The Kickstarter Blog

This Week in Kickstarter

  1. Now Trending: Alternative Education

    Not that long ago, a Kickstarter project told us "Don't Go Back To School." Instead, the author proposed the idea of self-taught learning, profiling dozens of fascinating creative folk — programmers, historians, designers, and engineers, among them — who had built successful careers through the independent accrual of knowledge and skills. It certainly does seem that the future is bright for the homegrown intellectual (or architect, or business person, or journalist, or...) and a slew of recently launched projects on the site are helping point the way. On their own, each provides an interesting and alternative take on traditional education, but all together they provide a snapshot of the myriad ways technology, community, and creative minds are coming together to teach each other new, cool things — whether that be building robots, debating politics, or just cooking a good meal. Check 'em out!

    Trade School: Learning Spaces That Run On Barter, by OurGoods.org

    Trade School started three years ago as a project among friends, but has since grown to global proportions. It's a barter-based classroom system where anybody can teach a class, and money never changes hands. Instead, students can offer their own skills: original art, homemade food, graphic design, gardening advice, or whatever else they've got. So far, they've hosted classes on "everything from squatting the condos (in exchange for a kombucha mother and research help) to making butter (in exchange for herbs and music tips)." 

    Roominate: Make It Yours! by Maykah Inc.

    Roominate is an educational toy aimed at inspiring the next generation of female technology innovators. Composed of wooden building pieces and DIY circuit components, kids are invited to use their imagination to design, build, and wire unique and interactive homes. Girls can make restaurants, pet shops, hospitals, or their dream home (maybe that includes each of the aforementioned),  but the DIY circuits mean that buzzers will really buzz, lights will switch on, and ceiling fans will churn. The toy's creators hope this exciting, interactive environment may just inspire girls to start building bigger things one day.

    Bring It To The Table, by Julie Winokur

    Bring it to the Table is a participatory online platform aimed at bridging political divides. Through a series of interactive webisodes, the series invites people from across conservative, liberal, and whatever other lines to speak openly to each other with direct, honest questions, and encourages viewers to really listen to what's being said. What you hear may be surprising, at times even shocking, but — more than anything else — is guaranteed to enlightening.

    Panna: A step-by-step video cooking app for the iPad, by David Ellner

    Panna aims to collect the best recipes designed for the home cook from the world's best chefs, and provide them for subscribers on a monthly basis. They'll be divided into handy categories like "Weeknight Meals" and "Classics" (lasagna, anyone!?), and the list of contributors already includes industry greats like Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill in Chicago, and Anita Lo of Annisa in New York City. And with meticulously created, step-by-step video instructions to follow, you'll finally be able to master those simple, but crucial, techniques like how to roast the perfect chicken, or how to caramelize that onion just right. (Because, let's face it, even if we don't need to know how to make a killer eggs benedict, it sure makes life  a whole lot more delicious.) 

    The Watt? An Energy 101 Primer, by Focus the Nation

    The Watt? is an interactive e-book to provide comprehensive, accessible information about where our energy comes from and where it goes, in the hopes of helping a new generation tackle our growing environmental and economic challenges. "Consider it a user's manual or primer or resource guide," the authors write in their project description. "Or maybe it's a 21st Century textbook. We're creating a complete and comprehensive Energy 101 education, in language and charts and graphics that we all can understand." By providing readers with a resource to reference their energy use, they hope to help people make more informed decisions about their small, everyday habits, and thus build toward a better future for all.

    Educational Colorimeter Kit, by IO Rodeo

    Colorimeters are extremely useful analytical devices commonly used in labs to measure the concentration of a solution from its light absorbing properties, but it has a wide-range of other fun and educational uses like testing water quality or measuring the activity of an enzyme over time. The Colorimeter Kit is an affordable, easily assembled, open-source version of this instrument made especially for teachers, students, and DIY scientists (like you!).  Once you get going, a suite of specially designed software helps you track, map, and share your data, making the experience fully interactive and pretty darn fun. 

    There's still tons more to learn, of course, so be sure to check out our Staff Picks page for other cool projects. 

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  2. Projects in the News

    Every week, we round up some of the stories about projects that made it into the press. We're happy to see them out there in the real world, and excited to share their progress with you! Read on.

    Linda Holmes of NPR featured the NY Shakespeare Exchange Sonnet Project, which promises to create a year-long video exploration of Shakespeare’s great love poems: "It's a drive to raise $45,000, in large part to support a pair of upcoming undertakings. The first, called the Sonnet Project, means to create 154 videos of 154 actors reading 154 of Shakespeare's love poems in 154 locations in New York... There are ambitious plans for the release of the videos at a rate of two or three per week over a year leading up to Shakespeare's 450th birthday (or thereabouts) in April 2014. There will also be walking tours, special features, and plenty more." 

    Vera Titunik of the New York Times' "6th Floor Blog" spotlighted about the Signage Depicting Imaginary Building Uses in New Orleans art project: "Rob [Walker] and his wife, Ellen Susan, and his friend G.K. Darby made their Kickstarter goal for their project, which they called the Hypothetical Development Organization (tagline: Implausible Futures for Unpopular Places), produced an exhibition and now have been chosen to be included in the official U.S. presentation at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale, Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good."

    Lucas Shaw of The Wrap penned a piece entitled "Kickstarter: The Indie Filmmaker's New Best Friend" featuring narrative film project Fat Kids Rule the World about an outcast who finds purpose in life through punk rock: "When Matthew Lillard needed a distributor for his directorial debut, Fat Kid Rules the World, he knew he had an alternative to the traditional Hollywood studio: Kickstarter.... Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular and viable avenue for independent filmmakers — and Kickstarter has taken the lead among other outlets. 'It’s been happening on a really grass-roots level for a long time,' Lillard told TheWrap, 'but I never thought about putting it together to use on a completed project.'”

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    Jay Barmann of San Francisco's Grub Street wrote about the Forage Kitchen project to create a co-working space for the Bay Area's food community: "because the topic of urban homesteading and artisan pickle-making is so close to so many San Franciscans' hearts, the project has already raised almost $4,000 in just a few hours. That puts Rabins and ForageSF well on their way to their goal, which they've got 45 days to reach. Rabins says they've already got a space picked out (all we know is that it's 10,000 square feet and it's in SoMa), and they'll be building out a shared-use commercial kitchen, as well as a sit-down café space, offices, a meat-curing room, and eventually a rooftop garden as well."

    Ben Flanagan of the Birmingham News posted about the Tiny Tape Recorder project, a short film chronicling the story of a man who discovered a tiny tape recorder has been embedded in his ear since birth: "Kickstarter emulates on a small scale the issues that face a city attempting to raise funds or support for the arts or cultural enterprises," Hanninen says. "Your job when you start a crowdfunding campaign is to make people care, whether it's about that specific project or about you as an individual. If you can take the time and effort to attempt to do that, then it's a fantastic new resource for indie filmmakers."

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