Categories: nycb | Month of Kickstarter
(4) Sat Aug 02 2014 12:37 Month of Crowdfunding 2014!:
After taking a break last year because I didn't have a steady paycheck, Month of Crowdfunding (né Month of Kickstarter) has returned! (2011) (2012) Here's how it works: every day in August I will pledge to some crowdfunding project or another. Yes, that's pretty much it.
Unlike previous years, I will not be doing writeups of each project I back, because I am in the middle of novel revisions. I will just edit this post every day with a brief update. I will also not be trawling the crowdfunding sites every day looking for quirky, offbeat projects. That worked in 2011 when Kickstarter was very small, and it worked in 2012 because I created special software tools for making it work. This year, I will rely heavily on a revolutionary new concept I call crowdnepotism.
Here's how it works. If your friend has a crowdfunding project or Patreon that you want me to support, or you've backed a project and you'd like me to back it as well, please let me know through a comment on this post, a message to @leonardr on Twitter, or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not tell me about your own project. Tell me about anyone's project but your own. The true meaning of Month of Crowdfunding is found in focusing on other people. That's the only limitation. If you say it's okay, I'll mention you as the person who suggested the project to me in the list below.
Speaking of which, the list below. The projects backed so far:
- The Ashville Blade - Supporting the journalism of a friend of Sumana's.
- "A History of Mobile Games: 1998-2008" - Just seems like a cool book.
- Dj CUTMAN, creator of a chiptune podcast that I listen to at work.
- "An Alphabet of Embers", an anthology
edited by Shweta and suggested by Zack.
- Designers and Dragons, a "comprehensive, four-volume history of the roleplaying game industry." (Found via @CrowdBoardGames and unknowingly ratified by Jim Henley.)
- Ninja Pizza Girl, "a serious game about bullying, emotional resilience – and pizza delivering ninjas", suggested by Nathaniel.
- Andrea Phillips's writing
- Epanalepsis, a graphical adventure game.
- Ben Briggs' chiptunes.
- Jenny LeClue, another graphical adventure, suggested by Andy Baio.
- Mia S-N's illustrations, suggested by Sumana.
- Accessing the Future, an SF anthology.
- Stretching the notion of "crowdfunding", I sent some money to Saladin Ahmed, who just had his basement flood.
- The games of Anna Anthropy.
- The games of Avery Mcaldno.
- Tree Climbing for Climate Change Research
- Why the long face? Functional morphology of a unique fossil porpoise
- Legends of Beforia, a card game prototype by #botALLY Patrick Rodriguez.
- Kris's comics, yay. (Not suggested by Kris.)
- African Skies: Establishing an Observatory for Students in Ghana
- I think the name of this project is too corny to say. It's a butter knife that works like a cheese grater.
- [Yeah, having troubles keeping this up to date, sorry.]
- Noisebridge reboot
- Critical Distance
- Dawn of the Algorithm (suggested by Mike Mongo)
- MS treatment for Paul Jessup, suggested by Saladin Ahmed, paying it forward.
As with the previous two Months, my daily budget is $25 or whatever it takes to get a cool reward. That corresponds to a $2 monthly Patreon pledge. And don't forget, crowdnepotism is a registered trademark of... what, now there's paperwork for registering trademarks? Screw that.
Final update: As you can tell this was a bit of a disaster, consistency-wise. I would frequently leave MoC for days at a time and have to go back and backfill, and near the end I gave up. So I think I'm done with the MoC "tradition". Not because there's not cool stuff on crowdfunding sites (there's a ton of it) but because I'm busy with other stuff now, and "back a project every day for a month" is no longer the interesting experiment it was in 2011. Even going through the science crowdfunding sites and funding science experiments became a bit of a chore given all the other stuff I have going.
I've also discovered that backing a bunch of projects gets me stuff, and I've already got more stuff in my life than I'd like. So I'm going to keep on with my rest-of-the-year strategy of using crowdfunding sites like a normal person.
Mon Aug 06 2012 09:47 Zombies of Kickstarter:
Many Month of Kickstarter projects are still going on, but since July is over I can present some interesting statistics about the projects that were started during MoK. Today I'll share the most basic graphs and take a look at the zombie invasion of Kickstarter.
My dataset includes 3758 projects for July. The first thing I need to say is that that is not every project that went live during July. I missed at least 50 projects, probably more. I'll explain how this happened in a minute, but first take a look at this graph, which shows how many Kickstarter projects launched on each day of July:
As I noticed while doing MoK, we see big numbers in the middle of the week, big downswings coming into weekends and the Independence Day holiday. This fits with what the Kickstarter FAQ says:
Once your project is submitted to us for a guidelines review, it will take us a day or two to get back to you (longer over the weekends).
But, I have a question for people who have started Kickstarter projects: once the project is approved, do you flip the switch to put it live? Or does it go live as soon as it's approved? I can't find the answer in the FAQ, and the answer greatly affects how I should read these graphs.
Anyway, let's zoom in and look at the data on an hourly time scale:
There's a noticeable low-pass filter cutting in at fifteen projects per hour. That's how I discovered I was missing projects. See, my script samples the "new projects" page four times an hour, and that page lists fifteen projects. If more than fifteen projects are approved/go live in a fifteen-minute period, I'll miss some of those projects. I originally thought this wouldn't be a big deal, but it seems to be a medium-sized deal.
(For this reason, @CrowdBoardGames isn't guaranteed to list every single board game project. A spot check against Kicktraq's board games page didn't show any discrepancies, but maybe Kicktraq has the same problem, I dunno.)
So, I don't have all the projects, but I do have a representative sample. On the left, you'll see the category makeup of all Kickstarter projects, according to Kickstarter's stats page. On the right you'll see the category makeup of the projects I gathered during July. They're nearly identical.
There's a little less film in my sample, a little more fashion and comics and games. This might be random variation, seasonal variation, or a change in how Kickstarter is used over time.
Here's the graph of when Kickstarter projects go live. The X axis is the hour of the day, Eastern time. I think this is just a measurement of when the people who review the projects are at work, but who knows. I think that local maximum at 4 AM is interesting.
Now I'm ready to tackle the first real issue: zombie projects. There are so many zombie-themed projects on Kickstarter it makes me sick with a zombification virus. How many zombie projects in the MoK dataset? I'm glad you asked: there are forty-six. 1.2% of all Kickstarter projects are projects about zombies.
Here's the projects-by-day graph for projects that mention "zombie" in their title or description:
(This does not include Bootleggers -Prohibition Era Board Game (sorry no Zombies!), since that project launched in June.)
1.2% may not seem like a lot, but it means you could do a Month of Kickstarter project and back only zombie-themed projects every day. But no, 1.2% isn't actually a lot. Why does it feel like more?
Forty-six projects is a lot by comparison with other nerd button-pushes. July saw only twelve vampire-themed projects, four pirate-themed projects, and ten that mentioned some kind of "alien". There were only fourteen "robot" projects, and three of those were actual robots. I made fun of all the Slender Man projects in July, but there were only four of those.
The category breakdown for the zombie projects has another answer:
The zombies are disproportionately concentrated in the categories I most pay attention to: books (8 projects), movies (20), and games (8). Music, a huge category I basically ignore because it takes too long to judge the projects, was threatened by only a single hip-hop zombie.
Once July's projects complete I'll be going back through the data and seeing if zombie-themed projects raise more money than comparable non-zombie projects. In the meantime, do you have any similar pet peeves? Let me know. I can determine how prevalent they really are.
Tue Jul 31 2012 13:02 Month of Kickstarter #31: Jazz Python Planet:
As I write this I have backed 269 Kickstarter projects. I've also been posting the word "Kickstarter" to my Twitter feed every day for the past month. (In my defense, it was always in a sentence along with other words.) So you might imagine that people who are hustling especially hard on their Kickstarter projects might discover me and pitch me to back their project.
Throughout Month of Kickstarter I've gotten a lot of recommendations from friends. Some I've backed, some I haven't, some I'd already backed when the friend told me about it. But from strangers? Not too often. Earlier this month someone asked me to back their video project about (I think) how to do video projects. It wasn't really my thing so I ignored it. And yesterday Daniel Davis asked me to check out Urban-Jazz Violinist Daniel D.'s New Album Project! I actually saw this project when it launched, and decided it too was not really my thing, but what the hell. It's a fine project, today is the final day of MoK 2012, so let's go out with the abandon that marked last year's observance. I've backed Daniel's project and two others:
- Practical Python: Learn programming for the real world! By backing this project I can make sure that the author talks about Beautiful Soup 4 in the web-scraping section, and not Beautiful Soup 3.
- Balance of the Planet, "An educational simulation of environmental-economic issues." That's the kind of description that usually spells trouble on Kickstarter, but Chris Crawford is behind it, so... well, it still may spell trouble. But it's a very cool idea, and the project page promises "no dancing dolphins," which is good because I handled the dolphins yesterday.
Thus ends Month of Kickstarter, coincidentally on the same day as the serialization of Constellation Games. But just like last year, the fun doesn't stop when I stop backing all these projects. Once the projects complete (or fail) I'll be updating the graphs I made last year, when I said things that sound ridiculous now, like "realistically you're not going to get more than 350 backers." What's the realistic number of backers now? We'll find out.
This year there are other people crunching numbers on Kickstarter projects, notably Kicktraq. But this year I've gathered a lot more data than I did last year, and I've got my own ideas for how to slice it up. See you then!
Mon Jul 30 2012 13:15 Month of Crowdfunding #30: Dolphins, I Say!:
Coming up on the end of Month of Kickstarter, and my pickiness has led me to pursue crowdfunding sites I'd totally forgotten about, like Petridish. Today's project is
Tracking Killers: GIS Mapping of Pacific Killer Whales, a project to map the habitat of Pacific killer whales, which as everyone should know by now are actually dolphins.
Except, while doing dolphin research for Constellation Games, I discovered that cladistically speaking, dolphins are whales. They're Odontoceti, toothed whales. In particular, sperm whales are more closely related to dolphins than to baleen whales. As a result I've become much more relaxed about policing the dolphin/whale boundary, since it turned out Dolphinville was entirely contained within Whalistan the whole time.
Sun Jul 29 2012 09:41 Month of Kickstarter #29: Jerky and a Movie:
Of the three beef jerky projects I mentioned a while ago, only one of them is likely to deliver any jerky. It's also the one with the lowest goal. A natural experiment! What's the difference between these three projects? Last year I would have been really interested in this question, but right now it seems like more like a marketing question than a number-crunching question.
Anyway, I wanted to tell you about the other project I backed today We Lived Alone: The Connie Converse Documentary:
Connie Converse was a misunderstood and multi-talented woman who dropped out of college in 1944 to pursue a music career in Greenwich Village. After years of hard work and no commercial success, in 1974 – at the age of 50 – she packed up her Volkswagen bug and drove off, leaving only notes of goodbye to her family and friends. All she left behind is a meticulously organized filing cabinet full of her letters, writings, drawings, and reel-to-reel tapes of hauntingly beautiful music.
I listened to some of the music on Youtube and "hauntingly beautiful" is pretty fair. This precis of Connie Converse's story puts me in mind of my mother and my aunt LeJeune. And you can get a digital download of the film for just $5.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you want to spend $39 on a digital download of a film, CAUCUS - New Documentary on the 2012 Iowa Caucus sounds like a good bet. By the director of Gigantic!
Sat Jul 28 2012 08:28 Month of Crowdfunding #28: Film:
Yesterday I heard about an Indiegogo project I wanted to back, but this morning I was like "well, good luck finding it based on that slender reed of information". Fortunately it was still open in one of my browser tabs. It's Digitize 100 Miles of the AV Geeks films. 16mm at a time. More old films on the Internet Archive--I'm sold!
Meanwhile, the Castle Story computer game must have a huge pent-up fan base, because by the time I saw it in the new Kickstarter projects list it had already raised about $100k. It does look really cool, and I may end up backing the project even though they're pretty halfhearted about support for a Linux version. It's probably a smarter move to wait until a Linux version shows up. OK, I talked myself out of it.
Oh, and in the spirit of a year ago yesterday, I bought The Humble Music Bundle.
Fri Jul 27 2012 08:18 Month of Kickstarter #27: Back to the Moon:
Remember July 17, when two hot sauce projects went up on Kickstarter on the same day? Man, that was hilarious. Good thing that'll never... yeah, it happened again. Yesterday three beef jerky projects launched within a few hours! 100% Organic Beef Jerky - Sweet Meat Jerky, Please Help Fund "Actively Primitive" (which also has non-jerky food items), and NewMiners Gourmet Beef Jerky.
So which one did I back? I actually didn't back any of them, because once again I heard the moon calling. RRE: Remote Rover Experiment is another project coming out of Google's X-Prize. Here the goal is to test a prototype rover design for moonworthiness. They're crowdsourcing the testing by selling vouchers for operating time on the rover. Then they see if you can break anything and measure the energy expenditure of your flailing attempts to control the rover by remote.
I thought this was a really corny idea (the project promises you "your very own mission countdown"), but over time it grew on me, so I backed the project.
Today I also backed a project I'd skipped before, Lunatics Animated Series Pilot - "No Children in Space". This is an "animated web series about the first settlers on the Moon." I skipped it when I saw it last week because although the series does take place on the moon, that's the only button of mine it pushes. Or so I thought, until I saw this post from project creator Terry Hancock on questioncopyright.org, which mentions that the series is going to be released under the CC-BY-SA license and that the goal of the project is "to get a sustainable cycle of support for a free-culture series." This is mentioned on the Kickstarter project page, but I look at so many projects during MoK I don't usually go below the fold. Anyway, that leaned on a bunch of the other buttons on my control panel, so I backed the project.
You might think Month of Kickstarter Platinum is unnecessary today, since the projects I backed, a lunar rover and the commission of free culture, are notorious money sinks in themselves. But no, there's more! For the less moneyed set, a mere $75 will get you a DIY vacuum forming machine. "Custom ice cube trays, custom chocolate molds, regardless of intricacy, vacuum forming can do it." Despite that cool-sounding promise, "not everything is formable (google draft angle)." Whatever that means.
(2) Thu Jul 26 2012 08:09 Month of Kickstarter #26: Wall Type:
Today's theme is "art for the wall". And reasonably priced art, too! First up it's
Re-Creating my Artwork from Original Dungeons & Dragons!. The original artwork having been thrown away because game companies have terrible senses of corporate history. Follow that up with Hydrophobia: A Look Into Another Universe (Prints). Nothing is said about how those photos were made, but presumably they are photos of water droplets in a hydrophobic material.
I'm still writing words in this box because I can't believe today was so easy. I'm so picky this year that MoK has been a real struggle. Anyway, back to writing stuff for money.
Wed Jul 25 2012 10:42 Month of Kickstarter #25: Don't Call It That:
Given the horrors I've seen, "ALIEN GODS" is about the least promising title I can imagine for a fiction project on Kickstarter. Which is probably why the full title is "ALIEN GODS:Card-Foster-Haldeman-Rusch-Barnes-Steele-Resnick". OK, with big names like those, I'll take a look:
The concept for this anthology is to present stories about the religions of aliens encountered by humans as they explore the universe, and the culture clash that ensues.
Solid idea, good editorial credentials, and most importantly, a desire to anthologize other peoples' work rather than self-aggrandizing. I'll back it even though there's no electronic edition!
Today's pandering project: 2013 Cute Guys and Kittens Calendar. Featuring "cute, local guys", so you know it's got a low carbon footprint.
Tue Jul 24 2012 11:20 Month of Crowdfunding #24: Space Shuttle:
Back to Rockethub today to back ROCKETS On RocketHub - Space Shuttle Movie! As you might have guessed, this project is a film about the end of the Space Shuttle program. Like many space-related crowdfunding projects, this one doubles as a Month of Kickstarter Platinum entry: high-roller contributions get you perks like a visit to a private space launch. And like many space-related crowdfunding projects, I backed it.
(1) Mon Jul 23 2012 12:21 Month of Crowdfunding #23: I Come To Bury Awesome Dinosaurs, Not To Praise Them:
Monday's a good day to catch up on non-Kickstarter crowdfunding sites, because Kickstarter's so quiet over the weekend. Today I went to Rockethub, which has a lot of cool crowdfunded science projects. Rockethub did not disappoint: after some browsing I found The Feathered Dinosaur Death Pit!, an excavation of a dinosaur burial site near Green River, Utah. (Insofar as a paleontological dig in Utah can be "near" anything.) This led to my biggest spend of this year's Month of Kickstarter: $35 for a cast of a Falcarius utahensis claw! It'll look great next to my U-Dig trilobite.
Back to Kickstarter: nerd pandering is passe, but hipster pandering is hot, hot, hot! It's The Mason Jar Cocktail Shaker! Oh yeah.
Sun Jul 22 2012 09:29 Month of Kickstarter #22: Rolling the Dice:
Today I'm backing two Kickstarter projects that break my personal rules. I have these rules for a reason: they help me filter out the large amount of crap on Kickstarter. But these projects have been around for a while and I keep mentally coming back to them, so I'm going to override the general rules and give them a shot.
First, it's Mozart From an Ice Cream Truck. Earlier in Month of Kickstarter, I saw a project called Bruckner from an Ice Cream Truck. It was a funny idea. It raised $0.00. It looks like project founder Alonso del Arte decided that Bruckner isn't a big enough name, and he might have better luck heading the playlist with Mozart.
By backing this project I break my rule "don't back random conceptual stuff." But I noticed that del Arte has started ten clever Kickstarter projects, like The Symphonies of Michael Haydn need nicknames, Typography of Music concert, and Ukulele Concerto in A minor. Given that I've already gotten enjoyment just from reading his old projects, it seems only fair to show some support for his latest. I wish I'd heard about "The Symphonies of Michael Haydn need nicknames" when it was going on, though.
Second, we have A Slow Cold Death, a novel by physics professor Susy Gage: "A cozy mystery featuring big-ticket rocket science and the competitive atmosphere that leads to data theft, threats, and even murder."
Sounds fun, right? But in backing this project I break one of my most cherished, hard-won rules: don't back a book project where the project image is the cover of the book in wraparound format.
Wraparound format is what print-on-demand presses use: a single image with the book's back cover on the left and the front cover on the right. Every other time I've seen this kind of project image on Kickstarter, the book has been self-published crap about the simple equation that explains the entire universe, or the time Connie the Bunny got lost in the forest and had to learn a valuable lesson about sharing in order to get back home.
But A Slow Cold Death isn't self-published. It has a small-press publisher, dedicated to "giv[ing] a voice to nerds and geeks everywhere, people who can give an inside view into the underbelly of biotech, rocket science, or just everyday life at universities." And the book itself looks like something I'd want to read. So, I'm backing it. But, for the record, here's how you create inexpensive Kickstarter project images for your small-press books. Show the front cover of the book, plus some other stuff.
Sat Jul 21 2012 10:21 Month of Kickstarter #21: Hot Space:
In a continuation of yesterday's Apollo 11 special, I put up for Fight For Space - Space Program & NASA Documentary:
We are not producing your average space documentary where we show restored footage from the moon landings and CGI galaxy renderings. We are covering the real political and economic issues of the recent past, today, and tomorrow.
Second, it's... more hot sauce. I backed the Bravado Spice project I mentioned earlier because I kept thinking about the idea of pineapple habanero hot sauce. And I wanted to do two projects today.
Time to go out and enjoy the weekend.
Fri Jul 20 2012 12:13 Month of Kickstarter #20: Election Day:
Today's nail-biting project: The Election Day Calendar.
The Election Day Advent is a twist on the classic holiday tradition. Just hang it up, and open a door a day ‘til Election Day (Tuesday, November 6, 2012), and reveal fun facts and thought-provoking quotes about our democracy.
The company running that Kickstarter is the suspicious-sounding Gerrymander LLC.
Non-backed bonuses galore! Demand more nerd pandering? Check out the Little Urban Achievers - 28mm Miniatures. And the Slender Man returns to Kickstarter with Osiris Chronicles in HD. I'm not complaining--every Slender Man-themed Kickstarter project prevents a zombie-themed project.
Thu Jul 19 2012 08:57 Month of Kickstarter #19: Crea:
Only one project today but I'm really happy about it: Crea, a 2D crafting game that's designed for easy modding with Python.
I haven't mentioned this on NYCB, but during the most recent Seven Day Roguelike Challenge I write a little Unicode-based crafting roguelike called "Walk in the Park". You can see a screenshot to the right. The interface is pretty awful but I did implement the basic features of this kind of game: destroying nature, crafting its bounty into blocks, and building things out of the blocks.
I stopped work on "Walk in the Park" after the seven days because I have way too many other projects. But being able to implement my crafting-game ideas in Python, without having to write a whole game, sounds pretty nice.
Finally, Month of Kickstarter Platinum returns! Kind of. Ace of Aces rotary series limited edition reprint. is only $60, and last year I would have backed it just for its historical importance, but like I said, lower budget this year. Check it out, though.
Wed Jul 18 2012 08:33 Month of Kickstarter #18: Funding Science:
You'll recall that two hot sauce Kickstarter projects launched on Monday, and that yesterday I tempted fate by backing both of them. Well, today fate tempted me, by producing two more hot sauce projects: Bravado Spice: Artisan hot sauces! and 1Xinfin's - KGWans Hot Sauce. For some reason, rhetoric that would make me stay far away from any other Kickstarter project makes me feel like a hot sauce project is in good hands:
Founded in 2010, 1Xinfin’s mission is to educate through deliciousness. Subtley teaching happy customers that what tastes good does not have to be bad for you. The name comes from an abstraction of love times infinity and that is what we try and put in everything we offer.
But I'm not going to back four hot sauce projects in a row. Instead I backed 1000 Student Projects to the Edge of Space, a genre of project ("put a bunch of projects on a high-altitude weather balloon") which I never tire of backing.
And the science trend continues with my backing of An album all about science! "Terra Lumina", from the guy who autotuned Carl Sagan to bring us Symphony of Science.
Yeah, I dunno what else to say. They're projects, they're cool, I backed 'em. Have a great Wednesday.
Tue Jul 17 2012 10:47 Mental Organism Designed Only for Kickstarter:
Yesterday Jason Scott tipped me off to Kicktraq, a site that gives a much better interface to Kickstarter projects than does Kickstarter itself. Among other things, Kicktraq gives you the coveted list of new projects in a given category. And the creator of Kicktraq seems just as interested as I am in number-crunching backer statistics.
Speaking of statistics, Sumana sent me to The Untold Story Behind Kickstarter Stats [INFOGRAPHIC], which does have an infographic but also explains things in sensible English text with graphs.
In so far as last year's Month of Kickstarter had a serious purpose, I felt people were distracted by the big-name projects and not getting in the weeds to figure out how things worked. Now there's a ton of attention on the project base as a whole, some of it based on crawls of the entire dataset.
What can I add to this? Since I did this project last year, I can now talk about fulfilment. I didn't keep track of exactly when I received all the different backer rewards from last year's Month of Kickstarter, but generally they post an update saying "the stuff finally shipped", so I just need to go through and find all those emails.
Anyway, on to the Month of Kickstarter portion of this post. There are two new hot sauce projects on Kickstarter today, and I backed both of them. SINNERS + SAINTS Hot Sauce and Blue Owl Vines - Organic Hot Sauce. Will I really eat all that hot sauce? Well, yes, eventually.
Mon Jul 16 2012 09:11 Month of Kickstarter #16: Chocolate Aquarium:
Last year I backed the Firebird Chocolate project, although apparently not as part of Month of Kickstarter, and my reward was chocolate. This year, Firebird is back, and having learned nothing, I've backed their second project as well.
Second, it's The ToyQuarium Project, which "will make the world's first miniature tilt-shift timelapse of an aquarium". I imagine you're gonna tell me that tilt-shift photography is played out, or that fish are nowheresville, daddy-o. Well, I don't want to hear it. Instead, I want to see a tilt-shift timelapse of an aquarium.
Sun Jul 15 2012 07:54 Month of Kickstarter #15: Stop Motion:
Another tough weekend. I dipped into my starred projects and backed Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa, bending my rule against backing big-name projects for MoK because I'm a Charlie Kaufman fan and would probably have backed the project anyway. Off to do other stuff now; hope you have a great Sunday.
Sat Jul 14 2012 08:45 Month of Kickstarter #14: Misunderstanding Space:
I need to get ready for writing group, but let's back some cool projects. First, Misunderstanding Comics, a ranty parody of Understanding Comics that covers the mainstream comics industry, as opposed to the art-comics world Scott McCloud inhabits.
Second, SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You!. SkyCube doesn't do a whole lot, but neither did Sputnik, and unlike with Sputnik there are some very cheap reward tiers.
No Month of Kickstarter Platinum today, but I want to let you know that there are two active Kickstarter projects for films based on the Slender Man meme. Two! And they've both got very low targets, so a Month of Kickstarter Platinum-minded person could fund them both and make them fight. Yesterday also saw the launch of a project to make a Polybius film. It's a creepypasta invasion! How long until a unauthorized Candle Cove adapation takes to Kickstarter?
Fri Jul 13 2012 08:49 Month of Kickstarter #13: Summer Reruns:
Not really happy with today's crop of projects! I covet today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum object, the Nomiku sous vide cooker, but I'm not going to drop $299 on it. I need new pots, not a new gadget.
As you can tell, my observations on last year's MoK have changed the way I approach this year's. There are some projects that are interesting but whose owners clearly aren't hustling (or whose hustling has failed). Last year I thought those projects just needed a little publicity and that my writing about them could make a difference, but it never helped. So now I don't think it's worth the time it would take to write them up. I can't hustle for you.
Of course, that calls into question the whole point of Month of Kickstarter. Last year I excluded projects that are obviously going to succeed, and now I've started to exclude long-shots. Is there really that much in the middle? How did I think this year's MoK would be easier than last year's?
Anyway, instead of backing a new project today, I've bumped up my Pitfalls and Penguins pledge to get the signed copy. Live the anticlimax!
If this keeps going on I'll go back to backing projects much more impulsively, and see how I feel about that.
Thu Jul 12 2012 08:35 Month of Crowdfunding #12: Gaming Jetpacks:
We run a family-friendly show here at Month of Kickstarter 2012. Or at least we did until today, when I backed Gaming Grindr, a book that analyzes the gay cruising app as a geolocation-based game. I had an idea to add a subplot about this sort of thing to Constellation Games, as part of the abandoned "evil psychology" arc, and one reason I abandoned that arc was I don't know very much about this stuff. This will change!
And then it's right back into games designed to be games, with Jetpack 2, a cross-platform 2D game where you fly around in a jetpack and collect floating gems. You know... life's simple pleasures.
Today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum project is Immortalize Your Pet. Live out the ultimate idle-rich fantasy by commissioning an oil painting of your pet. Well, "cat or dog." No guinea pigs or tuatara. Prices start at $375.
(1) Wed Jul 11 2012 09:33 Month of Kickstarter #11: Penguins & Bees:
First, check out Pitfalls and Penguins: First Printing, the physical manifestation of a pen-and-paper RPG written by Joe Hills. A while back I started watching Joe's hilarious Minecraft videos while exercising, and then was not terribly surprised to find out that he knows Brendan.
Pitfalls and Penguins is a collaborative improv game. Players should try things because they are awesome and hilarious, even at great risk to themselves.
My kind of game.
Second, North Fork Bee Co, not a company run by bees but a company that gives bees a place to live and then takes their honey. Hmm, when I say it like that it doesn't sound so good. But I do like honey.
Today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum project is Ninja Standing Desk, a portable standing desk ($147) that hangs from a hotel room doorframe. Neat!
And in news of nerd pandering, I was really excited about Meta Awesome Cards right up to the point where I saw the example cards. I've been thinking about a similar project for a while and was excited to see someone implement it, but this is not what I had in mind. Obviously I haven't tried these cards out, I've just seen pictures of a few on a Kickstarter project, but it looks like they add a lot of randomness to any game and make it take longer. It feels like a metagame based around putting money on Free Parking.
I'm no foe of chaos in games—I backed We Didn't Playtest This: Legacies—but if I was in the situation Meta Awesome Cards is designed for, I'd play the metagame of mashing up my existing games a la Crazy the Scorpion. But give it a look; maybe I'm wrong.
(1) Tue Jul 10 2012 10:41 Month of Crowdfunding #10: Huzzah! of Code:
Maybe I should change my birthday so Month of Kickstarter isn't full of Burning Man projects. Not that the Burning Man projects crowd out other projects, I just find it annoying. Anyway, here's today's crop:
- New Album! 80s Flavored Folk Pop! Huzzah!, which I backed more or less entirely on the strength of the "Huzzah!". It's an adventure!
- Going back to IndieGoGo for BlackGirlsCODE's 2012 Summer of Code: "BlackGirlsCODE will hold programming workshops in seven cities across the country for girls of color during our 2012 SUMMER of CODE." Not, I'm pretty sure, affiliated with Google's Summer of Code.
I don't think I mentioned this explicitly, but if there's some crowdfunding project you think I should back, let me know about it. That's a general rule, but I'm more likely to actually back a suggested project during Month of Kickstarter.
Mon Jul 09 2012 11:35 Month of Crowdfunding #9: Plastic Games:
Today I took a look at IndieGoGo's games section and found two projects that look great: Resurrect ADOM development (ADOM being one of my favorite roguelikes from way back), and Help The Little Metal Dog Show get to Essen 2012! (The Little Metal Dog Show is an excellent podcast of board game-themed interviews.)
And to top it all off, I went back to Kickstarter on Rachel's suggestion to back Join the Midway Film Project! "The MIDWAY film will take the viewer on a stunning visual journey into the heart of an astonishingly symbolic environmental tragedy."
I found a Month of Kickstarter Platinum candidate, but the campaign had ended by the time I got around to posting this, so don't cash in those platinum bars until tomorrow.
(1) Sun Jul 08 2012 12:14 Month of Kickstarter #8: Ice:
Making it quick and backing just one project today: Columbia Icefield Gigapixel. But we also have a cool Month of Kickstarter Platinum: $175 gets you a Cardboard Robot: robotic arm and smart phone camera crane.
See ya tomorrow!
Sat Jul 07 2012 08:15 Month of Kickstarter #7: The Theatah:
Today's Month of Kickstarter is kind of conceptual, I don't know if you'll get it. First, Where in the World? The Untold Story of Camilla Sanfrancisco, a musical Carmen Sandiego spoof playing in July at the DC Fringe Festival. $25 gets me (and, significantly, Sumana) the soundtrack album.
Some backstory for the second one. My standing search for "Beautiful Soup" recently started turning up a stream of chatter about a fundraising campaign for the New York-based Beautiful Soup Theater Collective. And I'm sure the people behind the Beautiful Soup Theater Collective have been confused by my screen-scraping software showing up in their searches. So in an Oulipian move I've contributed $25 to the IndieGoGo project Save Beautiful Soup!, based solely on the coincidence of names.
That gets me a ticket to a show, and I intend to use it to see Beautiful Soup's production of Moose Murders, a 1983 flop which "closed on opening night to some of the most scathing reviews in history." ("A visit to Moose Murders is what will separate the connoisseurs of Broadway disaster from mere dilettantes for many moons to come." —Frank Rich) And you can bet that'll make for an interesting NYCB post next January.
For today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum we turn our eyes back to space, where you're going to need some kind of special clothing to protect you from vacuum. Final Frontier Design's 3G Space Suit has you covered, or will, if you shell out $10,000:
At the Suborbital Level and above, we are offering real space suit hardware (though it is not flight certified) and therefor[e] are required by the Department of Defense to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations of ITAR, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. Get your very own, personalized, ITAR paperwork from FFD and participate in the unfortunate militarization of space!
Wish I'd known about that twist while I was writing chapter 15 of Constellation Games.
Fri Jul 06 2012 08:20 Month of Kickstarter #6: Moon:
Damn, everyone clearly decided to hold off launching their Kickstarter project until after the Fourth, because yesterday saw about 230 launches, compared to 50 the day before. So today I had no problem finding two thematically consistent projects I wanted to back. How often does that happen?
- First off, Moon Intern, a very ambitious pixel-art game for "PC/Mac and Linux computers." Why are PC and Mac grouped together but Linux is separate? Anyway, if there's a Linux version, I'm in.
- If a pixel moon isn't enough for you, there's Student Built Lunar Rover Prototype for Google Lunar X PRIZE. "We need to purchase a CNC milling machine in order to complete construction of our flight-like lunar rover prototype." Lunar rovers and CNC milling machines! It's like they started that project just for me!
Today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum is also the lunar rover one, only at the $10,000 level. At those lofty heights of backing, instead of a T-shirt or a 5-gallon tub of duck sauce, you get to send your DNA to the moon. Yield to the panspermia urge!
(1) Thu Jul 05 2012 08:18 Month of Kickstarter #5: Sierra Seasons:
Since yesterday was a holiday the crop of new projects was very small, and for whatever reason not that inspiring. It's proving difficult to meet my super-picky requirements for this year. I may go back to backing just one project a day. But for now, I went back to my starred projects and paged a few pages down in the "ending soon" list, and came up with these two cool projects:
No Month of Kickstarter Platinum today, but I did want to give a shout-out to PastPages, a site which I discovered through its founder's already-funded Kickstarter project (ending in 24 hours). PastPages archives images of the home pages of many news sites once an hour. News sites archive their stories, but don't archive the way they presented those stories when they were new. Archiving that presentation is something I've wanted since 2007 and never got around to it. Many thanks to Ben Welsh for stepping up.
Wed Jul 04 2012 08:45 Month of Kickstarter 2012 #4: Devoted:
Picking projects is a little trickier than last year because I'm trying to a) spend less money and b) only get rewards I really want. But on our nation's birthday I'm blessed with a no-brainer: Authorized DEVO Documentary Film! $25 is a good deal for a digital download of the film.
I also dropped $10 on Cosmic Voyage – An Exciting New Translation, a reissue of a 1936 Soviet silent science fiction film. Just because it's such a cool project. But I think $75 is too steep a price to pay for the movie itself. (Wikipedia: 'removed from circulation by Soviet censors, who felt that an animated sequence of cosmonauts hopping across the gravity-free lunar surface was antithetical to the spirit of "socialist realism."')
Well, if you have $75 to burn, go ahead and back the Cosmic Voyage project. But if you have $229 to spend, no more, no less, your best bet is today's Month of Kickstarter Platinum: YRG-Pro: Professional Grade MIDI Guitar!
(2) Tue Jul 03 2012 08:41 Month of Kickstarter 2012 #3: Universe's Fair:
Welcome back to the all-month cavalcade of crowdfunding. As the month progresses I'm getting a better picture of the flow of new project launches: on Sunday only about 50 projects were launched, but yesterday saw about 175 launches. You can expect some interesting statistics at the end of the month, let me tell you. But for now you can expect some interesting Kickstarter projects:
- I pledged $12 towards Bringing History to the Public, a project by the World's Fair Historical Society which is probably the worst-designed Kickstarter project I've ever contributed to. But I find the story incredibly compelling--Randy Richter has a ton of World's Fair memorabilia and wants to get exhibit space for it. Exactly the kind of project I want to discover in the firehose and highlight. I'm hoping that someone who's actually done a crowdfunding project before is also really into World's Fair stuff, and can help Richter fix up his copy and rewards (Although I don't think you can change reward tiers after the project starts? See, I don't know this stuff.)
- Better designed is Bicycle Astronomy, a get-the-public-to-look-through-a-telescope project. $15 gets me a patch, and I know at the start of this project I said I didn't want patches, but this is a patch I can use on my eventual Freeman Lowell/Joel Hodgson cosplay jumpsuit.
Speaking of bicycles, today's "Month of Kickstarter Platinum" showcases @cme FlatFree Bicycle Wheelsets, bicycle tires that will never go flat but which require custom-sized rims. $280 gets you rolling!
Mon Jul 02 2012 06:13 Month of Kickstarter 2012 #2: Soap Jazz:
Welcome to Monday! I have to revise a story for writing group, but first, some Kickstarter projects:
Time to inaugurate a new feature I didn't have last year, "cool project I'm not going to back because I really don't need the reward, but several people who read this might want to back" (better name forthcoming). Today's cool project...people who read this might want to back (say, that's a better name) is Print on Fabric Using Sunlight.
In addition, I'm on the fence about Pixel Lincoln: The Deckbuilding Game. I think my game group would enjoy it but it's just too much nerd pandering for me.
(1) Sun Jul 01 2012 10:41 Month of Kickstarter! #1: Flower Comics:
I've resolved the problem I mentioned last time, and Month of Kickstarter 2012 is on! It's on like Donkey Kong Country. But first, let me run down a couple changes from last year's event:
- Last year I pledged at least $25 to every MoK project. This year I have less money budgeted, so I'm going to give whatever amount it takes to get a cool reward (see the last post for what I consider "cool"), even if that's less than $25. I'm also going to focus more on projects where I can get that cool reward by spending only, say, $15.
- I'm not gonna spend a whole lot of time writing up the projects. Last year MoK was my creative outlet for July; this year I have a ton of other creative projects going on. And one of my lessons from last year is that my Ciceronian eloquence does not make the difference between you deciding to back these projects or not. It depends on the inherent interest of the project to you. So I'll just get out of the way and let the projects speak for themselves.
With that in mind, let's get started! First off we have FlowerFall: Cards From The Sky, a game published by Asmadi Games, publishers of last year's MoK hit Fealty. A game about dropping cards that have flowers printed on them. Like a dexterity-based Carcassonne.
And the nerdery continues with Edgar's Comics (Film) - Act I, the first part of a (non-documentary) film about the origin of modern comic book collecting.
That's day one! Last year I didn't actually ask y'all if MoK was interesting for you, so feel free to let me know in comments how you feel about this concept in general.
Fri Jun 29 2012 11:49 Month of Kickstarter?:
July, my birth month, approaches, and the question on everyone's lips
is, "Question on my lips? Who uses that kind of archaic
construction?" I do, and now that we've gotten that question out of
the way, let's talk about last July's project, Month
My plan was sheer elegance in its simplicity. Every day I would go
list of recently launched projects, scan the ~50 new projects,
bookmark the interesting ones and then put money behind 1-3 of the
interesting ones. Then I wrote about the projects I'd backed on News
You Can Bruise. This was a) a birthday present to myself and b) a
great source of experimental data. Would it be fun? (Yes!) Could I could drive my readers to
contribute to Kickstarter projects? (Not really!) What would Kickstarter's official
stats look like if they only covered projects I, personally, cared
about? (Quite different!) Most importantly, what about the backer
The backer rewards are great. It's like being pen pals with the
Internet. I'm still getting rewards. Yesterday I went and picked up my
ice cream for July 17's Milk Not Jails
project. My laid-back, experimental attitude towards the whole thing
has saved me from nerdrage when the shipment schedule slips, or the project owner flakes out altogether, or the
reward arrives and is just disappointing or lousy.
BTW, flakeouts are very rare, but I gotta name-and-shame Keith
Kritselis of the tesselated cookie cutter project because I did a whole detailed analysis of
his project and now he's flaked out and not delivered anything. Didn't see that coming! I hope he's just flaked out, and not dead or in prison.
Anyway, the actual question I've been thinking about: how about repeating Month of Kickstarter this July, to get a
new data set, a new bunch of rewards, and see how things have
I can tell you right off that I've changed. I am a lot pickier about Kickstarter rewards now than I was last year. I'll like a book/movie/album (preferably electronic), or some food, or a game, or a nice piece of art I can frame and hang up, but that's about it. I don't get any great satisfaction from having my name in the credits, and I'm tired of stickers and patches. I thought those would be great rewards because they're easy to mail and don't take up much space, but turns out I don't use 'em.
And one thing about Kickstarter has changed: usage has exploded. After last year's MoK I kept checking the new
projects page every day, but I stopped after a few months because it was
just too much stuff. I don't have time to read that firehose, so I backed a Kickstarter project to do it for me.
My estimate as of today is that there are
150 new projects posted to Kickstarter every day. I need to
double-check this number tomorrow and possibly update this post,
because it's a statistic Kickstarter doesn't provide. (Update: The actual total is more like 125.)
And here we come to the problem. Kickstarter's UI has not changed. Not in any way that would make
Month of Kickstarter easier to do, and it wasn't that easy to
begin with. 50 projects/day was kinda doable, but I'm not going to look through three times that many, and there's no way of filtering out the ton of projects I almost certainly won't be interested in.
UI is very carefully designed, so after a year of seeing it not change
in ways I think are pretty obvious, I'm starting to think the
absence of certain features is deliberate.
Forget Month of Kickstarter for a minute. Imagine that you, like
me, are really into board games. You want to track all the new board
game projects added to Kickstarter. You can't. There's no way to do this except by going
through the global "new projects" page every day and picking out the
board games. You can see "staff
picks" and "popular
this week" and "recently
successful" and "most
funded" but not "new". (Feel free to prove me wrong--I'd rather
have this functionality than be right about its absence.) It's like a
bookstore that has all the sections you'd expect, biography and horror
and so on, except the "new releases" are all jumbled together and
ordered by release date.
I have a hypothesis: there's some basic incompatibility between
browsing, which is what I want to do, and Kickstarter's user model or
business model. Over the past year, instead of doing things that would
make Month of Kickstarter easier, Kickstarter created a site-internal
social network so that your pals' activity would filter
through to you and you'd find out about new projects that way. I think that's
their user model: money flows to a Kickstarter project through a social
network rooted at the project's creator. Social networks
driven by Facebook and Twitter and just plain advertising (the board
game podcasts I listen to have a ton of advertising for Kickstarter
projects), but also now possible through Kickstarter itself.
Apart from the "Recently Launched" page and a couple others that
aren't as useful ("Ending Soon" and "Small Projects"), every project
discovery mechanism on Kickstarter (and there are a ton) is
based on finding projects ratified by someone else: Kickstarter staff,
or people in your social network, or someone operating
under the name of a trusted brand, or (as with "most funded") just
an unusually large number of random backers.
And sure, this works. I back my friends' crowdfunding projects all
the time. But it means that your Kickstarter project is
guaranteed to to sink without a trace unless you can get someone
else's attention outside of the site. If I'm right, this is
the point of the whole design. We learned from the last Month of Kickstarter that your project will fail if you don't
hustle. Kickstarter makes it clear that hustling is your job by
effectively hiding all but the most-hustled projects. Most site
visitors aren't interested in backing sixty projects to see what
happens. They want to back one or two projects from a curated list. So the system
works for them.
The problem for Month of Kickstarter is that while hustle may or
may not bring success to your individual project, it will not show your project to me unless our social networks intersect. That's not good enough. I need to see a list. But the list needs to not have 150 items in it every single day. I've spent the last eight months doing a project (the Constellation Games author commentary) that forced me to do a big context switch every week. I'm not really feeling the need for a daily context switch, and I certainly don't want to look at 150 projects a day. Last year "Recently Launched" did the job, but this year it won't.
They must have these advanced mechanisms. Whoever puts
together the curated O'Reilly page doesn't trawl through 150 projects
a day seeing if there's one they want to add to the list. But without
access to those mechanisms I can't really do this.
Like I said, I'm gonna give it a shot anyway. But it may descend into me backing projects without writing about them, or I may give up altogether. I've got other stuff I need to work on, and the thrill of gathering another MoK dataset to compare against last year's is probably not worth the time.
Mon Nov 21 2011 18:11 Haul Of Kickstarter:
Here's a photo of all the physical objects I've received because of Month of Kickstarter:
It's been almost four months, and I frankly expected a slightly bigger pile by now. It's possible that some of the projects asked for my address in an update rather than with a survey (please don't do this, folks--I'm getting 5-10 project updates a day, and I don't read them all), but the big items are board games, which just take a long time to produce, so I don't feel bad. I took this picture now instead of waiting for a bigger pile of stuff, because I have a feeling that pretty soon that bar of Firebird Chocolate is going to go "live on a farm" with the other three bars I was sent.
(3) Tue Sep 27 2011 17:24 Month Of Kickstarter After-Action Report 2: Details:
I decided to take a detailed look at the tesselated cookie cutter project. I chose this one for a couple reasons. First, the project succeeded, so I'm not rubbing it in when I suggest things that could have been done better. Second, a lot of interesting things happened over the course of this project. Third, the product is cool.
I scraped the list of project backers to make this graph of backers over time:
The red diamonds single out days when the Keith Kritselis, the project owner, did an update.
This project was very popular among people who don't use Kickstarter. This pie chart shows how many other Kickstarter projects this project's backers (including me) have backed:
Half of the people who backed this project signed up for Kickstarter just for this project, and never used Kickstarter again. These are the numbers as of today, so someone who joined Kickstarter because of this project but then went on to back another project would show up in the "1" slice of the pie, not the "None" slice.
Despite the broad appeal, the main reason this project succeeded was that something really anomalous happened on the last day. According to this update, what happened was Stephanie Nelson, who has a huge following as "The Coupon Mom", posted about the project on Facebook. This brought in a huge number of new Kickstarter users.
Here's another pie chart that looks at the Kickstarter experience of people who backed the cookie cutter project on the last day. 77% of those people signed up for Kickstarter just to back this project and never backed another project.
If you go to the bit.ly statistics page for the Kickstarter page's shortened link, you'll see the effect of Stephanie Nelson's Facebook post there as well. The vast majority of clicks on that shortened link happened on August 16.
This is not the first time the project had gotten a lot of publicity. Update #3 shows that in early August, the project got a write-up in the local newsweekly, the Austin Chronicle. But that only brought in ten new backers, probably because you'd have to type in a long URL.
Keith Kritselis hustled quite a bit on this project, both online and off; you can see this by looking at the content of the updates, and clever Kickstarter hacks like this:
It's also clear that Kritselis's hustling worked: the project was funded. But it would have come up about $1500 short if the hustle hadn't grabbed the attention of one person with a huge preexisting audience. It's not smart to risk the success of your project on being able to find that person (unless you are that person).
Obvious equation and nonobvious corollaries
Your project will succeed if B*Cm>=G. B is the number of backers, Cm is the mean contribution, and G is the amount set as the goal. (British newspapers, feel free to use this section for meaningless filler.) You have control over all three factors. You set G directly, you increase B by hustling, and Cm depends on how you've set up the rewards system.
How big can B possibly get? Here's the number of backers for each successful Month of Kickstarter project:
Obviously this varies widely based on your hustle and the appeal of your project, but realistically you're not going to get more than 350 backers, and 150 is more likely. The project all the way to the right on that graph is The Endangered Alphabets Project, which got a huge amount of press coverage from mainstream sources including the New York Times. That project has 533 backers. If your plan assumes you'll get 1000 backers, your plan is probably wrong.
Because your number of backers is going to be pretty low, you need to make each backer count. That means raising the mean contribution or lowering the goal.
Recall from last time that the mean contribution for a successful MoK project was $76, plus or minus $39. The best solution is to have a product that's worth $50-$100, and to make a $50-$100 tier that is the first one with a really cool reward. This, I think, is why board games do so well on Kickstarter.
If you don't have something that's worth $50, get that tier up as high as you can. Don't undersell your product! It will doom your project! It very nearly doomed the cookie cutter project.
Let me show you what I mean. Here's the data on the pledge levels and how popular they were among the 317 backers of this project:
The $5 is the first pledge level where you get something real in return: one set of the cookie cutters. At $10 you get two sets, and at $20 you get four sets. (The retail price of one set of cutters is given as $12.) These three levels account for 85% of the backers.
These prices are way too low. (Again, I say this knowing that the project was funded--your project might not be so lucky.) To fund this project using only the $5-$10-$20 funding levels, you'd need 550 backers. It needs to be more like $10-$20-$40. This is the part that I don't have data on, but I'm willing to bet that getting someone to spend $10 instead of $5 on your $12 cookie cutters is easy, compared to selling them on your cookie cutters in the first place.
BTW, if you sum up all the backers at the listed pledge levels, you get a total of $5800 raised—two hundred dollars short of the goal. So even with all the hustling and the big last-day influx and everything, the project succeeded because people pledged more money than was strictly necessary to get the corresponding rewards.
In short, the tesselated cookie cutter story is a story of bad incentive design overcome by hard work, generosity, luck, and network effects. But do some work up front and you won't have to rely so much on that stuff. Look at other projects in the same space and see how they succeeded or failed. Look at the tiers they set up, see how many people pledged at each level, see how much money they actually raised and where it came from. A cool video can get people wanting to back your project, but the reward tiers and the goal you set will determine how much money you see.
(6) Mon Sep 26 2011 15:02 Month Of Kickstarter After-Action Report:
Here you see the logo for Crispy Duck Games, one of the fictional studios in my novel Constellation Games (coming soon!). It's the first reward I've gotten out of July's Month of Kickstarter project. (Thanks, Brandon Eck; I didn't tell you anything except the name of the company, but you came up with something funny and appropriate.) Now that all the Kickstarter projects I backed have passed their deadlines, I'm going to take a graph-filled look at how they did, and take a few tiny stabs at guidelines for future projects that use Kickstarter or the Street Performer Protocol more generally.
This is not a random sample of Kickstarter projects. I picked projects I actually wanted to back.
In all, I backed 52 projects for MoK. 31 of them succeeded, 19 failed, and two were canceled. My success rate was 60%, versus 40-45% for Kickstarter projects as a whole.
I think this shows good judgment on my part: I usually backed projects the day they started, and I avoided projects like MC Frontalot's music video that were obviously going to make their goal (or I backed them and didn't count them towards MoK.)
I don't have any information about the canceled projects, but I gathered basic information about the other 50: their funding goal, how much money they actually raised, how many backers they had, and how many updates their founders posted. This information became the graphs you're about to see.
I pledged at least $25 to each project, and more if necessary to get a cool reward, so my total expenditure was at least $725, and probably closer to $900.
This graph shows how much money each project raised. The line is the success line: projects on or above the line met their goals, and projects below the line failed.
Let's zoom in on the projects that failed:
Check that out. Most failed projects raised pretty much nothing. But many raised thousands of dollars but didn't get any of it. If the cheese vat project had asked for $3k instead of $20k, they could have made their goal, and still been able to produce all their prizes. They wouldn't have gotten a new cheese vat, but $3k is better than nothing.
Why do projects fail?
I looked at the failed projects and came up with four classes of failure. These are my subjective opinions about what went wrong with the projects.
- About 30% of failed projects didn't hustle. The project creator put up a project on Kickstarter in the belief that hundreds of people would come by and back their project. Instead, they got me, the guy who looks at every single project despite the fact that Kickstarter really doesn't make it easy to do this. (eg. "50's Monster Movie Serial!")
- Of course, hustling is no guarantee of success. For about 30% of the projects, the project creator hustled, and got money, but not as much as they asked for. They should have used a different rewards system, or assuming they could have delivered the existing rewards with less money, they should have asked for less. (eg. the "Bursts of Light" anthology.)
- About 30% of failed projects clearly had both problems: they didn't hustle and they asked for way too much money. (eg. the Thousand Island dressing documentary).
- About 10% of projects hustled towards a reasonable goal, but didn't make it because the project or the rewards were too niche. I think the best example is the oboe chamber music recital, which offered oboe reeds or oboe lessons at the $25 level.
Not shown: a much larger population of failed projects that I didn't back, which may have failed for other reasons.
What is the hustle?
How can I judge projects based on a vague quantity like "hustle"? I'm using the number of updates posted to the Kickstarter project as a very weak indicator of hustle. Here's a graph of updates versus backers, for all projects.
Kickstarter updates do not cause backers, if only because nobody but existing backers cares about your updates.
But in my dataset, no project with zero updates ever got more than 50 backers. Updates and backers are both signs of this invisible third thing, "hustle". Updates are a good indicator that the project founder is hustling. Many update messages are exhortations to existing backers, asking them to propagate the project through their social networks.
It's quite possible to hustle and fail anyway. But if you don't find yourself writing some updates, it's a sign of a problem with your strategy.
Here's a big difference between successful projects and failed projects. The mean mean contribution to a successful project is $76. That is, dividing the number of contributors by the money raised gives a certain number, and the mean of those numbers is $76. The median mean is $66. The standard deviation of the means is a huge $39, but I don't know if that has any statistical meaning.
(CAUTION: Sumana finds these graphs confusing, because the x-axis doesn't mean anything. It's just all the projects lined up next to each other. But I couldn't think of a better way to present this information.)
The mean mean contribution to a failed project is $43 (the median mean contribution is $38, the standard deviation of the mean a somewhat smaller $23).
I was pretty shocked about this. Even the numbers for failed projects greatly overshadow the $25 I usually kicked in (and still usually kick in). However, for a lot of board game projects, I contributed $40 or $50, because that was how much you had to contribute to get a copy of the game, and all those projects succeeded.
- Start the really good rewards at around $50. (You can go a little lower if you're doing a book.)
- Try to get people who put a lot of money into a few Kickstarter projects, rather than people like me who spread it around.
- If you're not sure how much you can raise, try something in the $1k-$2k range.
- Hustle, dammit.
I'm a little loath to do this because it means a bunch more data entry, but I want to take a closer look at at least one of these projects, to figure out what "hustle" looks like in more detail. There's one MoK project that for me just defines "hustle", a project that reached a really high goal with a mean backer contribution of only $23. I figure that's a good one to investigate more closely. So stay tuned, or not.
Sun Jul 31 2011 21:22 Month of Kickstarter: Grand Finale:
It's the final day of Month of Kickstarter, and time to go out with an astounding QUADRUPLE EDITION. If you know one thing about me now that you didn't know before Month of Kickstarter, it's that I'm a sucker for games with really insane names. Long story short, I've chosen to back "Oh My God! There's An Axe In My Head. The Game of International Diplomacy".
I also like games with non-insane names, and to reflect that side of my personality I've also backed "StarLife - A 4x Turn-Based Space Strategy Indie Game", even though it's not totally certain that there'll be a Linux version.
Finally, in an attempt to seem more cerebral, I'm backing a math project and a classical music project that have been in my list for a while. First, "Relatively Prime: Stories from the Mathematical Domain":
Relatively Prime will be an 8 episode audio podcast featuring stories from the world of mathematics. Tackling questions like: is it true that you are only 7 seven handshakes from the President, what exactly is a micromort, and how did 39 people commenting on a blog manage to prove a deep theorem.
And the music project, "Chopin Revolutionary Etudes":
Even though Chopin set out to create technical works, each etude is a beautiful piece of music and the technique is used ONLY in creating a beautiful piece of music. Some of the greatest melodies of all times are contained in these etudes.
This project will bring out all the unique elements of Chopin's Etudes. But it will also teach a lot about playing and listening to music.
And that's it! In about two months, once all the projects I backed have reached their deadlines, I'll report back with statistics, and once the backer rewards start rolling in I'll mention any especially interesting ones.
Although I won't be backing Kickstarter projects at the frenetic rate that obtained during MoK (what with no longer having a well-paying job), I'll keep looking at projects, backing one occasionally, and posting occasional dumps here on NYCB.
The big announcement is happening tomorrow, for real this time.
(1) Sat Jul 30 2011 19:55 Month of Kickstarter: Chocolate Alphabet:
Welcome to the PENULTIMATE, TRIPLE EDITION of Month of Kickstarter. Let's start the day off right with "The Art of Chocistry", a "virtual gourmet chocolate studio". Don't worry, only the studio is virtual. There's real chocolate.
Next, it's "COOP-made-in-USA book":
This book is an introduction to the worker-owned cooperatives in the United States, a reality that is not very well known, but prospered for more than 30 years.
The book presents several examples of worker-owned co-ops, with different governance methods and active in different fields, from retail to high-tech, with even nude dancing...
"Nude dancing" I could understand, but I'm not sure about "nude dancing...".
And finally, "The Endangered Alphabets Project" brings together the previously disparate worlds of wood carving and linguistic diversity:
The world has between 6,000 and 7,000 languages, but as many as half of them will be extinct by the end of this century. Another and even more dramatic way in which this cultural diversity is shrinking concerns the alphabets in which those languages are written. Writing has become so dominated by a small number of global cultures that those 6,000-7,000 languages are written in fewer than 100 alphabets.
Fri Jul 29 2011 08:54 Month of Kickstarter: Fealty:
Well, that's not a very fun Month of Kickstarter entry title. But not much can be done, because I've backed only one project today and it's got a one-word name: Fealty, a "territory control game that plays in a short amount of time but packs a solid strategic punch and game to game variety."
(2) Thu Jul 28 2011 09:11 Month of Kickstarter: Two Scoops:
In today's "gift that keeps on giving" edition, I've backed "Jane's Easy Serve Ergonomic Ice Cream Scoop" at the $50 level. This will net me two commercial-quality ergonomic ice cream scoops. I can give one each to Susanna and Rachel, and hopefully stop the family feud over who gets ownership of the heirloom ice cream scoop (last known photo).
Wed Jul 27 2011 20:50 Month of Kickstarter: Humble Dinosaurs:
In a non-Kickstarter shocker, I dropped $25 on the Humble Indie Bundle #3. I haven't played it a lot due to busyness (can't even get a couple of the games to run on Linux), but I will say that VVVVVV is the game that Jet Set Willy should have been.
You've seen how on Month of Kickstarter I've made the tough decisions. You trust me to only back the projects that are right for America. The projects you hope you would back if you had the guts to take on crazy challenges like this one. That's why I've made the call to back the paper RPG "Dinosaurs...in SPAAACE!". Now with game mechanics!
Dinosaurs...in SPAAACE! runs on the Token Effort engine, a tried and tested rules-set that privileges pratfalls over point-stacking and mania over min-maxing. It quantifies humor and rewards you whether people are laughing with you, or at you.
(3) Tue Jul 26 2011 18:58 Month of Kickstarter: Picture Pants:
I love pictures of things from the 1980s, and "London in the 1980s" definitely fits the bill. I think there's something about the film stock from the decade you grew up in that acts as a delivery system for nostalgia.
I also like wearing pants that fit, or at least I imagine I would, if that ever happened, so I dropped a Month of Kickstarter-record $60 on "Custom Fit Jeans". It feels less like backing a Kickstarter project and more like buying a pricey pair of jeans, but at this point Month of Kickstarter is on drunken, careening autopilot as I try to finish up my Findings work and gear up for the work surrounding the big announcement (still forthcoming).
Mon Jul 25 2011 15:43 Month of Kickstarter: Broken Puppets:
It's time once again for Backscratching Monday, where I back the Kickstarter projects of my friends with some scratch. See? Back... scratch... moving on!
I got the idea for Backscratching Monday when I discovered that my friend Gus had put up a Kickstarter project for her Internet-literacy puppet show "The Media Show". Here it is: "The Media Show Explains Search, SEO, and Sock Puppets". It's funny because they're literally sock puppets! Man, I'm batting zero here.
Due to a shortage of Mondays, Month of Kickstarter will feature no more Backscratching Mondays. But feel free to start a Kickstarter project anyway and I'll see what I can do.
Keep it moving. In non-backscratching news, I backed a print run of small-press science fiction/superhero novel, "Broken".
In a post-war future world where First Contact has been made, humans are colonizing the stars, and the nations of Earth have been united under a central government, Extrahumans are required by law to belong to the Union. When a young man with visions of the future sets out on a mission to define the course of human history, he encounters a devastated former hero, a fascist dictatorship bent on world domination, and the realities of living in a society where affiliation is everything.
Sun Jul 24 2011 18:17 Month of Kickstarter: Music!:
Not in a mood to do clever writeups, so I did three music projects today, because those generally speak for themselves. First, Jazz in Africa "The Root of Jazz Expression".
In recent years, I have traveled through various parts of West Africa and had the opportunity to interact and share music with people from different local communities. It was an incredible experience: I had the good fortune to collaborate and perform with many accomplished, local musicians. One finding that permeated all these different impressions was the realization that the ‘Spirit of Blues’ expression is the ‘language’ link between Jazz and African music.
And there's also blue period project:
Classical music is in a bad way. Audiences are shrinking and aging. Orchestras are declaring bankruptcy... We staunchly believe that music is not the problem – rather, that audiences have lost interest in the experience: asocial seating, distant stages, disconnected performers and patrons, a stiff atmosphere. Dissatisfied with the fashion and spaces in which most classical music is presented, we want to experiment with new ideas.
Finally, I backed Jeff Brooks Quartet, "Just In Time":
I am completing my second original jazz album, “Just In Time” for the Jeff Brooks Quartet. The compositions are eclectic, ranging from depression era, blues, standard sounding jazz, to Iranian influenced beats.
Sat Jul 23 2011 16:18 Month of Kickstarter: Cheese Plant:
It's too hot to write interesting descriptions, but Month of Kickstarter chugs along. First it's "Cheese Vat Community Support Agriculture".
We are working to acquire a new cheese vat to replace the old "gas guzzler" with one that is energy efficient, and that will help us to make even better cheese, to ensure the continued success of a small local, sustainable agricultural, sixth generation, grass based farm.
Unfortunately, my idea that they should allow high-value Kickstarter donors to take surreptitious dips in the cheese vat was rejected.
Next it's the Field Guide to Phytoremediation:
In 2010, youarethecity created the Field Guide to Phytoremediation, a DIY handbook to cleaning up toxic soils in your own backyard, neighborhood vacant lot, or other urban space. Working with soil scientists, urban farming activists, community groups, and others interested on (and in) the ground, we have expanded this research.
Fri Jul 22 2011 07:04 Month of Kickstarter: Oboe Logo:
Jennifer Ownby's "Oboe Chamber Music Recital" knows how to get me where I live: by appealing to the downtrodden, living-on-the-fringes-of-society lot of oboe players. I played the oboe in middle school band, because I was determined to announce to the world that I was a misfit, and I still have a soft spot for the instrument, especially when it's played by someone better at it than me. Anyway, enough about me, how about we let a real oboist speak:
My program consists of some lesser-known and underperformed, but still very good, solo and chamber works for oboe and various instruments. I'm starting off with Gilles Silvestrini's Six Études pour Hautbois, which is a lovely piece based on six different Impressionist paintings. I'm also doing a fun piece for English horn and Actress by Christopher Berg, called Why Else Do You Have an English Horn? The program will also include the Prokofiev Quintet, Op. 39, for violin, viola, bass, oboe, and clarinet. I've seriously wanted to perform this for about 10 years but haven't known the personnel willing to do it. Then I'll be finishing up with Omaggio a Bellini by Antonino Pasculli, for English horn and Harp.
Today's second project is "The Let's Make a Bunch of (Company/Product) Logos Project".
As a designer, I love making logos. So, I thought it would be fun, and challenging, to do a project with the straightforward concept of creating a whole bunch of different logos for a whole bunch of different companies and products. That's it.
Thu Jul 21 2011 12:04 Month of Kickstarter: Hot Love:
The big non-MoK announcement has been delayed, so in the meantime enjoy some more Kickstarter projects. First, it's "Sizzle Sauce - The Savory Hot Sauce!". Longtime readers will know that I'm a sucker for a sauce that "doesn't sacrifice flavor for heat." It is a tomato-based hot sauce, which I'm not generally a huge fan of, but I'm keeping an open mind.
Second, it's "We Promote Knowledge & Love - Parade Day in Harlem":
We Promote Knowledge & Love is a social practice, community art performance project that borrows the aggressive street advertising tactics of pawnbrokers in urban communities as a vehicle to promote knowledge, self-empowerment, and love rather than commerce or monetary wealth.
Wed Jul 20 2011 07:05 Month of Kickstarter: Kombucha & Dragons:
Here's one for Sumana: Kombucha Party. At least I intended it to be for Sumana. Only after I backed this project did I realize that "kombucha" isn't the name of the tea Sumana likes; that's hojicha. Kombucha is the tea-based drink they sell at Whole Foods. Fortunately, I signed up to get loose-leaf tea, not liters of kombucha delivered to my door, so it should work out.
Fortunately, Dragon Valley won't turn out to be something totally different from what I think it is: a line of organic dairy products made from dragon's milk. It's a board game, you say? Damn! Well, I like board games too. Dragon's Valley has some interesting features, like bringing in mechanics from cooperative board games (pulling useful things out of a pile and sharing them) without being a cooperative game.
Has someone made a bootleg RSS feed of new Kickstarter projects? I find it hard to believe that there's no official one, but I find it even harder to locate an official one. Going to the "recently launched" page every day is fine for Month of Kickstarter, but I don't want to keep doing that, and I don't see any other way to look at all the projects.
Big non-MoK announcement today!
Tue Jul 19 2011 07:19 Month of Kickstarter: Heartbreak & Entrepreneurship:
Really good crop today, and that means my day is off to a good start.
First, "Heartbreak & Heroines RPG":
Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures -- saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It's a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.
You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She's experienced some loss so great that she's taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society -- by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.
When a woman picks up her tome, you know it's serious. The game system is based on one of the author's previous RPGs, Wandering Monsters High School (free download).
Today's second project is Entrepreneurship Exposed:
What does it take to start a company? Volumes of books exist that explore the workings of entrepreneurship, but no one has created a documentary that follows the entire creative process of conceiving an idea and developing it into a product.
Meta bonus: the product is a product about entrepreneurship.
Mon Jul 18 2011 06:45 Month of Kickstarter: In Praise of Turtles:
Dipping into my big list of bookmarked projects, since none of the new projects I saw this morning were as cool as stuff I'd earlier saved for later, later being now.
First off, it's "In Praise of Small Things: A Letterpress Adventure", a modest project to commemorate "the small, everyday 'unfancy' things and moments that we so often forget to pay attention to, but when we do, they glimmer."
And on the expensive side of the spectrum, there's Turtle Derby Documentary, raising funds for post-production.
Every July 4th for the past 50 years our small hometown in Pennsylvania has held an annual turtle race – a fun event that sounds like something from a Mark Twain story. But this year the state outlawed collecting turtles from the wild because they’re becoming endangered. It’s a fun and funny opportunity to see what happens when tradition and environmental issues collide.
I think I know which Mark Twain story you're talking about!
Sun Jul 17 2011 07:22 Month of Kickstarter: Milk Asteroids:
Rock Hunter. Studly, closeted film star? No, it's a first-person Asteroids-type game to be made available under the AGPL.
Several weapon types are planned, and rocks will be dynamically simulated so that they can be cut apart, fragmented, and otherwise destroyed in unique ways every time.
In the second half of Month of Kickstarter I'm experimenting with backing two projects a day, since the success rate seems to be less than 50%. Today's second project is Milk Not Jails.
Rural New York is home to 90% of the state’s prisons, which provide jobs in a depressed rural economy. Meanwhile the majority of people in prison come from New York City’s communities of color and their families are forced to make long trips to visit them. The guards union and their elected officials oppose major reforms to the prison system because they fear it will destroy jobs in their community. As a result, New York’s prison system is racist, ineffective, and too expensive. This is not going to change unless we can develop a new economic relationship between urban and rural areas. MILK NOT JAILS looks to the state’s dairy industry – which comprises 80% of New York’s agricultural sales – for a delicious solution to this conundrum.
Sat Jul 16 2011 07:09 Month of Kickstarter: Sun Text:
Month of Kickstarter is halfway over! I've backed 19 projects (21 by the time this entry is done) and it's time to check back in on their progress.
- Two of the projects I've backed have been funded (OpenPhoto and WWJD).
- Three of them are very close to their goals. If this metaproject has gotten you interested in Kickstarter, and you want to start off by feeling the rush you get from pushing a project over the edge, try backing the computer history zine, The Power of the Crystals, or the Lyssan board game.
- Four of them are chugging along. I'm not going to put up a bunch more links even though that would be the smart thing to do, because this entry is already more weblog than I planned to write today. Just go to my Kickstarter page and scroll down.
- Ten of them seem to have stalled. I will link again to the tessellated cookie cutters because I really want that one to succeed.
So I'm looking at about a 1/3 success rate, which is pretty good given that I've avoided big, obviously-gonna-succeed projects like M.C. Frontalot's music video.
OK, with that navel-gazing out of the way, let's check out today's Projects of Month of Kickstarter! First we have "Open Source Programmer's Text Editor using Canvas and WebGL".
This will be a fully featured text editor implemented using the canvas element in HTML5. It will support WebGL for graphics acceleration for visually pleasing but uncluttered scrolling, anti-aliasing and other effects. This is designed not for the wow factor but to minimize visual irritation when working with text for long periods of time.
Second, it's SCI-ARC/Caltech's entry in the Solar Decathlon, "a U.S. Department of Energy Sponsored competition which challenges 20 architecture and engineering schools from around the world to design and build a solar-powered, 'net-zero' house." Bonus: the house looks like your robot pet from the future.
Fri Jul 15 2011 07:18 Month of Kickstarter: Foundry Objects:
I took most of the week off work because Rachel was visiting, but now she's back in England and here I am helping "Double the size of the Columbus Idea Foundry!" before heading off to work.
On August 15th, we will have the opportunity to expand into our neighboring industrial unit (with which we already share several interior doors... an architectural match made in heaven!) By doing so, we will be able to split our workshop into a "dirty" space (our current location) with welding, woodworking, metal casting, metal fabrication, CNC machining, and other dust- and chip-making processes; and a "clean" space (the new wing) with, among other planned resources, a photographic dark room, a videography stage, a textile/upholstery station, a proper lithography room for etching/engraving circuits, metal, and screenprinting masks, and about a dozen more studio rental spaces for clean arts.
Bonus fact: according to this same Kickstarter entry, Columbus, Ohio is "the Indie Arts Capital of the World, as declared by the Columbus City Council..." [ellipsis in original]
Thu Jul 14 2011 09:50 Month of Kickstarter: Wind:
"Open Source Vertical Wind Turbine"
The intended outcome of this project is to develop a small wind turbine that can be built for cheap, and that can be used with more wind turbines to marginally increase electricity output. Some of the parts in this project are still conceptual and have not been built before.
Is that good or bad? Either way, it's a 3D-printed wind turbine, which is hard for me to pass up.
Wed Jul 13 2011 08:31 Month of Kickstarter: The Astoria Project:
First off, Sumana sent me a link to Kitt Hodsden's "Why I'll pledge to your Kickstarter project", which I basically agree with. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a realistic funding goal! You may only be able to raise enough money for part of your project! It's called Kickstarter, not Completethewholeprojecter.
Now it's time to indulge in another high-stakes metagame of backing a board-game project for $50 because my usual $25 MoK donation won't get me a copy of the game. Today it's "The Manhattan Project - Board Game", "a low-luck, mostly open information efficiency game in which players compete to build and operate the most effective atomic bomb program." It could be a double feature with Twilight Struggle, or Power Grid, or I'll never get enough people in one place long enough to play this game plus any other game so why bother.
Does it take me into "You may end your turn early!" territory to find this really interesting?:
The game features worker placement with a twist; There are no rounds and no end-of-round administration. Players retrieve their workers when they choose to or are forced to (by running out).
If so, I've come full circle.
Wednesday Bonus! "Bring a great computer history zine back to a new audience!" It's a project to re-release a historical computing zine that is, by this time, itself historical. You know you want to BACK it.
Tue Jul 12 2011 07:46 Month of Kickstarter: Cloud Computing:
Time is running out for "OpenPhoto, a photo service for your S3 or Dropbox account", so I gave it the ol' BACKED treatment. It's "a way to share your photos with others while retaining complete ownership of them."
Mon Jul 11 2011 09:00 Month of Kickstarter: Abandoned:
Today it's "Documenting the Midwest Through Analog Photography". Specifically the parts of the Midwest that are abandoned buildings.
Each building is an individual battle within a war that most people fail to see. When I see a derelict building, I see a war that hardly anyone else can see in the same way. I want to preserve these images of this war between Man and Nature that, though slow, remains in constant flux.
I see a lot of projects where it doesn't look like you can fund the entire project through Kickstarter. Unless you have a preexisting fan base or are very good at marketing through non-Kickstarter media, it's tough to raise the ten or twenty thousand dollars you need to record an album or make a short film. But you can probably get ten percent of that to edit the film once it's done, or press the CDs once the album's recorded. This is kind of disappointing and getting more people investing in Kickstarter projects won't solve the problem, since that will also cause more people to post projects on Kickstarter.
Anyway, the point of this digression is that this photography project only needs $800, which I think is very doable.
Sun Jul 10 2011 08:18 Month of Kickstarter: Recreating Fake Things:
You know I love it. "50's Monster Movie Serial!"
"[W]hat's it about? Rubber monster suit, women in 1950's bikini's, and the mother of all cliff-hangers."
Ultra bonus: Evan has started his own Month of Kickstarter!
Sat Jul 09 2011 07:42 Month of Kickstarter: Birthday Backlog Blowout:
It's time for another TRIPLE EDITION of Month of Kickstarter. On my birthday I'm backing three projects specifically recommended by friends.
- My cousin Camilla recommended "WWJD", a film of a play, being produced by a friend of hers.
WWJD is a feature film following a college student named Tom and his three roommates over the course of one memorable day when they receive a visit from an unexpected houseguest--Jesus. He washes their dishes and goes skateboarding and miniature golfing with them--but for some reason, Tom, the only believer in the house, can't see him.
In other nepotism news, Camilla has an Etsy shop where she sells jewelry and reproduction medieval clothing. Check it out!
- Pat said I should back "The Power of the Crystals", "NYC's premiere motivational seminar/rock opera". Sumana, who I just showed it to, agrees! So... I backed the project.
- Also from Pat, it's "Raiding Parties", "a card game that takes place in the Golden Age." The Golden Age of what, you ask? The answer is PIRATES.
Non-bonus bonus!: Here are a couple projects I backed prior to beginning Month of Kickstarter, which I'm worried aren't going to make it, so I'm publicising them here.
- "Chocolate! Handmade from bean to bar", which only has about a day to go.
We are a small bean to bar chocolate making company that believes chocolate making is not only a craft, but also an art. We plan to draw from a pool of artists on a rotating basis to design custom packaging featuring their artwork. In addition, we will collaborate with artists who will create unique molds that will allow us to make one of a kind edible sculptures.
We're talking chocolate Space Invaders here.
- "Project Gado: An Open-Source Photo Digitization Robot", which scans old photos quickly without damaging them.
The Gado 1 is in operation at the archives of the Baltimore Afro American Newspaper, where it has already scanned nearly 1000 historical images. The paper has a collection of over 1.5 million images spanning 115 years, though, so there's still a long way to go!
(2) Fri Jul 08 2011 07:10 Month of Kickstarter: Tess Tess Tess Tessellations:
"Cookie Connections__Clever Cookie Cutters Cut Clever Cookies". You, sir, are a mouthful! As are the cookies, one hopes. For you see, this project is tessellation cookie cutters! It took me a few minutes of staring at the 3D models to see all the shapes, but yes, there's four stereotypical Christmas cookie shapes coming out of a single cutter, with no waste. (Halloween-themed shapes also being produced.) For reasons I hope are obvious (TESSELLATIONS) I am super excited about this one.
Thu Jul 07 2011 06:54 Month of Kickstarter: Think Positive:
Today's project: "Bursts of Light: an Anthology of Positive Speculative Fiction". Because I have a vested interest in making Kickstarter a good place to raise money for an anthology you're putting out.
Wed Jul 06 2011 06:55 Month of Kickstarter: Decisions, Decisions:
I'm seriously on the fence about "Strange Attractors: Investigations in Non-Humanoid Extraterrestrial Sexualities". When I saw the description I thought: BACKED. But, I was picturing a monograph with an underlying thesis and a consistent medical-diagram-ish art style, and this is an anthology with often cartoony art and big ol' artist statements (and humanoid extraterrestrials, judging from the sample pages!). Plus it's another project where I'd need to shell out $50 to get the book. So I dunno. It's definitely on my short list though.
This sculpture also looks cool, but Month of Kickstarter has a strict "no Burning Man" policy.
And so on. A couple more projects today went on my list for a future slow day or multi-project bonanza day, but today's backed project is a project to reissue John Isaacson's Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting. "Whether you want to turn your bedroom into a t-shirt factory or just make a couple stickers or posters for your band's next tour, Isaacson has got your back."
(1) Tue Jul 05 2011 07:52 Month of Kickstarter: A Young Lady's Guide to Treachery and Military Operations:
I've got a lot to do today (all the Findings work that explains why I haven't posted much, plus bonus other work), so this one is quick: Lyssan, a board game that "combines tightly designed euro-style rules with the interactivity and flavor of an epic wargame." It looks fun and well thought out, so BACKED. The $50 price point to get a copy of the game is higher than the $25 I'm typically dropping on Month of Kickstarter projects, but what the heck. Some of those projects won't pan out, and it looks like this one will.
(1) Mon Jul 04 2011 07:49 Month of Kickstarter: Patriotism Edition:
When I was a kid I heard someone say "America has brought the world two great art forms: jazz and comics." I've long thought it's time to add "video games" to that list, and on today's TRIPLE EDITION of Month of Kickstarter I salute all three of these great art forms.
Jazz: "Recording original songs in the spirit of a 1940's Big Band". Check out that period dress! This is a man I trust to do a historical recreation.
Comics: Narbonic: The Perfect Collection. This project already reached its goal, so it feels kind of cheap, but I'm a huge Narbonic fan.
Video games: "The Videogame History Museum", "dedicated to preserving, archiving, and documenting the history of the videogame industry." These people have a lot of stuff and they want a place to put it. What could be more American?
Damn, that's patriotic. Even Sam the American Eagle can't say no.
Sun Jul 03 2011 10:19 Month of Kickstarter: Thousand Island:
Today's project is "Uncovering the Mysterious Origin of 1000 Island Dressing", a documentary that tries to resolve the dispute about whose idea it was to mix ketchup and mayonnaise and call it salad dressing. I backed it because it reminds me of the "Compression" episode of the BBS Documentary. Ancient disputes may seem trivial now, but picking at them blows the lid off the septic tank we call the past.
I don't have a good feel for which Kickstarter projects are likely to succeed, but I gotta say that because of the amount of money they're trying to raise ($23,500), this one seems like a long shot. I don't see how it works unless a few backers decide to theme a vacation around the high-value pledge rewards.
Now, one of the nice things about Kickstarter is that you can back a long shot without worrying about losing your money. But I would like to spend a decent amount of money during the Month of Kickstarter, which means backing successful projects. And I'd like to do it without funding a bunch of projects that are clearly going to be funded anyway. I may end up compromising by diversifying my portfolio.
Sat Jul 02 2011 16:40 Month of Kickstarter: The Backfilling:
My calendar informs me that I should have started this project yesterday. No problem! I've brought Month of Kickstarter up to date by also backing the Kikori Open Source CNC Gantry Router, which pushes my buttons with sentences like "It’s essentially a robot capable of milling complex three-dimensional shapes out of wood, soft metals, and plastics." It's also self-replication-capable!
(2) Sat Jul 02 2011 15:59 July: Month of Kickstarter:
Back in the late 90s I had a running joke on this website that July was "Leonard Richardson Month", a month of festivals and educational lectures about me and my accomplishments, which (this is still part of the joke, not my 2011-era commentary) nobody attended because the whole idea was egotistical and stupid. Even with something as corny as that, though, I discovered that thinking of the month of my birthday as being special actually did make it a better month.
This year I'm bringing back the "special month" idea, but instead of an obsessive focus on me, the focus will be on other people and the cool things they're doing. Every day this month I will pledge money towards a Kickstarter project and post about it here.
I'll try to pick projects you'll find interesting because I really like the Kickstarter model and my goal is to get you into the idea of funding things that way as well. If nothing really grabs me on a given day, I'll make an investment more or less at random. Because it's July, mamajama, and weird things happen on this site in July.
Today's project is a local one for me: I pledged $25 to cover the production rental costs for "An Economic Cycle Through An Artist’s Perspective", a dance performance to be held in the Socrates Sculpture Park (where I went just today to check out the new farmer's market).
This may seem an odd choice for me. You don't have to know me very well to guess that I am not into dance. I don't know enough about the medium to appreciate it, although I do find the description of this performance ("each segment will represent a milestone that one would experience throughout the development of an idea") a lot more interesting than the typical dance performance description. But, I am really into living in a neighborhood and a city where people who are into dance go around giving and attending dance performances, because that means other people have fun and it enriches the city as a whole. So, this sucker is backed.
Tune in tomorrow for more action! This will also get me back to posting every day, which is something I've really been missing.
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