What’s the deal with crowdfunding? Taking a look at the promises and pitfalls of the crowd.

Photo: James Cridland (CC BY 2.0)

Scroll this

In this video, I take a look at the crowdfunding landscape, and ask:

  • What does crowdfunding look like today?
  • How does it work?
  • How is it different or similar to existing modes of commerce and industry?
  • What digital mechanisms and architecture enable crowdfunding?
  • Where are the notable successes and failures of crowdfunding so far?
  • Where are the risks and what are the limitations of the crowdfunding model?

In examining the concept of crowdfunding through a critical lens with the above questions, I try to answer whether crowdfunding is an example of the digital world’s democratising potential. As with many areas of the digital world, the answer is not cut and dried. There are complexities, contradictions, and possibilities as yet uncertain.

Undertaking this analysis through the medium of video has been a challenging exercise for a number of reasons. Firstly, and importantly, although it is an analytical and scholarly exercise, the medium of video requires an inherently creative mindset (and due to difficult personal circumstances, I found myself struggling with creative conceptualisation, which I might not have otherwise). Beyond simply writing an essay as a script, the delivery of this analysis through video requires thinking about visual and audio communication, and blending persuasive argumentative structure, with ensuring that the video is clear, able to be understood and able to hold the viewer’s interest.

Aside from the innate complications and considerations of the video medium to deliver an academic analysis, the subject matter posed its own challenges. Crowdfunding is an exciting and dynamic area, however it is much easier to write about than it is to showcase in a video, particularly with content strictures that form part of the assignment requirements. Many images or videos that could be from the crowdfunding sphere are the copyrighted material of either producers or creators, or the platforms that host those projects. Finding relevant, useful content that is in the creative commons domain proved difficult, thus limiting the options in this regard.

Additionally, in terms of creating media specifically for purpose, there were some other difficulties. Many parts of crowdfunding are somewhat abstract in nature, particularly in illustrating the workings of the mechanisms or the flows of money or other conceptual foundations. When trying to demonstrate these visually, this required either some creative approaches to demonstrating the content being discussed, or relying on the script and a personal delivery to camera.

Turning to research, sources of credible and robust information and research about crowdfunding are mixed. As a recent commercial model (at least in the form that we understand crowdfunding today), it is still a very nascent area of academic investigation. This has meant some challenges in finding diverse sources from which to read and source relevant information and inputs. But this is offset somewhat by a wide and rich variety of other writing and analyses of crowdfunding, particularly from the technology industry as well as specific industries served by differing platforms. Balance scholarly and non-scholarly sources for this video has been a consideration which has required diligence.

In conclusion, the assignment has been a valuable and challenging exercise. Juggling the research and analysis of academic investigation, with the creative and technical skills required to deliver a video, has been a useful experience. With video taking an increasing share of social and digital communications, being able to work confidently and comfortably in this medium is obviously valuable, and those who can deliver well structured arguments or calls to action via video will be well placed as communicators in future.

Sources

Anderson, C 2004, The Long Tail, retrieved 28 June 2017, <http://changethis.com/manifesto/10.LongTail/pdf/10.LongTail.pdf>.

Anderson, C 2006, The Rise and Fall of the Hit, retrieved 2 July 2017 <https://www.wired.com/2006/07/longtail/>.

Grell, K B, Marom, D, Swart, R 2015, ‘Introduction: Empowering the Crowd’, Crowdfunding: The Corporate Era, Elliott and Thompson, London, pp. 7-14.

Harris, M 2016, How Zano Raised Millions on Kickstarter and Left Most Backers with Nothing, retrieved 10 July 2017, <https://medium.com/kickstarter/how-zano-raised-millions-on-kickstarter-and-left-backers-with-nearly-nothing-85c0abe4a6cb>.

English, R 2014, ‘Rent-a-crowd? Crowdfunding academic research’, First Monday, vol. 19, no. 1-6.

Flannery, M 2007, ‘Kiva and the Birth of Person-to-Person Microfinance’, Innovations, Winter & Spring 2007, MIT Press Journals.

Kashkooli, K, Younkin, P 2016, ‘What Problems Does Crowdfunding Solve?’, California Management Review, Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 20–43.

Music

Feeling Sunny’, by Scott Holmes (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Additional footage

Dancing crowd, by JasonMingHong via pixabay.com (CC0)
Island aerial, by bellergy via pixabay.com (CC0)

My Broader Online Activity

Although online activity for Trimester 1 has subsided with the end of term (#ALC708 is dead! Long live #ALC708!), I’ve enjoyed being an active and positive contributor to the unit’s online world. Unfortunately, my participation was severely curtailed in the final weeks due to the death of a close family member, however my overall trimester was an active one.

  • Tiffit tally: for a summary of online activity, see the Tiffit tally for Trimester 1.
  • Twitter: regular engagement with the unit hashtag, as well as with students and teaching staff.
  • Soundcloud: engagement with others students on their podcast assignments, and interacting with them on my podcast assignment.
  • About.me: provides links to all my relevant social media channels.