A Kickstarter Holiday Carol

by Anita Schillhorn van Veen

7 December 2011

Get extra creative this holiday season with Kickstarter.
Leilani's 'Pop Tree' 

Oh the holidays. There are so many possibilities for gift-giving. Every magazine has its recommended gift lists for Dad, or the tech-lover you love, or the fashionista in your life. Online, there’s universes of stuff, from Amazon to eBay to Etsy.

But what if you want to get really, really original? You want to find that one thing that your friend/lover/brother/grandparent won’t be able to get anywhere else? Short of hand-knitting a sweater, I just might have the thing for you.

In case you haven’t heard yet of Kickstarter, let me introduce you. Officially a “crowd-funding” platform, Kickstarter is a site where people can post creative projects to get funding. Musicians, artists, filmmakers and product designers use Kickstarter to raise money towards a goal.

What makes Kickstarter interesting is that it’s spurred a whole new level of creativity. To entice potential funders, they offer give-aways for tiers of funding. What you make and want to get funded for is one thing; what you give to your funders is a whole other thing.

“It’s all about getting closer to the creators and the creative process,” said Justin Kazmark of Kickstarter. Usually that involves getting in on a piece of the action—a creative output like a DVD, or a well-designed product, or attendance at a performance, but sometimes it’s something more personal like a hand-written note of thanks, or that home-cooked meal.

Kickstarter can’t guarantee that a project will get funding, or when the project creator will be able to get you the reward for your money, so don’t expect to be wrapping that robot in time for the holidays.

Since Kickstarter is all about creativity, there are plenty of other ways that you can tap into the community in time for the holidays. If your friend is an armchair filmmaker, you can probably send a note to one of the film projects asking that your friend’s name gets listed in credits when you fund their film. Or get a song composed for your sweetheart by a musician. Or get a home-cooked dinner for two, probably also by a musician.

Seth Carne’s project, iheart poetics combines art, technology and social connection in an iPhone app that invites users to add text, magnetic poetry style, to images, Hipstamatic-style, and share them. So if you’re funding an iPhone app, what could you possibly get out of it beyond the app? Letterpress prints, a 30-page chapbook, or a mail art correspondence with the artist.

Brook Drum’s project Printrbot has received almost ten times the amount of his original $25,000 goal. What’s gotten people so jazzed? You can get a hand-crafted 3-D printer, or, if you don’t have $424, stuff made with said 3-D printer.

In the Kickstarter holiday spirit, I’ve made a quick song to help you navigate some of the possibilities. No, you don’t need to pledge a dollar, or $25, or $424. Although I wouldn’t turn it down.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:

Twelve drummers drumming,

Eleven typers typing,

Ten inflatable swords a-sweeping,

Nine ladies dancing,

Eight men a-milking,

Seven(teen hundred miles, almost) a-swimming,

Six ducks a-laying,

Five acrylic rings,

Four silken birds,

Three French hens,

Two turtles saved,

And a nifty little unfolding tree!

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