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Two New Meeting Videos!

June 2, 2011 1 comment

Hipsternomics:

Labor Theory of Value:

Sadly, our Bitcoin/Silver meeting video did not film correctly due to an insufficient battery issue.  This meeting may be repeated in the future, however, due to the topic being fairly important and popular and lack of attendance last week.

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Anonymous Academy: A Whitepaper

May 28, 2011 3 comments

Hey everyone, I’ve come up with a new project that will need programmers and web designers. The whitepaper follows. Comment away!

 

Anonymous Academy

Crowdsourced Education for the Masses

I. Concept

To create an independent, decentralized, and anonymous educational platform for lifelong learning. The project will draw on the expertise of anonymous professionals in various fields who will be compensated with bitcoin, an anonymous digital currency. The students will also be anonymous, providing a situation where neither student nor teacher will be able to identify the other. This level of anonymity will allow for a frank exchange of views, and will also allow for education in topics not ordinarily possible due to government restrictions (such as advanced computer security techniques, nuclear engineering, or advanced organic chemistry). The unique bidding system will ensure that the professors work for the students, not the other way around. It will be in a professor’s best interests to offer an excellent curriculum, so that more students will want to take her courses in the future.

II. Goals

To reach 100 students by the end of 2011, with 10 professors teaching a variety of subjects. The website should be in beta by this time, with a full-scale deployment planned for the middle of 2012.

III. Methodology

A) Site Design

The site will be designed with a full range of audio, video, and text interaction mechanisms. Students and professors will be able to log-in to the site to access these services. The videos will be keyed to specific users’ YouTube accounts, audio will be stored on our own server. Eventually, we would like to move the YouTube content to our own hosted solution as well, but at the beta stage, YouTube will be sufficient. Text communications will be handled through an in-house email, forum, and chat system. Professors who wish to offer live classes can use GoTo Meeting or a similar service to hold classes.

Anyone will be able to sign up for an account with us for free. However, each class offered will carry certain fees. Those fees will be determined based on the bandwidth and storage requirements of the course, the tuition rate the professor is charging, plus a small administrative fee to maintain and improve the service.

Classes will be offered based on what people want to teach, and what people want to learn. The academy should act as an education marketplace, with professors placing bids to teach various courses, and with prospective students signing up for those courses as they become listed. When a professor bids on a course, she will include her non-identifying qualifications, the curriculum, the minimum students needed for the course, and any other information she thinks will be appealing to prospective students. The students will then be able to sign-up for the course offering by making a down-payment on tuition. Up to any point prior to the course being launched, a student may withdraw his deposit. Once a course has launched, the deposit is non-refundable. All tuition payments will be held in escrow by the academy until the course is completed. At that point, the professor will be paid, and course evaluations will be posted by the students.

B) Payment System

The academy will be using a bitcoin payment API provided by Mt. Gox Merchant Services. One advantage of this system is that it also allows users to send us payments in USD, if they so choose. All the user will need to do is set up a Mt. Gox account to handle their payment. We will be notified that the user has paid via a url callback system that Mt. Gox has established. From that point, our server back-end will be able to process the callback and denote that the user has indeed made a payment. In the case of tuition payments (currently our only offered service), the student will then be confirmed as registered for the course for the purpose of meeting the course minimum set by the instructor.

C) Marketing Strategy

The academy will be marketed as an alternative to traditional formal education. Our emphasis on placing students’ needs above those of professors or administrators will help to grow our student base rapidly. In addition, professors want to be freed from the political realities of the university system, where course offerings are all too often based on administrative funding decisions, rather than on students’ needs. The academy will allow professors to teach an unlimited number of students, and will liberate them from strict grading constraints which they have had to put up with. In addition, a professor will be able to set her own pay, based entirely on market demand for their services. Not only will professors be paid more at the end of the day, but they will know that they are providing a service that students really want. Students similarly will be placed in a position where they can design their own education based on what they want, at whatever price they can afford, at whatever speed they choose.

Specific outlets for advertising may include online forums at Kahn Academy, banner ads at UnCollege.org, Facebook ads, and Google ads. We will also be engaging in grassroots marketing at universities across the country; paying students of the academy in exchange for hosting “dropout” parties at their local institutions. By utilizing a mixture of traditional and guerilla marketing tactics, our client base will boom.

D) Profit Model

The academy will make a small administrative fee on all tuition payments in order to continue improving the service. This fee will be a percentage of the tuition charged for a course — not a flat rate. Thus, as the service grows, the profitability will grow. As profits swell, more programmers can be hired from our user community (who were educated through our service). As we hire more programmers, the service will improve. An awesome cycle.

IV. Startup Costs

Startup costs will be confined to the purchase of servers, programmers, and advertising. The entire project could be launched on shared hosting for under $5,000. As demand increases and we approach a full-scale launch, profits from the beta period will be used as seed-stage funding for growing our infrastructure.

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Tyler Frazier on the Case Against Foreign Intervention

May 12, 2011 1 comment

Follow parts 1-4 from the video below!

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Stacy Litz on the Economics of Self Ownership

Here is the presentation from last week:

Tyler’s will be up later today!

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Peter Schiff Speaking at Temple Video FINALLY Up!

Here is part 1/5, you can follow the rest through YouTube!

Sorry it took forever to get up, but I finally found a non-corrupted YouTube Video Splitter and Uploader software to download. Amazing!

Anyway, check it out:

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Annual Allocations Update

May 3, 2011 2 comments

All,

There is some bad news this year for SLF allocations, although it may pave way for a new kind of funding for our organization — one that takes our principles of private options into account.

This year, annual allocations through Drexel University’s SAFAC system were done online, through a service called Collegiate Link.  A week before they were due, I received 27 emails, all at once, into my Gmail account, announcing the due date, which seemed like a glitch that happened in the system.  As an executive board, we discussed when we should meet to work on the form, but our time schedules did not end up working out to determine a meeting time.

I filled out the form referencing our allocations from last year on my own, thinking that I could use it as an appendix and fill out the form with the same details — I even included a paragraph that explained that our allocations from last year were perfect and we would be very happy with having the same again this year, since our events are generally the same year-to-year.

Also, we thought there was another chance to fix our allocations, as there was last year, through the appeals process.  Basically, if your funding has issues of any sort, you can resubmit your request within a week or so after you receive your funding letter, which ensures there are no problems.  This appeal process is still listed on the SAFAC website, too, although the dates are wrong.

A few weeks later, our treasurer met with the head of SAFAC to discuss a purchase request.  He informally told him that our allocations were not filled out correctly and that we weren’t getting any funding — surprisingly, there was no appeals process this year.  We immediately panicked and sent emails to the SAFAC head, head chairs, our liasons, asking if we could resubmit or do anything.  Weeks passed with no response, typical to that of SAFAC, and finally we got our funding letter of about $100.  I am in the process of asking why we didn’t receive $500, as the SAFAC website says,

If your organization applies through Annual Allocations, you will be guaranteed a base operating expense of $500.00. Beyond the base operating expense, the amount an organization receives in Capital, Activity, or Conference expenses varies depending on the items asked for and whether or not SAFAC feels the items requested meet the mission of the organization or will benefit the students of Drexel University.

This leaves us in a very messy situation.  Sure, there is a way that our group can be blamed for this problem, because we never met with our liason and discussed the allocation process.  But the SAFAC website has many issues that need to be addressed — they mention an appeals process.  Also, I would like to know if my form submission was discriminated against — we were simply told “it was filled out wrong.”  No details were sent out with our final allocation.  The form itself was incredibly confusing and it was even forcing me to fill out items that I did not think were necessary (or it wouldn’t let me submit).  Also, as an extremely active group on campus that was funded about $8,000 last year, it is strange that they would so quickly deny us any funding at all — which would totally initiate our group.  $100 only funds hosting 4 tables on campus, for example, so recruiting will be limited — speakers are costly — hosting a conference is costly — etc.

Personally, I am considering seeking legal advice on this situation — something seems very fishy and although Drexel is a private university, there are ways to seek media attention against this issue and if they are violating the Constitution, I believe this doesn’t matter.  If legally seeking justice does not work, I will be issuing press releases to hopefully get some justice..

There are certainly ways to get money without trouble, especially through private funding from sponsors, but personally, I feel the need to keep SAFAC honest.  Whether this is an issue of discrimination, false advertising/contracts on their website, or just a tyranny of an unchecked university institution, it needs to be stopped or warned that its actions will not be taken lightly.

SLF is always accepting donations for our events and we look forward to starting a private funding endeavor shortly.  For now, here is our ChipIn.

Thank you for reading, and regardless of our funding, SLF will continue to be one of the most active and influential student groups for liberty in the world!

This statement was written by Stacy Litz, current Vice President, and does not contain all the opinions of the executive board.

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Upcoming Events

May 3, 2011 1 comment

May 4th, 2011:
SLF: Tabling for Liberty!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147657321969745&ref=mf

SLF Meeting: The Economics of Self Ownership
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218599574833981

May 10th, 2011:  Open Discussion on Osama Bin Laden

May 11th, 2011: SLF Meeting: Hipsternomics
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=164459263613097

May 12, 2011: SLF Movie Night: “The American Dream”
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=199226930114939

May 13, 2011:  Tabling for Liberty!

May 25, 2011:  Fabled Enemies Movie Night at MBN Studios
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=146936425376156

End of Term Economics Professor Speech — TBD

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