Kick It

I am notorious as a stingy bastard. This has several causes:

-my monthly income rarely breaks quadruple digits

-when I do indulge myself, I wish to purchase something that will bring happiness for a long time to come; I would rather have a bare shelf made of honest oak than an Ikea pasteboard shelf strewn with pearls

-there’s a library a block and a half from my house

-there’s a torrent coming right to my computer

-I was raised in even more limited circumstances, and shall probably always act as if the poorhouse is just behind – and gaining

-whoever dies with the most, wins


As a result, it is a rare day when I purchase anything of substance. A rare week. A rare month. Nor do I purchase anything which can be gotten, safely and easily, for free. I have not paid for any Ms – music, movies, manuscripts, microcode – in years, and have only paid for seats – to see an M live – with the kind of infrequency one usually associates with an electoral cycle. In Uzbekistan.

At the same time, I am head-over-heels in love with Kickstarter. The ability to gain funding from a wide audience has many benefits, but that is not the aspect which particularly appeals to me. What Kickstarter really represents is a marketplace for things that don’t exist yet. It’s not just crowd funding; it’s prior funding. It allows the consumer to not just steer the ship, but determine its course; and it allows the supplier to assure a certain number of sales before even beginning production – minimizing risk, incentivizing innovation, all the buzzwords, wonderful.

I realize that, as a consumer, there are three reasons why I would support a Kickstarter:

1) Doing so allows me access to something that I otherwise would not have, or would otherwise cost me more.

2) Doing so lets me support something that I truly believe in – this kind of charity is not unknown to me, but between poverty and intellectual opposition I try not to indulge in it but rarely.

3) Doing so assures that something will exist which otherwise would not – rather the combination of numbers 1 and 3.

To me, then, as a consumer, the ideal Kickstarter would provide:

1) Something that I want.

2) Something that I could not get for free.

3) Something that would be harder or more expensive to get thereafter

4) The sure knowledge that my money is making a difference in allowing something to exist which otherwise would not

5) The warm fuzzy glow that my dollars are of benefit to the community

To satisfy #1, it would have to be something new, something practical to my life (that is to say, it would have to fit in a small apartment), and show a good balance of pleasure provided with cost outpaid. Just as with any other good or service I might acquire.

To satisfy #2, it (most likely) cannot be one of the Four Ms. The exception to this is if my support will provide me with something tangible – that is to say, non-downloadable – in addition. Otherwise, why pay for what can be gotten for free? I’m a capitalist, man!

To satisfy #3, I need to be assured that it’s, in general, a good deal. That is the old adage of the consumer: you can get things fast, cheap, or in good condition – pick any two. At this point in my life, I will always opt for waiting longer in order to get something cheaper, or wait for the thing I really want. I hope to always have the luxury of time – it allows one to have more total luxuries, and for what one settles on to be particularly luxurious. The problem here is the knowledge that many things being sold on Kickstarter will, a year later, be available much more cheaply.

To satisfy #4, I must be assured that my very support of the thing is necessary for it to exist at all. While I will not pay $20 for the DVD of a movie already made, there are certain films for which I would spend $30 to see them made at all. Possibly even more. Untapped potential!

And, let’s face it, #5 is just icing on the cake.

As a result, there are very few Kickstarter projects that get me to open my wallet. Most Kickstarters are tied to a locality where I am not. Most that aren’t involve downloadable content – Ms are such big money because a billion people could buy them in a day – for which I will only pay if the the ‘starter is a mere one contribution shy of its goal – a rare occurrence. And really, at the end of the day, I’m poor, and bored, and hard to please… and full well do I know that the second of those things is likely to be alleviated only by something which would reverse the first of them, rather than exacerbate it.

Really, I’m just a very poor consumer.

But I don’t wish to be! I want to want nice things! I want to revel in the opportunities of the world. I want to encourage ingenuity. I want to have fun! I want not to look back on my twenties and think them sodden and sedentary – however productive, whatever the limitations which caused them to be.

So I’m going to sit down, now, and think of some examples of projects that I should actually want to Kickstart.

This might degenerate into me brainstorming potential business ventures or futuristick technologies.

I’m okay with that.


-A user-friendly GUI-frontended toolset for the creation of adventure games. (Conversely, a usable and maintained GUI for Adventure Game Studio)

-Print It Forward. It’s a sticker-making service whereby you upload a graphic and they print you a certain number of stickers (bumper, laptop, etc). However, for every sticker you order, they also send you one which someone else uploaded. The possibilities – for voting on most popular stickers, all the way to hiring out advertising space – are limitless!

-Will It Damascus? A service which takes household items (etc.) and sees if they can be made out of pattern-welded steel. So many can! AND IS SO PRETTY.

-An easy custom bookbinding service. Got a book you want bound? No sweat! Page one: give us the dimensions of the book! Page two: what kind of binding? Page three: other fun options! Page four: price!

-Bluetooth Spicerack. A series of small jars on a stand. Each jar has a way of “reporting” when it’s empty – maybe they’re on little scales that weigh them once a day. The stand has a wifi chip. Every time one runs low, it tells you… or even better, places an automatic order to an etailer and before you know it there’s a sachet of oregano coming through your mail slot.

Cinematizations of certain novels. Within, of course, restraints: I might be more likely to donate towards an adaptation with a $1,000,000  budget than one with a paltry $100,000 budget. I would also pay good money to keep Uwe Boll away from my favorite books – a kickstarter in itself! But that aside, here are some books which I would pay to see made into a movie. Or a miniseries.

(I am going to score each from one to five dollar signs, representing what part of my net worth I would give to allow such a film to happen)

$$$$$Farewell Great King, by Jill Paton Walsh

$$$Dreadnought (that is, the men who made the great war), by Robert K Massie

$$$$Q, by Luther Blissett

$Sandman comics

$$Eastern Approaches, the memoirs of Fitzroy Maclean

$$$$Mossflower, by Brian Jacques

$$$Danny The Champion Of The World, by Roald Dahl

$$$$$Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

$$$$Zodiac, by Neal Stephenson

$$Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

$A biopic about Subhas Chandra Bose

$A biopic about Talleyrand

$$$The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber (biopic about Attila Ambrus), by Julian Rubinstein

$$$$$Escape from the Future, by Vladimir Petrov

$$$Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell

$$$Going Solo, by Roald Dahl

$$$$Nine Princes in Amber, by Roger Zelazny

$$$$$Gateway, by Frederick Pohl

$$$$$Hyperion, by Dan Simmons

$$$The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers

$$$A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller Jr.

$$$Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

$$$Neuromancer, by William Gibson

$$$$$Myst: The Miniseries (think about it. AWESOME.)

$$The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (that promised not to SUCK)

$$Bringing back Firefly (I’m sure I’m not the only one)








-Sequels to the following computer games (likewise marked):

$$$$$Planescape: Torment. This might be one of the only projects which I would back even if my money was not necessary. And ain’t that a fucking kick in the head. (I also have a binder full of notes on the daydreams I have had as to what this game might entail. It’s a binder full of women. Who are, in Planescape fashion, mostly full of hatred / strong beer / a desire for revenge / ennui / extraplanar pharmaceuticals / broken-off spear heads / the half-digested flesh of their enemies / Kentucky Fried Pit Fiend. See upcoming post for more upon this theme.)

$$$$Riven. Not a successor, however exemplary, to Myst; a successor to Riven, which calls Myst III-V non-canon and attempts to present you with puzzles organic to the world, rather than contrived by artifice.

$$Grim Fandango 2. I would have eagerly supported the DoubleFine Adventure – had not they broken their goals within about an hour of starting :)

-Distributed comic artists. Artist posts a few examples of their work & their fee scale (with suggestions by the service, which draws a manageable commission). Got a four-page comic you want drawn? Pick your artist and they’ll draw it for you! Got a 600-page graphic novel you want hand-painted? You got the money, we got the talent!

-The Restaurant Passport. You go to a web site and fill out your preferences, from allergies to how you like your steak cooked to whether you prefer tables or booths. Go to a restaurant, they scan your card, they suddenly know your tastes! Could have other levels, such as tying you to what kind of wines you prefer, how you rate restaurants… even restaurant-side info like how well you tip. Presumably this could function very well with a phone app.

-The virtual graffiti project! An augmented reality application whereby small encoded glyphs – think QR code – are placed on walls around a city. People who use this app can then tag the wall with whatever they want – point-and-drag graffiti, photoshoop on the home computron – and whenever someone looks through their phone at that particular glyph, that is what they will see. People could bid for what art goes where. People could buy spaces for a certain period of time. People could vote on what goes where. People could cycle through different graffiti for a given wall – or create entire world-sets with given themes; in short, augment-reality the world. Nonprofit applications abound. As do advertising applications. Also for-profit.

-Self-contained devices are delight with a single power cord. We have bread-makers and coffee-makers. What else can we have? WELL:

—A self-contained homebrewing setup. You put in the ingredients – best, put them into different chambers, the machine will add them at the right time as programmed – and it will do the rest, ye unto bottling or casking.

—A self-contained distillation setup. Really wouldn’t be that high-tech. Better yet, it would go really well with the homebrewing setup above! Water + sugar and eventually you’ve got rum – AMAZING!

—Home jacquard looms! Got a 3D printer? Now get a tapestry printer! Put on spools of colored yarn, upload a bitmap – Bayeux Tapestry to order!

—Towards the creation of a digitally programmable olfactory interface. Your headphones let you send tones to your ears. Your monitor lets you send colors and shapes to your eyes. Why not a box that sends scents to your nose? I imagine it would be a few hundred little (refillable) vials of scent in a little box, each vial with a valve on top. By changing how much each valve opens (pipe organ for the schnozz!) and putting in a little airflow, you could play a symphony on your nose. This could range from being able to smell gardenias along with your alarm clock; to playing around with making your own perfume; to hooking up scents to things like movies and video games (that dragon smells like brimstone! that fairy princess smells like Chanel Number Five!).


…I shall add to this list as inspiration strikes


~ by davekov on 19 October 2012.

One Response to “Kick It”

  1. […] random blogger. Nicely put; not many people think like […]

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