nettime's_mod_squad on Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:26:37 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> crowd-funding on nettime

Hi, Nettimers --

It should come as no surprises that over the last few years, a growing
number of people have sent crowd-funding announcements to this list.
It hasn't been a steady rise, and the frequency is hardly significant
-- one every few months at most. But, amidst a global trend of funding
cuts in arts and culture settings, it seems likely that we'll see
more. Some of them will be very deserving. Some.

We try to bring a very light hand to moderating nettime, but these
requests raise interesting questions. The list has over four thousand
subscribers now. We assume -- we don't really know -- that you cut
across an unusually wide range of contexts, practices, and
geographies. Be that as it may, crowd-funding is a creature of the
'social networking' phenomenon, and particularly sensitive to the
numbers game. In order to succeed, people seeking funding really have
to *work* their social networks to monetize them. Maybe this list's
subscriber base transcends a few degrees of separation in mainstream
social networks, in which case the list could be an excellent vehicle
for promoting requests; maybe those networks just recapitulate our
own, in which case it would be a waste of time.

If there were a slowly growing trend of people using nettime as a
venue to distribute straightforward requests for money and we simply
passed them on, it'd surely raise a few eyebrows. We recognize that
sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, by serving as a 'transparent'
reporteur of real-time funding results, can introduce many positive
dynamics into the fund-raising process. But we also know that they've
given rise to their own forms of opacity: people seeding and
completing their own funding efforts, and, no doubt, kickbacks in some
cases. We're not entirely sure that dignifying funding requests with a
brand-name site and the buzzword 'crowd' is really so different from
just asking for money in a publicly networked context.

On the other hand, nettime's subscriber base has long been associated
with some of the central themes that define 'alt' cultural practices
-- if not exactly 'DIY' as it's often used today, at least a wide
variety independent cultural and technical practices. On that basis,
one could argued that nettime should adapt and, at a minimum, actively
*support* these kinds of funding requests. Or, one could argue the
opposite: that nettime has always resisted attempts (feeble as they
were) to monetize its network; that it has always sustained an economy
of non-monetary generosity; and that it should resist this attempt to
monetize the social as well.

Or, perhaps we should draw a line somewhere -- but where?

We, the moderators, don't know, and in any case *we* shouldn't decide.
So we thought we'd put these questions to you.

Nettime's Mod Squad
     Ted Byfield and Felix Stalder

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