A lot can happen in six hours. You can fly from New York City to San Francisco. You can watch The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Or, if you’re the Pebble team, you can announce your new smartwatch and raise $5 million. Here's how it went down:
At 9:44 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Pebble Time launched on Kickstarter.
If you’ve been following the debate over Net Neutrality, which we’ve been talking about in this space and others since last summer, you know that a remarkable, inspiring, and kinda crazy thing happened: We won!
Well, almost. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his plan to put forward strong Net Neutrality rules, including the crucial Title II reclassification that we’ve been pushing for all along. We’re so glad that our government is doing what it’s supposed to do: listening to us, and to you, and to the millions of people who filed comments. We’ve made clear that the Internet needs to be open and free — a place where people can say and see what they want, a place that isn’t divided into fast and slow lanes. Even President Obama agreed.
And so the FCC listened. But, as you might imagine, the cable companies aren’t happy. And they’re still trying to get the FCC to change the plan before the vote on February 26. It’s important that we all rally behind the Chairman’s proposal until the final t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. The devil is in the details, after all, and the FCC needs to include some important technical specifics in its final proposal.
Title II reclassification is essential because it gives the FCC authority to adopt good rules, but it isn’t enough. The rules themselves have to be really good. Without bright-line rules against discrimination and also against zero-rating, the big, incumbent companies will still have an unfair advantage.
In these last few days, let’s make sure that the FCC guarantees real Net Neutrality — without any loopholes. You can speak out on your own social networks, by filing a comment directly with the FCC, using Tumblr’s tool to call your representative or joining Demand Progress’ Battle for the Net. See, you’re free to use whatever website you like! Let’s make sure it stays that way.
You may have heard that some award show called The Academy Awards is happening this Sunday. This is, needless to say, always a big thing for film, but it's also a big thing for us. Every year since 2011, at least one Kickstarter-funded film has been nominated for an Oscar, and this year is no different. Congrats to Finding Vivian Maier for its nomination for best documentary feature!
To get prepped for the event, we gathered all of the previous nominees in one place along with the trailers for those films. You can head over to our Watch Now page and get them all in before Sunday night if you start now.
Journalism may be one of Kickstarter's newest categories, but writers, editors, and publishers are already launching great work into the world. From conflict reporting to new storytelling platforms, here are some of the most exciting journalism projects live on our site right now.
Award-winning GlobalPost is behind some of the most important and dangerous journalistic work out there, creating a fearless team to continue telling human stories in violent conflicts all around the world.
The Riveter — a women's longform lifestyle magazine in print and online — has sold out of every copy they've printed. Now, they're ready to go steady and make it a quarterly publication, bringing more women's voices into the media.
Last year, the Vancouver Observer ran a project to report on the tar sands in Canada. Their new project is taking it national, launching a new publication focused on tackling energy politics and the environment.
Femsplain is a space for anyone female-identified to share experiences, connect and learn together. In order to continue elevating important and diverse conversations, they're now looking to pay their contributors.
Massively.com recently lost their corporate sponsorship, but no matter: they're now turning to their fans and readers to create a new independent site to continue delivering news and editorials about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game (MMORPG) genre.
Tonight a project called Exploding Kittens made Kickstarter history.
With 219,382 backers, it became the most-backed Kickstarter project of all time! It more than doubled the previous record of 105,857, held by Reading Rainbow since last summer. Wondering what the backings leaderboard looks like?
Exploding Kittens isn’t only the most-backed project, it’s also the most-funded Games project ever, raising $8,782,571. That makes it the third-most-funded project in Kickstarter history. Not bad for a humble card game, huh?
Earlier this week, the Exploding Kittens team (Elan Lee, Shane Small, and The Oatmeal's Matthew Inman) shared a thoughtful update with their backers. Here's what they had to say:
“We’ve never seen anything like you guys, and neither has the planet. You have proven beyond any doubt that you are unstoppable. There’s nothing we can put in front of you that you can’t do. There is nothing too great, nothing too hard, nothing too outrageous that you incredible group of incredible people can’t accomplish as a community."
We'd like to extend a sincere congratulations to Exploding Kittens, and every one of you 219,382 amazing humans that made it happen.
At first glance, Don Moyer's plate designs look like something you've seen before: classic prints in classic colors. But then you look closer and notice the details. Each of his plates depicts different destructive monsters on classic blue-and-white china. Recently he's also gotten into head wear, making bandanas covered with rage-filled paisley designs and rogue pixels, as well as coffee cups. We asked Moyer a few questions about his work, life, and the inspiration behind the angry little things that he designs.
How did you get into making classic blue-and-white china with disaster pictures on it, anyway?
I was trained as a graphic designer and have worked in that role for more than 40 years. Drawing has always been an important part of my job. I've gotten into the habit of drawing a little every day and posting my drawings on Flickr.
In 2011, I inherited a traditional blue Willow-pattern plate that belonged to my mother's grandmother back in Ireland. I had an urge to redraw that plate and crank up the level of excitement. I added a pterodactyl.
As I drew additional plates that were spiced up with different calamities, and posted those drawings on Flickr, people kept saying they'd like to have real plates. In 2013, I launched a Kickstarter project to see if enough people wanted plates to support a production run.
Kickstarter is a great tool for artists because it allows wacky ideas to find sponsors. By simply describing a half-realized dream, Kickstarter allows supporters to add the momentum of a crowd to let the dream take flight. Everyone wins. The artist gets to make things that previously would have been impossible. And the sponsors get to enjoy things that previously would never have existed. Sweet.
Why do you think people love dinnerware with disasters?
This is easy to answer because Kickstarter allows my sponsors to tell me what they are thinking. I get messages that are very specific about what people are doing with their Calamityware plates. What they like is the element of surprise. A seemingly boring, traditional plate, rewards closer scrutiny by revealing something unexpected. This thrill-of-discovery idea pops up in almost all my fan mail. Some people talk about watching dinner guests clear their plates and make the discovery. There's talk of astonishing grandchildren.
A few sponsors talk about the plates as a filter—guests who don't notice the plates will not be invited back.
Some people think it is fun to mock grandma's plates. And others are in love with robots, monsters, or UFOS.
In general, I'd say that my sponsors enjoy laughing and stand a little closer to the fringe rather than the center of the distribution curve.
Describe your workspace and your process.
I wish I could tell you about a magical process with fairies or astounding technology, but my process is actually pretty mundane:
In my Moleskine notebook, I start with a drawing of the whole plate, or the plate center, to see if the calamity will make me laugh. A plague of frogs was funny. A snowstorm was not.
Next I audition elements of the design by drawing them several times in my notebook. For example, if I need a shrub, tree, or fence, I draw 10 or 20 and pick the best.
I scan these elements and bring them into Adobe Illustrator to make a composition. In Illustrator, I can draw additional elements like bridges and pagodas, which are more crisp and mechanical looking.
Then, I invent borders. Instead of copying a specific traditional design, I look at some old plates and then make a new design that captures some of the spirit of old plates and mixes it with the spirit of my notebook drawings.
I hang printouts of my designs on my dining room wall and try to see them fresh each day. Over a period of several weeks, this allows flaws to become visible—too dark, too light, too thick, too thin, etc. I fix the flaws.
If the Kickstarter project is funded, the ceramics workshop that supports me produces transfers and then applies my drawing to blank porcelain plates with vitreous inks and fires them.
For me, there are two parts of this process that are great fun: the original drawing in my notebook is a treat, especially when it makes me laugh. Building the gaudy borders is also fun because it deals with excess. My training as a graphic designer was all about "less is more." We were taught that ornament is crime. Willow-pattern plate borders would earn you a life sentence with the Modernists. To me, that adds another layer to the joke.
Have you found or made any surprising connections with people as a result of your projects?
I like this question because it recognizes that often, the greatest benefit of a project will be something that wasn’t within the scope of the project. I think of this as the Columbus Effect. His project was to find a short route to China, but he opened up something even better.
My series of Calamityware Kickstarter projects has helped me make some unexpected connections. I found a superb coffee roaster in South Dakota. I formed a strong bond with two friends who came to my rescue with improved business systems. I met someone who makes jewelry out of broken plate fragments. I've met entrepreneurs doing their own projects who have offered advice to help me cope with rough spots. I've been invited to exhibit my drawings. I met one of my favorite New Yorker cartoonists. And I've corresponded with dozens of charming, kind, and funny people who were strangers to me before.
It's also possible that many more connections are germinating and will bear fruit months or even years later. You just never know.
What's the weirdest or most interesting thing that has happened as a result of Calamityware?
Here's one odd angle I didn't know anything about before I started the Calamityware projects:
Several archeologists have told me that shards from broken transferware plates are a valuable tool to date historic sites. I'm told that all sites in North America have broken china and that experts can date the site by scrutinizing the fragments. By looking at porcelain type, colors, and images, it is possible to calculate when people arrived at a site and even where they might have come from. Long-gone global trade routes can be sussed from the broken bits.
I'm told that archeologists have timelines that show when changes in the technology of porcelain occurred. By matching the shards from a site to the time line, they can determine when the site was occupied. Archeology students are trained to match samples to these time lines. To mess with the kids, teachers are now including a few shards of Calamityware among the old pieces. I love the idea of a student trying to understand why the shard they are studying has flying monkeys on it.
Then I project the idea forward another thousand years. Imagine the robotic archeologists of the future sifting through the rubble and trying to make sense of a piece of Calamityware. I like to picture them good and truly mystified.
The word "library" used to conjure an image of a big brick building full of books where you had to be quiet all the time, but thanks to the internet, it's now a whole lot less specific. Take, for example, the Little Free Libraries that are springing up in neighborhoods all over the world. Anyone can download plans for a Little Free Library, build it, and fill it with books they want to share with their community. We've collected a few such projects on this map.
Resources distributed by a library now extend far beyond books too. Seed libraries store, catalogue, and share seeds, while tool libraries lend tools and other equipment out to members of the community. And some libraries have no physical presence whatsoever, such as sound libraries, which compile and share digital archives. Tons more examples of outstanding libraries are viewable using our Library tag.
We wanted an update on the state of libraries, so we spoke to a few creators who have firsthand experience creating or managing them.
Kauser Razvi looked at the vacant lots in Cleveland, where she resides with her family, and saw an opportunity. She started a program called Literary Lots, which transforms those lots into interactive educational spaces for children, in an effort to bring books off the page.
At his first architecture job after finishing school, Edward Boatman had trouble locating visual communication assets for his projects. That inspired him to co-found The Noun Project, a crowdsourced visual dictionary of over 100,000 symbols and icons.
Leslie Davol co-founded and runs a nonprofit called The Uni Project with her husband, Sam. The Uni is a portable reading room, intended to instantaneously transform nearly any public space into a library.
The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California, was founded in 1981, and Assistant Director Mike Scutari has worked there for the past five years. The Library is a nonprofit arts center and book store, and hosts all manner of community-centric events in their outdoor amphitheater.
What is a library? How would you define it?
Mike: We'd consider a library a collection of books — that's the baseline. But a library can also reflect the spirit of the community it serves or exude a particular sense of experience, depending on how it's curated.
Edward: A library is a resource to help humans find, locate, and ultimately use different types of media.
Kauser: A library is a place for communities to gather, where you can learn, seek information, gain knowledge, and seek access to things there aren’t available from another source.
Leslie: Public libraries do so many things these days: cultural programming, social services, maker spaces, tool shares, cafes. And, of course, Internet access. Sometimes they still have books too.
What's so important about libraries?
Leslie: Libraries embed some of our most cherished values in an actual place—a place that you can enter without having to pay, alongside people from all walks of life, where you can learn something and improve yourself. Try this: imagine deleting all libraries from the city. What remaining places would offer this combination of real services and symbolic importance? Without libraries, our society feels dramatically diminished.
Mike: They provide a sense of stillness and reflection in an ever-busy world. They provide a unique aesthetic experience where it's cool to simply sit down, read a book, and hang out for hours on end. There are no expectations or commercial demands beyond simply utilizing the space, and that's a rare thing. Lastly, public libraries provide excellent programming that supplements in-school learning and give kids a place to go after school.
What do all good libraries have in common?
Kauser: Great librarians. Great librarians can open your eyes to new books and ideas, and help lead you to things you might not have otherwise be able to find.
Leslie: Libraries are nothing special, I think, without people behind them—not just to answer your reference questions but to act as hosts of these important spaces.
Mike: In an age of automated customer service and unsolicited "cold texts," it's difficult to find places where you can talk to a real-live human, face to face, without a paralyzing sense of urgency. It's refreshing.
The year is 2050. What are libraries like in the future?
Edward: I recently tried the Oculus virtual reality headset, it was hands down the most powerful technological experience I’ve ever had, and I can’t imagine that libraries won’t use this technology in the future. Imagine browsing through the Library of Congress in your living room.
Kauser: I think in 2050, when I’m really old lady, people will feel the need to get out of their digital world/pods and the library can be a place where so many ideas and mediums mix.
Mike: Libraries will fully embrace their role as a community gathering space.
Leslie: I have no idea! Ours will still have real books with pages you can turn, I can promise you that. Our little institution lives or dies by our ability to attract people’s attention, engage them, and delight them in a world that is saturated with screens. We have great pop-up books.
What advice do you have for people that want to create a library of their own?
Kauser: It’s the ideas of collection and bringing together that are so important for a library.
Leslie: Build a collection of great books. Share.
Mike: Don't be intimidated by new technology trends or keeping up with the Joneses. Rather, embrace your strengths — things like your connections to community organizations, individuals, and your area's history.
Edward: Build around you a community of like-minded passionate people that share your vision. Then empower this community to help collect, curate, and share the content within your library. You’ll find as this community grows, so will your library.
There’s nothing more fun than being a fan and connecting with people who share your obsessions. It's even better when you can create your own art based on fandom, and allow like-minded people to share in your celebration. Here are a few of our favorite publishing projects that celebrate the best of pop culture.
The comprehensive reference book for die-hard Madge fans, the 20th anniversary edition of Matthew Rettenmund's Encyclopedia Madonnica (originally published in 1995 by St. Martin's) has been updated to include new never-before seen photos and other Madonnabilia.
What do your favorite superheroes do when they’re just hanging out? Illustrator Grégoire Guillemin attempts to answer that question in The Secret Life of Heroes, a graphic anthology featuring many beloved characters as you’ve never ever seen them before.
Twin Peaks is really having a moment lately. Damn Fine Coffee is an art zine that celebrates the 1990-1991 serial crime drama — and it’s pie and coffee-loving hero — just in time for the show's return for a limited season run in 2016.