Rough Seas for Sealand?

By Deane Barker on August 4, 2003

Has ‘haven’ for questionable sites sunk?: There appears to be trouble in Sealand with the founders arguing about whether it’s still…afloat (sorry, sorry).

“A widely publicized project to transform a man-made platform in the English Channel into a ‘safe haven’ for controversial Web businesses has failed due to political, technical and management problems, one of the company’s founders said. Ryan Lackey, former chief technology officer of HavenCo, said on Sunday afternoon that he left the project because his business partners had become nervous about hosting objectionable material and were leading the company toward financial ruin, with only about six customers remaining.”

Several years ago, Wired did an in-depth story about the attempt to turn Sealand into a data haven.

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  1. Dutch design proposal for micro-nation Sealand ‘Jewel Box’ exclusive online pre-release

    Since November, 2003, a Dutch research think tank has been working on aseries of symbols, coins, stamps and logos for the Principality of Sealand, a mini-state on a man-made island near the British coast. The aim of these propositions, brought together now in an exclusive online pre-release, is to open up a set of associative meanings to Sealand. Meta Haven, as the design project is called, aims to deliver a strategic proposal about community and branding for Sealand later this Spring.

    The initial collection of symbols, entitled the ‘Jewel Box’, consists of found imagery weaved together to achieve a narrative relation to the history and meaning of Sealand as a territorial state, a virtual state and a publicity phenomenon. The different designs go into such notions as islands and utopias, scandals in the network economy, piracy, search engines, fraudulent representations of the Principality of Sealand and their alleged connections, and a mathematical figure resembling Sealand’s host platform. The Meta Haven design team, consisting of graphic designers Vinca Kruk, Adriaan Mellegers and Daniel van der Velden, and architecture firm Next Architects, states that their ‘Jewel Box’ is to achieve a breakthrough in the representation of new country ventures. The Principality of Sealand, existing since 1967 on a former anti-aircraft tower in the North Sea, is the world’s most succesful attempt at establishing a new nation. Claiming national sovereignty, Sealand, recently equipped with a national bank, has been attracting global attention since years, most notably by the installment of Internet hosting facility Havenco on the premises of the micro-nation.

    As a Dutch design enterprise, Meta Haven relates to Sealand’s subjectmatter from an independent perspective. To combine cutting-edge European design with the representation of a European experimental nation is a much-needed step in the re-engegement of design with the creation and maintenance of symbols, rather than systems.

    Meta Haven’s ‘Jewel Box’ is pre-released on the Internet to deliberately interfere with the web-based Sealand phenomenon. The designers emphasize that their propositions are prototypes still, and not an official representation of the Sealand state. The Meta Haven: Sealand Identity Project can be reached by e-mail at office@metahaven.net for comments and information.

    http://www.metahaven.net

    For more information, please contact the Meta Haven Sealand Identity Project at office@metahaven.net The Meta Haven: Sealand Identity Project is carried our with the generous support of the Jan van Eyck Academie, postgraduate research institute for art, design and theory, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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