Thursday, July 21, 2011

a lesson learned from kickstarter

i learned a boat load from our kickstarter experience. i am going to make posts over the next few days to get them down.

the model is good, but it is definitely geared toward product/business development. community development projects are a lot more ephemeral. i know that i am splitting hairs here; there are plenty of artists using kickstarter, but i see a big difference in those who are developing something like an album which is meant to be reproduced again and again by a manufacturing process and/or delivered by a retail method. i received a lot of messages that were serious and importantly asked "so what?". i do think this is a valid criticism to ask: "past the parlour tricks aspect of the device, what is it for?" business focused folks had a really hard time figuring out why we would ask for investment. i would like to share an email i got Monday. i have obscured the name for privacy:
Hello Thomas!

One of my friends shared your project with me. I watched your video about the glove and turning anything into a speaker. My question to you is "So what?". In other words: "What is the benefit of turning anything into a speaker?" "Why could this project be significant?" "How could it be used in the marketplace?"

I am not asking to be insulting but I am asking to help you help us non-techie people see the benefit and why it would be prudent to invest in your idea. If you could shed some light on that, I will be glad to share this information with all of my contacts.

Have a great day!

in my reply i tried to decscribe why open source it vital for our world and told the person about another email i had recieved a few days earlier:

Hi R***,

These are all good questions and let me see if I can unfold it a bit and describe our motivations.

First a bit of background, James and I are developing this as an open source project, which is a concept that revolves around community development, strengthening an individual through 'know-how', and freely sharing information. It is a very academic pursuit which fits right in to my career as you can see. You may want to read more here: or you might want to see it in action look here

Now to our madness, 'contact transducers' (the tech bits we are using), are indeed used in commercial applications all the time. They get used in fixtures like lamps or other objects at a shopping malls to turn those objects into a speaker to play background music or advertisements. Our projects seeks to use the tech for other audiences. One scenario could be for a group of actors who could show up and do a live impromtu performance at some public space activating sound effects, music, etc. This could allow performers to really open up their interaction with the performance space.

One other application comes from a local person who contacted me. She is a care taker here in Pensacola that uses the same technology to treat children with Autism. It sounds as if they have planted transducers into furniture that the children use to calm themselves. She has the intuition that the touch combined with auditory stimuli could expand her treatment options with the technique.

And that is the great thing about open source. It encourages innovation. It is quite likely that there are dozens of applications using the gloves that James and I haven't thought about. We are academics and artists, so we have a different take on the project. It is not our intention to be the inventors of ProductX. The Kickstarter campaign is really to help support us in building community/share the thought with the world. So that is the basis for raising money with Kickstarter.

BTW I will be leading workshops on building this, and talking about open source as a movement in November at UWF. I want to build community here also!

Don't hesitate to write back if you have other questions.


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