Every couple of months it seems that one of my friends teases me about one of my first blog posts [re-posted here]. I’ll admit liking Pomplamoose is pretty hipster, but hey I like the music. I also really like their success in going around the traditional gatekeepers of the music industry. They first gained success by posting music on youtube (free of charge, of course), but what really struck me was when I saw that half of Pomplamoose (Nataly Dawn) raised over $100,000 to record a solo album after asking for $20,000 on Kickstarter. Then a gaming company raised over 1 million for a game console in 8 hours (that’s over 2k a minute). Clearly people will pay to fund the things they like. And this got me thinking would people fund my research? Would someone give me $25 to present at a conference if I sent them the conference paper and talked with them about it online? Would someone give me $50 to give a sample run of my presentation to them over Skype? Would someone give me $100 for research if I thanked them in an article or my dissertation?
Well, Kickstarter doesn’t allow “fund my life” projects, which is what asking for funds for research or conference presentations would likely be classified as. And anyways there are already funds for travel and research in academia (from departments, institutions, and external agencies), right? Of course, but it always seems like humanities funding is hanging by a thread. The humanities always need to justify their importance in the changing modern world and what better way to justify your work than to have the public prove it with their support?
Kickstarter is filled with people self-publishing books, magazines, films, albums and other things. While self-publishing is a big no-no in academia, could a journal get funded through a Kickstarter project? (I’d be interesting in hearing about it if one has). What if someone made an academic version of Kickstarter? Maybe only projects that have built in buff fanbases (like the American Civil War) would get funded, but I’m sure those historians wouldn’t mind. One of thing that I have put into many different blog posts is that many people love history and academic historians seem unable or unwilling to take advantage of this. Browsing Kickstarter, I just see so much money being moved around for creative projects and I can’t help but think academics are missing out on a powerful funding force (the people).