Waging Bull

To boldly think what no one has thought before.

Kickstarter and the Paradigm of Crowd-sourced Funding

This morning I was on the Good Day morning show that airs on Fox 35 in Orlando, Florida. The topic of the segment was Kickstarter.com, and the funding of creative projects through the crowd-sourcing models. Kickstarter, of course, has gotten some fairly extensive media coverage so far this year. There may be more funding for the arts through Kickstarter than through the National Endowment for the Arts this year (more info), and Kickstarter has broken through to the foreground of the collective cultural psyche, even appearing on the IFC series Portlandia (more info).

Browsing through the individual projects, you can get a quick picture of the kinds of ideas people are hoping to fund. It is also possible to gain a sense of what types of projects gain funding, and what fails–although that’s not black and white. The idea needs to be well thought out, of course, but the presentation of the idea itself must be reasonably polished–enough so to inspire some measure of confidence in the potential donors. Perhaps most importantly, the person or people behind a particular project should have strong and extensive social networks that they can leverage for donation opportunities.

Kickstarter is not without criticisms and critics. One of the complaints is that so many of the projects on Kickstarter are, well, junk ideas. Tech blog Gizmodo.com recently ran this piece on why they are done with Kickstarter. It would seem that like so much of everything else on the Internet, it is exceedingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Yet, I don’t think that many people would deny the attractiveness of the model.

Over on my higher education blog Learning Through Play & Technology, I wrote about the concept of having specialized Kickstarter sites that cater to very particular audiences and do a good job of vetting project ideas before offering them up for funding. Certainly, that’s one approach (and probably particularly well-suited for higher education). But there’s another, more common-sense approach to being careful regarding what projects you choose to fund. And that’s called “be careful regarding what projects you choose to fund.” Seriously, there are long-standing practices and rules of thumb that many people have discarded in this Internet era, yet that are useful now more than ever:

  • Do some research. Have you heard of the people involved in the project? Do you know of some trusted source that has heard of them?
  • Review the plan. What does the project creator intend to do with the donated funds? Does that seem to be a sensible plan, and does it appear that the funding will be used responsibly?
  • Consider the project creator’s credentials. Does the project creator have experience with this type of project or the subject matter? Even though you aren’t investing as an owner, you should think like one and act as though you’re “interviewing” the project creator.
  • Use your judgment. Ultimately, the project has to pass your own smell test. Don’t assume that all things on Kickstarter are worthy projects simply by virtue of the fact that they are on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is not donating its own money to fund projects, but you are. Act accordingly.

One project I’ve donated funds to that passed the above criteria is “Compatibility, and 8 Bit Musical.” To me, one of the key factors was the venue in which the performance is to take place as well as the fact that there is an actual set of dates set. After doing my own research, that project came across as credible, and I was able to donate without concern. Just keep in mind, there are a lot of projects on Kickstart that look real good. but it takes more than just good looks to make something real.

About digitalhap

Passionate about Play and using Technology as a tool to better enjoy life.

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