After doing some initial investigation into the sites we chose to analyze (Kickstarter, CofundOS, Rockethub, and Quirky), some important themes in crowdfunding have started to emerge. There are some basic problems that site administrators have to deal with when trying to create a platform for non-traditional start-up funding, many of which resemble issues that we’ve been talking about all semester. For example, almost every site handles the task of vetting proposals differently. Some, like Kickstarter, require that a funding proposal first be approved by site staff before being shown to potential funders. CofundOS, on the other hand, allows any proposal to be posted, and relies on users to filter out the garbage for themselves. Those are just two examples- every site handles the publish/filter dynamic differently. Other important differences arise in how the sites manage the relationships that come into play in projects like these. The ways in which funders interact with each other and with who they are funding, as well as with the project itself, vary widely from site to site. Read the rest of this entry »

When starting a small business or launching an idea, the biggest hurdle is often obtaining the seed money necessary to get the venture off the ground. One often has to rely on the depths of their own pockets, generous relatives, or the goodwill of a loaded investor. The Internet and the advent of crowdfunding offers an alternative that promises to turn this model on its head. Individuals around the world are able to make affordable contributions to projects that they feel a personal connection to or would like to see come into fruition for one reason or another. Some donate as little as ten bucks, while others donate thousands of dollars, creating a system of investment that is readily reminiscent of the creation of Linux or other open-sourced projects.

In order to develop this travelogue on crowdfunding, we have each chosen a particular website that will serve as our individual “case study” for the duration of the project. Using a set of predetermined methods, we will each accumulate data on our selected site, and then compile our findings, comparing and contrasting in order to shed some light on this online phenomenon.
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Maybe you have a genius idea. Maybe you’re bursting with creativity but you simply do not have the resources or the financial aid to help you make that idea into a reality. That’s what Kickstarter is for, a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers…” It’s quite the genius little start up. So how Kickstarter works is that project owners choose a target minimum of funds and the deadline by which people can donate/pledge money (via Amazon Payments). If the goal is not met by the deadline, none of the pledged money gets collected. If the goal is met, the funds go to the project creator, after Kickstarter has taken 5% of it and Amazon has taken another small percentage (~2%). Successfully funded project ideas are permanently archived on the site.

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As students of Media, Culture & Communication, we are forever hearing our professors lament the “death of newspapers” and other traditional news forms. But with this “death” has come an entirely new life form that has gave way to a multitude of news sources on various platforms other than print media. The overarching term for this concept is most commonly known as online journalism. In exploring the various types of online journalism, the form that has emerged as the most interesting and popular recently is nonprofit online news organizations. While there are myriad nonprofit news organizations, our research has brought light two organizations that present new and innovative concepts in online journalism–Spot.us and Propublica.

Both websites are funded by The Knight Foundation which is a foundation dedicated to promoting journalism. Propublica is largely funded by former banker Herb Sandler who pledges $10 million annually to the site, as well as tax-deductible donations made by the public. In further examining these news organizations, we divided the two in an attempt to further delve into the inner workings of each organization, with myself further examining Spot.us, and Andrew examining Propublica.

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