kickstarter

Postcard #3 from "Our Longest Drive"

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Received a postcard from "Our Longest Drive". I'm tickled by these postcards, it's always nice to receive mail.



This resort must be a fairyland in winter, but summer isn't bad. Played golf. Stayed two nights. Now in camper with mosquitos and grizzlies at the front door. Vic.

Why I'll pledge to your Kickstarter project

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Yeah, I'm a fan of Kickstarter. As of this post, I've backed over a hundred projects, each of those for more than a $1 (a reference which is a rant for another time). It's a bit addictive, being able to help people on their way to achieving change, realizing their dreams, or making a difference.

This recent Kickstarer addiction seriously kicked in after I talked to Nick Disabato at SxSW this past March. I asked him how he chose which projects to back. Fundamentally, he said, he backed the ones that interested him, related to his hobbies, or just entertained him.

Works for me, and I started backing projects in earnest.

I now watch the Recently Launched page frequently, daily when possible, but semiweekly at the least. I do that so that I don't miss any cool upcoming projects, but it also means that I receive a frequent number of "How did you hear about my project?" messages. While I'm usually hesitant to be the first backer, I've made exceptions, but they are very much the exception.

So, how would you make a project a successfully fundable Kickstarter project, from a backer's perspective? What projects catch my attention? There are other "how to create a successful Kickstarter campaign" posts, and Kickstarter has a good starter guide on making a good project video (though, honestly, I rarely watch the videos, preferring the text description), but why would I back a project?

From my perspective, I'm more likely to back your project if you can:

1. Be one of my interests

Not much you can do about this one other than be in my interests.

I tend to back projects related to farming, recycling/consumerism, bees, books, design, technology, environment and distilleries. There are exceptions to this, humourous or whimsical in particular, but I (and everyone else I can think of) am far more likely to back a project that sounds like something I'd do or like to do, than one that is completely unrelated to my interests.

For the most part, I stay away from movie, album, food truck and Burning Man projects. There are exceptions (always exceptions), but I find these less tangible unless they relate to something that amuses me.

I also stay away from projects that seem to be duplicates of others: there are a lot of Open Source CNC projects.

If you're not passionate about what I'm passionate, that's okay. Find someone who is.

2. Have a catchy title and opener

Since I watch the Recently Launched page, the project title and one sentence description are what catch my attention. It's all about the elevator pitch these days, in the short-attention-span economy, and this isn't much different.

If I'm unsure from the small blurb, I'll star/follow the project without backing it. I review that list every day or so and decide to back or remove from my list when I'm inclined to do so, usually when the campaign is within two days of ending.

3. Explain where the funds are going

A good description helps, but a general explanation of where the funds are going is going to convince me more easily to back your project. The description doesn't have to be detailed down to the last penny, but having a general idea what you're going to do with the funds will make me more likely to back.

4. Kickstart the project, don't reimburse

I'm less likely to back reimbursement projects. If the work is already done, you've already achieved your dreams, so I'm not really helping you at that point.

5. Market beyond Kickstarter

Relying on Kickstarter to do all your marketing, and hoping that you'll make the front page or the projects we like, well, isn't going to cut it if that's your only plan. Use Twitter and *groan* Facebook and your local D&D club. Go outside of your family and friends: try a meet up, post a flier or two at your local Starbucks, ping other online groups that you participate in and see if there's any interest. Going outside Kickstarter means that you're expanding the pool of Kickstarter backers when they pledge to your project, and that's great for not only your project, but every other Kickstarter project.

6. Post a lot of updates

You're trying to encourage people you don't know to send you money. You need to show that you are going keep all of us backers up to date, that you're going to communicate with us.

Of course, the updates should be relevant. And, of course, the updates mean you're making progress on your projects, and that's what we want to know about!

7. Have open updates

Until you've funded, don't have closed updates, for backers only. This makes me me sad, I don't know what's going on with this project:

The secrecy makes me less interested in the project.

8. Have an attainable funding goal

This also means, have a reasonable funding goal.

People tend to compare projects with other projects. If your funding goal is $50,000 and your project is similar to another project with a funding goal of $20,000, but you don't explain why you need two and a half times the funding, I'm going to be confused why your project needs more funding. Of course, if you explained where the funding is going, the amount matters less.

Some goals are crazy. Some goals are too low. If the project interests me, I'm not going to skip your project because I think the goal is unreasonable, but I will be sad if I back your project and it doesn't fund because you were shooting for the stars when you only needed to land on the moon.

9. Have non-physical rewards

I have too much stuff. I don't need more stuff. I'm trying to get rid of much of my unused stuff. I'm likely to pledge to support your project and select no reward if the rewards offered are all things that are just going to be more stuff. Not receiving a reward is fine, but the rewards are often WAY FUN!

Offer a digital download. Put my name and link on your website (without a nofollow in the link). Send me a postcard (which I will most likely photograph, post here, and recycle). Give me access to a frequently updated blog detailing progress of your project. Take a picture of you and your project in the setting of my choice, and let me post it on my site.

There are non-tangible rewards that are just as much fun without a physical reward needing to be sent.

10. Try again

I've backed a couple projects that are a second funding attempt for a project. If a project doesn't fund the first time, try again. Chances are awareness of a project wasn't broad enough to find an audience the first time through. The first project could create exposure, and the second attemped could fund.

Yeah, so those are my pointers, what I'm looking for in a Kickstarter project, how I choose to fund or not. I find backing projects on Kickstarter satisfying in a "give a hand up, not a hand out" way.

It makes me happy, in a selfish sort of way, to help others help themselves.

* I hesitate to be the first backer because when there is only one backer, you can see how much money the person backed with. The post will read "1 backer $X.00 pledged of $Y goal" and that makes me uncomfortable. I'm okay with the project knowing the amount I've backed with, but that's not anyone else's business. I prefer the anonymous side of backing, or close enough to it to be hidden in a crowd.

Backed "OpenPhoto, a photo service for your S3 or Dropbox account"

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I backed the OpenPhoto project today on Kickstarter.

I'm a HUGE fan of "own your own data," which limits how much I share and how broadly I post. While I'm excited about others commenting here on my blog, I often hesitate to post elsewhere, as I don't have a way to archive much of it back here on my site. I prefer to manage my own photo albums locally instead of Flickr, I'd prefer my own videos instead of Vimeo but haven't managed that one quite yet, I prefer my own email over my Yahoo! account or GMail account (or @mac.com aaccount or whatever else email account I have whereever I've left them). While I archive my tweets, I haven't integrated them locally yet. The lack of keeping my own data is one of the reasons I dropped Facebook. At least Google has the Data Liberation movement.

So, this project? This project is awesome in two ways: Jaisen is working out of the Dojo, and it's all about owning your own data. This excites me beyond belief.

And if it has a decent API where I can post from my phone or command line, well, then, hot damn!

Backed "olloclip: iPhone 4 quick change camera lens system"

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I backed the olloclip: iPhone 4 quick change camera lens system project on Kickstarter today. It's a lens for an iphone, which is pretty cool, if it works. We'll see.


The olloclip is a quick-connect lens solution for the iPhone 4 that includes a fisheye, wide-angle and macro lenses in one small, convenient package that easily fits in your pocket. Nestled in the palm of your hand, the olloclip connects to the iPhone within 2 seconds so you’ll be sure to capture the image you want…if you don’t see the picture you’re looking for just flip it over to switch the lens.

The fisheye creates about a 180 Degree field-of-view while the wide-angle is around double the normal view and the macro up to 10X. If you’re looking for that special macro shot, just unscrew the top of the wide-angle lens to reveal the macro lens underneath. Sure, there are apps available that will apply a fisheye “look” or vignette to an image, but it’s impossible to increase the field of view of the original image with any app…what you see is what you get, and we’re confident that once you see what a real fisheye lens can do you will be amazed.

Close, but not quite

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Last night, at SuperHappyDevHouse at Hacker Dojo, I received an email through my contact page (hey, you, too, should contact me, send me a note):

Now, I've been backing a number of Kickstarter projects, yes. I have even received a number of emails sent directly to me from Kickstarter projects, asking me to consider their projects. The first time this happened, I thought, wow, that was smart, I'll reward that smart by backing his project. The second time it happened, I realized what was happening and thought, uh oh, crap, this is like the non-profits that spam the crap out of the people who donate to them, begging for more money.

I didn't support the second project which contacted me. I probably won't support any subsequent ones, either, unless I would have normally supported it.

So, last night's message wasn't surprising to me. While Domino is an odd name to be from Sweden, I could believe that. I have backed over 40 projects, so yeah, he knew to check Kickstarter, and had the numbers correct, so there was a person behind the email. There is something odd about people who back multiple projects, and curiosity was getting the better of me about why other people back more than one project (though, really, I'd love to see the distribution of backers to projects and how it changes over time, if you can see that "oooooooo! this is fun!" moment when Kickstarter becomes addictive to some (read: me)), and thought, hey, I could ask Domino as many questions as he asks me, but after his interview.

This could be cool.

Yet, there's always a hesitation, as there will be for anyone who knows just how fragile systems can be. When he asked me to contact him via Skype, alarms started going off in my head.

Why?

From PCMag http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385044,00.asp:

The Skype client for Apple Mac computers has a zero-day vulnerability that allows an attacker to gain remote control of a victim's Mac, according to a security researcher.

Skype was alerted to the vulnerability about a month ago but has yet to issue a fix, Gordon Maddern reported Friday on the Pure Hacking blog.

...

After accidently [sic] discovering the vulnerability in a Skype chat with a colleague, Maddern said he successfully tested the "extremely wormable and dangerous" exploit on more Macs but found that Skype's Windows and Linux clients were not affected.

The security researcher then used penetration testing tools and was able to remotely take over a Mac through the Skype vulnerability, he said.

...

Skype Limited, the developer of the VoIP software, is based in Luxembourg. The company was founded in 2003 and released the first public beta version of Skype that same year. Skype accounted for 13 percent of all international call minutes in 2010, according to TeleGeography Research.

Riiiiiiiight.

And this?

The email address did not match one normally found in Sweden, but, yeah, you know, people move, right?

Yeah.

No.

The odd catch is that the contact form was submitted using an IP address from Sweden. Lends some credibility, though.

Domino, if you really are who you say you are, contact me via Kickstarter or send me a valid email address.

The Skype thing? Not going to happen.

Backed "Our Longest Drive"

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I backed Our Longest Drive on Kickstarter today. It's a film about four friends taking a road trip to the Arctic Circle to play a game of golf:

Two friends and I, all recently retired, want to make a documentary about a road trip we're taking this June from Chicago to Inuvik, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Our drive will cover seven US states, two Canadian provinces and two territories - about 5500 miles by RV. At the end of the 16-day journey, we plan to tee up at midnight of the summer solstice on a three-hole course called Road's End that's been cut out of the tundra. The never-ending light in the Arctic is a metaphor for life ever after.

We three buddies will be joined on this journey of self-discovery by another member of our regular Saturday morning foursome - a recently departed man named Mike, who will travel as ashes in an urn. A sufferer of juvenile diabetes, Mike outlived his expectancy by at least 15 years. He lived the last 15 years on the edge. He would have loved a trip like this.

This is an odd backing for me, I don't really like to back films or documentaries, but, well, this one somewhat called to me, with the friends and the road trip and the just doing it. The Canada angle is also appealing. I'm excited about the postcards arriving, too. I'll find out on May 28th if it funds.

Update: Funded!

Backed "Radiation Detection Hardware Network in Japan"

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I backed RDTN.org: Radiation Detection Hardware Network in Japan on Kickstarter today. It's a project that plans to install sensors in Japan to monitor radiation after the earthquake. The data from the sensors will be released under a CC license, which is awesome. Having an open, community run data gathering project prevents censorship of the data or other manipulation by governments whose concern may be more for its powerbase than the well-being of its constituents.

Safecast.org (formerly RDTN.org) is a website whose purpose is to provide an aggregate feed of nuclear radiation data from governmental, non-governmental and citizen-scientist sources. That data will be made available to everyone, including scientists and nuclear experts who can provide context for lay people. In the weeks following launch, it has become evident that there is a need for additional radiation reporting from the ground in Japan. This Kickstarter project will help us purchase up to 600 Geiger Counter devices that will be deployed to Japan. (The project minimum will fund about 100 devices). The data captured from these devices will feed into our website and will also be made available for others to use via Pachube, an open-source platform for monitoring sensor data globally. Our field members will be trained by ouradvisors to properly use these devices. The field members will be required to report to the website 8-10 times per day.

Open-Source Underpinnings:

We will make the raw data available from our network for anyone to use under Creative Commons 0 dedication. It is our goal that providing this data to non-profit organizations, governments and scientists will keep people and societies more informed in the current crisis as well as future incidents where data might otherwise be scarce.



Update: FUNDED! on 5/7

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