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    How Kickstarter Became Irrelevant To STEM
    By Hank Campbell | August 16th 2013 07:00 AM | 8 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0®.

    A wise man once said Darwin had the greatest idea anyone ever had. Others may prefer Newton or Archimedes...

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    I am making the call: despite all the buzz it is currently getting due to crowdsourced funding for lots of projects, by wading into the anti-technology culture war, I am predicting the demise of Kickstarter. 

    The people behind Kickstarter have declared that they are going to artificially pick the winners and losers of crowd funding and once that happens, the road to ruin is sure to follow. 

    The issue that set tripped them up is genetic modification technology - a glowing arabidopsis plant. There is nothing harmful in that gene, there is no Frankenlight, other than in the warped imaginations of people who don't know any biology anyway. But Kickstarter still reacted to claims among anti-biology reactionaries that Glowing Plant was "genetic pollution" and changed their terms to cripple future projects similar to it. The problem is that by changing their terms to penalize genetic technology, the brains behind Kickstarter have told everyone not only how they vote, but that they are more interested in cultural fads than science and technology.


    Credit and link: GlowingPlant.com

    As Virginia Postrel at Time magazine puts it, "The truth is that the company has picked sides. Instead of maintaining a neutral forum or hiring enough staff to screen projects one by one, Kickstarter has chosen to pander to fearmongers. With its blanket prohibition, it has betrayed the technologists who embraced it, promoted it and accounted for some of its most successful and profitable projects. It may be happy to take their money, but it isn't comfortable with their kind."

    Once your no-no list starts to grow-grow, you lose a whole lot of interest from people who take an ethical stand against authoritarianism - and that is a whole lot of techies.  This issue is only superficially biological science. The bigger issue is that a knee-jerk, uninformed response brings together libertarian and classical liberal people in science and technology - and it opens the door for other crowdfunding companies who are not interested in social engineering.

    I suspect IndieGogo couldn't be happier that Kickstarter has turned itself into a political football - they are in 'Frisco so there is an 85.1% chance they are also anti-biology, but here is hoping they are smart enough to keep it to themselves.

    Comments

    Stellare
    Yes, I agree with you that if Kickstarter starts to screen and judge politically the projects, then they are their way to stopping shop! That is a general statement.

    As long as projects are not breaching any law (that too could be tricky as laws are different in different countries, yes even in different states in the US) they should let people go about their business - so that they make business too.

    Oh, well!
    Bente Lilja Bye is the author of Lilja - A bouquet of stories about the Earth
    Really? People that vote DEM are anti-biology?

    Of course because you know how persuasive name calling arguments are in gaining converts or helping people understand the issues.

    Hank
    Who said that?  Not me. But if you live in San Francisco and voted for Nancy Pelosi, then either you are anti-biology or science is too unimportant to care about. 
    You pretty much said that.

    Republicans are not exactly known for being pro-science.

    Hank
    Right, but they are not the ones circling genetics with pitchforks and torches. If Kickstarter had chosen to overreact and penalize a global warming mitigation tool, I would make fun of the right-wingish-ness of those anti-science crackpots instead.
    Fair enough.

    I, for one, can't wait to see the hoopla around the THC-producing GM tomato plant IndieGogo campaign.

    Hank
    I'd give it 5 bucks just for the creativity. They can even call it THChimera, that will be my intellectual donation to the movement.