If there is one thing that has dominated the myriad of conversations in marketing and branding terms the last year or so, it is the idea of online collaboration. Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding, there seemed to be alot of talking about what it might be, but very little getting involved and experimenting with it. I would readily admit that I have been one of those people. Until last month, when I got invovled with my very first Crowd-Funded project. I became a part of the Bucket Brigade, a collection of the super smart thinkers and doers from around the world who have come together to help create a book. One month in the experience is as fascinating, and potentially exciting as anything I’ve found and done on the web yet. Big words, but I’ll explain why I believe in them.
First, a bit of backstory, this project is the brainchild of Bud Caddell, current Strategy Director of Victor & Spoils, and the writer of ‘What Consumes Me’ (read the breakdown of the evolution of the Old Spice/W&K work and you’ll get the idea that it’s a pretty smart site) About a month and a bit ago, a tweet from Bud popped up on Tweetdeck, it was a link for the Bucket Brigade (working title) the rather charming codeword for what is was a crowdfunded, and collaborative experiment in writing a book. Bud was using Kickstarter to raise the funds. Kickstarter is still relatively new to the ‘crowd_____’ scene, but has generated alot of good press with it’s perky attitude, the ease with which you can kick start projects, and it’s transparency (Don’t raise the amount? All money gets refunded) Disapora was the first real hit off the site gathering over $200,000 dollars of funding in just under a month. Bud’s original target was for the relatively modest sum of $5,000. 372% funded and $18,591 later, 212 backers from all different job backgrounds and locations later are now Bucketeers, joining Bud on his journey.
There are a couple of things here that reveal the best of the collaborative web. Firstly, we now trust our networks to such a degree that we are more than willing to put down a fair wedge of $,£,€ to fund a project by someone who I have never met ‘in person’ and I would guess, neither have two thirds of the rest of the group. Secondly, how websites like Kickstarter have created a tone and attitude to their brand that takes the sting out of the concept of ‘crowdwhatever’, this is a much more than just spec work. Instead (of a perception) of many doing the heavy lifting for the few, there is a genuine exchange happening of skills and insight here. You feel like you are leaping off the edge of the poverbial cliff with the money, but the strength and trust in your network, gives you a reassuring foundation to the financial commitment. Conversely, once you’re into the commitment, the more you feel you have something useful to contribute, maybe not all the time, but enough for both the backers and the funded to gain out of that expertise. You achievements, the milestones become shared. This helps explain the colleigiate tone that has so far guided the project. (I sit in the second ‘tier’ – the editoral board, range of interesting people in this space is IMMENSE, and we get to see all the emails and questions arising from the project)
Personally, I hope to gain valuable experience across all these fields, and from all these people, that will help me become better at what I do. This sounds selfish, but what I find very engaging is that I gain, and the collective gains from this shared knowledge, and Bud gets to write a book that he is genuinely passionate about. It’s about as close to a win-win-win as you get. Already the quality and depth of the conversations has at times enlightened me, and others bamboozled me. If you want to stretch your brain and see the web not just as a marketing or branding tool, but as an innovative and definitive orgainsing principle for companies around the world, then it looks like this might be the spot to do that. The project mirrors some of these embryonic principles. I’ve put together a Twitter list of the editorial board, while @Malbonster has another bigger list here. I recommend that you follow these lists, as the smartness you will accrue is worth the effort. Finally, here’s to all my fellow Bucketeers may we enjoy the journey, and be proud that we have kickstarted a potentially great project, and by doing that, bought a little bit more awesomeness to the web!