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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The end of the semester seems like the perfect opportunity to look ahead and explore what might come next. We’ve examined the social networks that we’re familiar with, looked at sites that encourage user generated content, and imagined what the implications of dating and gaming sites might be for real world relationships. Now, we should take what we’ve learned and a tell a story about what the future has in store.

At this stage, I’d like to leave it fairly open ended. We could take a sci-fi approach and create something dystopian, extending and exaggerating some of our fears about surveillance, homogenization, and the demise of quality cultural production. Alternatively, we could keep our feet more firmly planted on the ground and explore companies that are being developed at tech start-up incubators like Y-Combinator, BetaWorks and TechStars. We would likely be able to interview mentors in those programs, as well as some of the budding entrepreneurs. We could use their insights to drive our analysis.

The open source movement of the 1980s – 1990s did wonders for the distribution of free, quality software like GNU and Linux. Best of all, open source allowed the public to continuously develop the code, allowing for rapid improvement and benefitting from “cheap failure.”  So what happens when we take the same principle of global collaboration and apply it to global issues? Can the methodology behind software development be useful in creating social innovation? Read the rest of this entry »

To many people, Foursquare simply is the childhood game they played with their friends in the playground. For other, Foursquare is a way to stay connected with their friends and to learn more about the city they are in. Foursquare is a location based application that aims to make cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. Users check-in to venues using smartphone application, mobile web or text messaging. Their check-in location is shared with friends and each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”. There are many types of badges and some badges require users to check-in to a venue a certain amount of time. Foursquare allows users to bookmark information about places that they want to visit, to read friend’s suggestions about the venue and also to see other user’s suggestions about nearby places . Businesses and brands utilize the Foursquare application to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences. Businesses owners are able to use the information and statistics provided by Foursquare to see who comes through their store and better target their marketing and advertising towards the right demographic.
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Deviating away from my initial proposal, I have decided to take the opposite route: instead of researching how we can innovate social media, I am instead hoping to understand how social media is impacting innovation. IDEO, a global design consultancy known for their implementation of design thinking to develop innovative solutions for various companies, has established an online community called OpenIDEO, an online platform designed for creative thinkers to collaborate and share ideas, information, inspiration, concepts, and evaluations. Read the rest of this entry »

I cried when I had to switch to Facebook. Not really, but I was a diehard MySpace fan until the fall of 2008 when I moved towns and realized everyone there used Facebook. I couldn’t figure out why the generic Facebook layouts and lack of personalization beat out the many graphical and musical capabilities of MySpace. I am actually an avid proponent of minimalism, so the Facebook layout does have a certain appeal in that sense – it is simple and systematic to use. But for the average teenager who will fight to the grave for his freedom of self-expression, I found it an odd transition. Facebook executives say MySpace and Friendster failed because of poor management and the inability to control the amount of spam and irrelevant advertisements users received (see some of the failures here). MySpace also lacked a coherent organization system along with having chronic difficulties in sending messages (CAPTCHAS, links marked as spam, etc.) Facebook obviously had a better design which was more user-friendly and improved regularly. But what would make even Facebook better? What is the next generation of social media? Read the rest of this entry »