Yes, Kickstarter Is Terrible. It's Also Everything Great About Technology

Illustration for article titled Yes, Kickstarter Is Terrible. It's Also Everything Great About Technology

Kickstarter is full of awful, ill conceived, downright dumb ideas. So is the internet. So is the universe. But it's also festooned with crazy-good thinking, ingenuity, and imagination. It's fun and unfettered. It's the opposite of the tech industry.

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Here's how the technology we use ends up being created: Companies conceive of products using focus groups, market research, Ouija boards, sorcerers, some more focus groups, international espionage, and dart boards. These ideas may or may not be awesome. Most of the time not. Then, to make the idea into a thing, execs invoke the combined powers of project budgets, clueless managers, competition, and a trillion other factors that don't have to do with making something cool. Next, your gadget is tossed into a cement mixer of public relations shill-olympics, marketing death rays, and orgiastic reviews.

Then it arrives on a shelf for you to buy. You're detached from the entire process. It's passive. Buy it or don't buy it, but here's what's for dinner, buddy.

Kickstarter is the opposite of all of this. Yes—like I said, most of it is total shit. But if you wade through that, you find the golden remainder:

Clever iPad stands.

Someone who wants to make internet GIFs real.

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Two dudes who bought their own island.

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The fucking Robocop statue.

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But really, it's not about those exceptional ideas, whether they end up successfully funded or not. Kickstarter is the only viable place any average Jonny Internet can take a decent idea and stand a chance of making it real. No venture capital vampires, no hype, no need to make it 3D. Restaurants, novels, gadgets, games—rich, interesting things you can buy a small part of to make the earth 0.00000001-percent more interesting without having to lift your ass out of the seat and actually do something. The cream rises to the top. The idiotic millionth iPhone case sits at the ocean's floor.

And it doesn't ask anything of you. Fund something. Or don't, and close the window, and choose easily not to care. The only thing you risk is some cash and a chance to help do something good—sure beats wandering around Best Buy.

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Photo: Kurhan/Shutterstock

DISCUSSION

Here's the problem with Kickstarter - it's being used by established companies to get guaranteed pre-orders.

I don't have a problem with some guy in his garage trying to make a fancy clock. I understand he doesn't have the capital for a large order at a machinist. I know he doesn't understand CAD designs so he needs to hire someone. Those are the kinds of people I want to support with Kickstarter.

What pisses me off is when you have a company, who already has products on the market, who use kickstarter as an insurance policy; basically trying to get guaranteed money before embarking on manufacturing. That's the cost of doing business. And there's a difference between Activision taking a pre-order of a video game to insure delivery or a discount. They are producing the game regardless. I am talking about companies who use Kickstarter as a way to produce a risk free [to the company] product offering.