCity. Some leaders may have gone on to do some strange things in their lives – LongeCity does not pry into a persons private affairs, successes or failures, ventures or missteps as long as it does not affect or organisation, community and mission.
If there is uncertainty whether a LongeCity leader is doing something in an official capacity, the fault is with us for allowing this ambiguity to prevail- please let us know and we'll make sure to clarify the situation.
The above are observations that I make from the Chair... but with the proviso that this perspective and policy might well change as time moves on – as you have seen from our history LongeCity is certainly able to evolve!
I hope the above is useful as a reference point regarding how LongeCity relates to 'others'. I also hope it has become clear that we really don't see a lot of 'others'. Anyone who shares our mission is 'one of us'. People interested in life extension are often individualists -- and any talk of a 'community' will need to take this into account. But mindful of this fact, as gently and effectively as possible, LongeCity aspires to provide a hospitable 'home' for a community, for diverse communitIES and lone travellers alike.
(1) A good example of such a compromise are forum threads: A new discussion is initiated by a 'threadstarter'. A certain amount of responsibility comes with selecting a good topic, framing it well, giving it a good exposition. It can be frustrating if people spoil 'your' thread with inappropriate remarks. On your own website, you could just remove comments at will. On LongeCity, Members can ask to become Moderators of their own threads. It should be made clear in the first post if that option is used, so that other contributors are aware of this.
(2) For example, did you know that you can maintain a blog externally, AND a 'mirror' blog at LongeCity? Every post you make in your own blog can be automatically imported into your LongeCity blog. Ask if you need help setting this up.
(3) A reference to the 'Life of Brian' may help to set the scheme in a humorous way:
(4) There are some conditions of membership --they are listed in our bylaws, and I shan't go into them here, but suffice it to say that it is not very difficult to join. Very few Members have ever been expelled and where that happened it was based on activities that were directly in connection with activities on the site. While Members might sometimes be rebuked or even banned from posting on our public forums, even that does not entail automatic removal of Membership.