iA


Brickstarter goes Turkish

Apologies for the radio silence lately. We’ve been working hard on a number of other projects here in the strategic design unit at Sitra. Those include a Helsinki Design Lab event coming up in a few days, launching a food entrepreneurship bootcamp called Open Kitchen, and preparing Brickstarter for an exhibition.

We’re very happy to be participating in the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial as part of Adhocracy, which is being curated by Joseph Grima of Domus and countless other projects. The curatorial statement is about as tailor-made for Brickstarter as I could imagine. Here are some snippets:

 The convergence of instantaneously shared knowledge, the birth of countless transnational networks, new technologies of production, and a collective impetus towards a culture of collaboration instead of competition suggest a new economic and political interpretation of the act of designing.

This new paradigm reveals an incipient role for design as an act of shaping society by enabling self-organisation, producing platforms of exchange, and empowering networks of grass-roots production. The emergence of the open-source movement; the arrival of affordable micro-manufacturing technologies; the explosion of hacker and maker culture; the democratisation of technology through projects like Arduino and participatory platforms such as Kickstarter—all point to an ideological shift away from established conventions of consumerism and the inception of a new understanding of design’s role within society, one in which end-users are no longer merely passive consumers but active agents. For the first time, the prospect exists of an equivalency of influence between the strategies of states or corporations and the tactics of individuals, and in response, established structures of power are quickly evolving. In many ways, design is now the theatre of a fast-moving conflict over society’s future, and the search for a new language of design is the struggle for the establishment of a new, networked commons.

Welcome to the age of adhocracy. As the opposite of bureaucracy, adhocracy cuts across accepted conventions and power structures to capture opportunities, self-organise and develop new and unexpected methodologies of production. It inhabits the horizontal, rhizomatic realm of the network, in which innovation—resourceful, subversive, anti-dogmatic, spontaneous—can come from anywhere.

A large part of our research and sketching on Brickstarter has been about finding the seams, or breakpoints, of bureaucracy and the limits of the network-fueled crowd. In other words, we’re interested in the space between bureaucracy and adhocracy. One of our hypotheses is that there’s an awkward gap between the ten of thousands (and occasional millions) in which most crowdfunding currently lingers, and the hundreds of millions (or even billions) that mark the price tag on the things that bureaucracies were built to handle.

The numbers are more succinct: The cost of Helsinki’s ongoing metro extension is $1 billion. The most successful project ever funded on Kickstarter raised $10 million. If those same 69,00 digital watch fans wanted to build a metro they would be on the hook for $14,000 each.

But don’t take this to mean that we’re being conservative or pessimistic about the potential for networked, or peer-powered, approaches to making big decisions together. No, we’re as committed as ever, and our interest in the gap between bureaucracy and adhocracy is about knowing both in their full detail. We’ve been trying using the Brickstarter project to understand the texture and grain of the dark matter that is bureaucracy, and then doing the same with community groups who are proactively trying to make things happen in their own neighborhoods. The exhibition was a nice impetus to distill our exploration into short texts.

Our presentation in Istanbul is organized into a series of five provocations. One poster each on The Crowd, Dark Matter, Design Probes, and Open Questionsand the fifth is a life-sized diorama. We’ve re-created a fictional desk from Helsinki City Planning’s offices to help viewers feel the frustrations of the status quo.

bsr

It started with a sketch like this.

plan

Plan view. That’s the desk on the bottom right corner there.

With the diorama portion of our installation we are trying to evoke the difficulty of current decision-making for both sides of the system, bureaucrats and citizens. Being on the receiving end of endless NIMBY complaints without the power or tools to have a more productive discusion is eminently frustrating. Likewise, to feel as though input, positive or negative, goes into an abyss of unread email is equally difficult.

elevation

Elevation showing the raised desk and other scene-setting accoutrement such as the coat rack and clock.

The surface of the desk is raised just above eye height so that visitors are forced to speculate about what’s happening on the unseeable desktop. Or, as Tom Waits put it, what’s he [sic] building in there?” What’s on the desk, front and center? What is the fictional bureaucrat doing instead of responding to messages from their constituency? We don’t know, of course, and don’t have a way to find out, really. This is the exasperating experience of tumbling through dark matter, made real and livable within the gallery. Tall people: no cheating!

Building the diorama involved creating some key props that would exude the unloved environment of a municipal back office, starting with the ever present kahvi mug.

mug1

Left: original mug, printed on demand in a local mall. Right: the first pass at ageing the mug with over-strong coffee, sandpaper, and some whacks with a screwdriver.

mug0

None of us expected that we would be mummifying a coffee mug in coffee-soaked paper towels as part of our work at Sitra. This turned out to be less effective than we expected. The microwave worked much better.

mug2

The final product. It’s overplayed, to be sure, but it should look about right from afar.

The laser printer that’s sitting on the desk will be spewing a collection of real complaint and suggestion emails from the Helsinki metropolitan area. If all goes well, over time this should result in a messy pile on the floor. Visitors will be invited to file them in provided inboxes. We’ll see how many do.

Further updates once the exhibit is installed down in Istanbul. Unfortunately we’re going to miss the opening due to our HDL event happening on the exact same days. Maybe someone will drop by and take some pictures for us. The show is up October 13-December 12th if you happen to be passing through (or living in) Istanbul.

Check back this week as we post the provocations. The first one will appear Monday.

No comments yet

Bryan

Posted by
Bryan Boyer


Fact Card: Holvi

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

holvi

What?
Launched in 2012, Holvi is not a ‘traditional’ crowdfunding platform for projects, but instead it offers project groups an online bank service with a visual interface for handling their money and better finance keeping.

How does it work?

  • After opening an account, Holvi customers can share the account with, for example, a project group.
  • In addition to simply showing the current account balance, Holvi is equipped with tools for budgeting, invoicing and bookkeeping.
  • Holvi also provides a possibility to build an online store to sell tickets or merchandise.

Who’s involved?
Project teams, associations or anyone by themselves can use Holvi. Holvi is run by Holvi Payment Services Ltd and backed by investors as well as Tekes (Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation).

Status:
Active. Holvi is currently only available in Finland but will soon be expanding its operations to other countries.

Website:
www.holvi.com

2 Comments

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Mesenaatti.me

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

mesenaatti

What?
Mesenaatti is a prototype for a Finnish crowdfunding platform. The project has been shaping for the past couple of years in the developer group and is now taking bigger steps towards becoming reality.

How does it work?

  • Waiting for its launch, Mesenaatti has posted some guidelines about how the service works both for project creators as well as project backers.
  • Project creators present projects online by video, text and pictures stating the aim as well as supporter rewards, project goal and deadline.
  • According to the website, backers are (depending on the project) eligible for profit if the project is successful. However, this is not explained further and the method is unclear.

Who’s involved?
Project creators and backers (registered users can act as both), Mesenaatti team.

Status:
Pre-launch. Mesenaatti is under construction due to launch during early 2013.

Website:
http://mesenaatti.me

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Voordekunst

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Voordekunst

What?
Started in 2010, Voordekunst is a Dutch crowdfunding platform aiming at supporting cultural projects.

How does it work?

  • Registered users post projects on the website and run campaigns to fund them by offering rewards to other registered users in exchange for their donations.
  • Project creators choose a deadline and a minimum goal of funds to raise. For the project to receive the funding the entire goal must be reached by the deadline. Project creators often upload video, images and other media on the project site and send updates on the project.

Who’s involved?
Project creators and backers (registered users can act as both). Voordekunst was initiated by Amsterdams Fonds Voor De Kunst.

Status:
Active. Voordekunst is currently only available in Dutch.

Website
www.voordekunst.nl

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Indiegogo

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Indiegogo

What?
Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding platform launched in 2008. Indiegogo has many of the same basic features as, for example, Kickstarter. Indiegogo is open for projects internationally and anyone with a bank account can start a project or contribute to projects.

How does it work?

  • Like in many other crowdfunding services, the project needs a project page to explain visitors what the project is about, what is happening, how the users can help and what unique returns they’ll get for becoming contributors. Ownership of the campaign remains with the project initiators.
  • Indiegogo uses an algorithm called the gogofactor. After a funding campaign is launched, sharing, tweeting, and “likes” of the campaign boost the gogofactor and once raised enough the project can be featured on the Indiegogo homepage.
  • Indiegogo offers two funding types: Flexible Funding allows projects to keep the money they raise, regardless of whether they meet their goal. Fixed Funding refunds the money back to contributors if the goal is not met. Indiegogo retains 4% of the funding and 3% goes to third parties for processing credit card fees. An extra 9% is retained with Flexible Funding if the project does not meet its goal but they keep what they have gathered.

Who’s involved?
Project creators, backers (registered users can act as both). Indiegogo is run by Indiegogo Inc.

Status:
Active. Indiegogo is an international platform with campaigns running in over 200 countries.

Website:
www.indiegogo.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Kiva.org

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

kiva.org

What?
Kiva is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to alleviate poverty. Kiva enables individuals to lend small amounts, as little as $25, to help create opportunities around the world for those in need of little extra capital.

How does it work?

  • After registration members can make a loan on Kiva. Lenders and their need for loans are featured on the Kiva website. All loans are vetted, administered, and disbursed by Kiva Field Partners (microfinance organisations around the world).
  • Kiva sends email updates during the loan period and updates on progress are also posted on the website.
  • After the borrower repays the loan, the money becomes available as Kiva Credit in the lender’s account. Kiva Credit can then be used to fund another loan, donated to Kiva, or withdrawn from the service.

Who’s involved?
Lenders and borrowers around the world. Kiva is supported by a wide range of corporations and foundations offering their support through discounted services and free software as well as grants and financial backing.

Status:
Active. Kiva offers micro loans in over 60 countries.

Website:
www.kiva.org

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Lucky Ant

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

LuckyAnt

What?
Launched in January 2012, Lucky Ant is another example of extending crowdfunding to local businesses. Like Smallknot, the service gives small business owners a way to raise money in the form of small donations to fund improvement projects.

How does it work?

  • Lucky Ant uses a one-project-a-week model instead of featuring several projects at the same time. This is done to allow people to focus on one project which will hopefully lead to a higher conversion rate.
  • Registered users receive an email at the beginning of the week informing about the most recent campaign. Campaigns need to reach their goal to receive the money for the project.
  • Community members receive special rewards, VIP treatment and other perks in exchange for supporting their local businesses.
  • Lucky Ant charges a commission fee from the businesses for featuring the campaign.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, local businesses, Lucky Ant Inc.

Status:
Active. The service is currently only operating in New York.

Website:
http://www.luckyant.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Neighborhood Matching Fund (Seattle)

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Neighbourhoodmatching

What?
Created already back in 1988, the Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) program provides community groups with resources from the City of Seattle for community-driven projects enhancing and strengthening their own neighborhoods. City of Seattle sees strong neighborhoods and active residents as one of Seattle’s assets and the NMF program promotes collaboration between the City and the community as well as community building.

How does it work?

  • All projects are initiated, planned and implemented by community members in partnership with the City.
  • There are three funds within the Neighborhood Matching Fund Program for projects of different size.
  • An award from the City is matched by resources of volunteer labor, donated materials, donated professional services or cash from neighborhoods or communities.
  • For example physical projects (e.g. a playground or public art, etc.) require a 1:1 match meaning the community match must equal the funding request. Non-physical projects (e.g. design, planning, events, etc.) require a ½:1 match meaning the community match must equal at least half of the funding request.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods.

Status:
Active. Since 1988 some 4 000 projects have been awarded through the program.

Website:
http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Smallknot

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

Smallknot

What?
Launched in early 2012, Smallknot lets people invest in the small businesses in their community in exchange for goods, services, special perks and other benefits. Smallknot serves exclusively to the needs of local businesses looking to expand and grow but need a little extra capital. Banks often don’t lend to the smallest businesses and often projects like these get pushed forward.

How does it work?

  • After finding an interesting business among the available campaign, users can invest in campaigns by choosing one of the offered returns. Money is charged only if the business hits its stated goal. Supporters will be contacted about how to claim their return.
  • Project contributors do not earn interest on Smallknot. Supporters do not take any kind of ownership in the businesses they support.
  • Smallknot retains a 10% commission on any successful campaign. In addition an additional 2.9% is charged for payment processing.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, local businesses, Smallknot Inc.

Status:
Active. Smallknot operates primarily in New York but are looking into expanding to other cities in the US.

Website:
www.smallknot.com

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


Fact Card: Neighbor.ly

Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification.

neighborly
What?
Launched in July 2012, Neighbor.ly is a crowdfunding platform designed to accept projects only from local governmental and civic-natured entities which are then funded by local citizens.  Also included is a project proposal system for citizens to propose a project for the local government to take on.

How does it work?

  • Neighbor.ly’s focus is on improvement projects within transportation, sports, entertainment, education and public amenities.
  • Individual citizens are not able to start projects, but instead they have to be initiated from the local government side.
  • If a project doesn’t get fully funded, the backers will receive credit for their contribution in the form of Neighbor.ly credits, which can then later be used to back other projects. Neighbor.ly retains 5% of contributions made on the platform.
  • Contributions are handed over when projects are officially approved either within the city or given permission by the respective authority.

Who’s involved?
Citizens, local government, Neighbor.ly Inc.

Status:
Active. Neighbor.ly has been launched in Kansas City, Missouri.

Website:
www.neighbor.ly

No comments yet

maija

Posted by
Maija Oksanen


1 2 3 4 7