Kickstarter.com brings back browsing
By Jeremy Smith
Sun Star Columnist
I realized that I don’t surf the web anymore, and it’s a fairly big revelation. I used to wander around based on what Alta Vista and web rings threw at me, mainly as a way to discover some incredibly odd and unique sites. One of the weirdest was nothing but fan-fiction celebrating the alternate lives of Smurfs. I even found the end of the Internet, something you too can find if you are reading this online. I don’t do this kind of discovery anymore. I follow links to content suggested via Facebook, RSS feeds and Google News. I haven’t just surfed around for awhile… until I found Kickstarter.com. This site awoke, to paraphrase a fellow columnist, web wanderlust.
Kickstarter.com, founded in April of 2009, is a way to fund creative projects through the idea of “crowd funding.” Crowd funding is turning to the net to provide micro-payments to finance a given project, which is similar to the Donate button you see on some websites. Kickstarter’s purpose is to provide funding so an idea can be fully realized, be it a movie, art project, software program or even indie music album. Kickstarter collects and processes all of the payments and provides them to the creative project, but your donation goes through only if the project’s goal amount is fully crowd-funded.
Similar to the world of public broadcasting, most Kickstarter projects offer gifts at various levels. Everything from buttons to t-shirts, custom designed artwork, and even a mention in a film’s credits are offered to backers at various monetary levels.
One of the greatest success stories from Kickstarter is that of Diaspora. Diaspora is “the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network.” It’s essentially a do-it-yourself Facebook, and between April and June of 2010, 6,479 people pledged over $200,000 towards the program’s development. Their original goal was $10,000.
Back to my original thought, once I found Kickstarter.com, I started browsing again. A lot. I found a filmmaker who, with the blessing of Neil Gaiman, is seeking funding to recreate The Price as a CG animated film. A woman in Texas is making a radio documentary about mushrooms called “Conversations With Fungus.” Projects are presented with a video, a detailed description of the idea and a breakdown of funding levels all wrapped up in an attractive visual package.
Speaking of packages, my greatest find was “Santas On The Move: The SantaCon Robot Documentary,” created by UAF alum Nick Brewer. This project documents the SantaCon phenomenon, and his plan to build a robot Santa suit for the next SantaCon. On Oct. 1, Brewer surpassed his funding goal of $2,500 and is working towards putting out the final product on Christmas Day. Discovering unique ideas like this reminds me why I always enjoyed browsing the web. It’s great to know that I can not only do it again, but support some creative projects in the process.