There are currently two competing projects out there that are changing the face of crowdfunding as we know it. The first is a citizen effort to create a civilian version of a tremendously powerful militarized space station (the petition put forward to the White House for such an item was rejected) — with a promise that it not be capable of destroying planets at this time. The latter, calls for the production of a fleet of military aircraft to use in the eventuality that the former crowdfunding initial effort breaks the no-planet-destroying-death-ray promise.
Yes, we are talking Star Wars, and yes these are actual real-world crowdfunding efforts currently underway, though both are tens of millions short of being funded at present. But the existence of these projects brings up an interesting question. Crowdfunding has been successfully implemented in the past many times to support the production of products that are by nature satirical and whimsical, or as in the case of The Oatmeal/Funny Junk fight as a parody stunt to raise awareness of what an artist felt was poor behavior on the part of a content hosting business on the Internet. But what happens when these platforms are used to crowdfund the production of real world versions of imaginary machines, and are successfully funded when the idea is really popular even when the project itself is evil-mad-scientist-grade bonkers?
Well, these projects won’t be funded — that’s part of the joke — but it does cause one to wonder what would happen if every Star Wars true believer (and everyone who thinks it might be funny to support the funding of a science fiction solution to a real world problem) pitched in. While there are no end to stories of crowdfunding efforts whose producers cannot deliver the proposed project, what if a crowd of really smart folks from the Adafruit community got together and…well…followed through?
Here’s a fun write up from Huffington Post that draws together a bit of the story behind these projects:
The original ‘open source’ Death Star Kickstarter was itself started in response to the White House’s denial of a 35,000-strong petition to build the unimaginably powerful space station on the grounds that it did not support blowing up planets.
“In November 2012 the people asked for a death star. The government said NO! In light of continuing threats we should build it ourselves,” the Death Star project’s leaders said.
Gnut.co.uk are asking for £20 million, as the down payment on an eventual bill of around £542 quadrillion.
They add that their design would include enough chicken wire to stop any attempt to destroy it in the manner achieved by Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies.
But their protestations of building the weapon for the common good were not accepted by all, leading to the creation of the open-source Rebel Alliance and their project to build an X-Wing.
On Feb 5, 2013, www.gnut.co.uk, whom we believe to be a subversive tactics unit of the evil Galactic Empire, launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdsource a Death Star. At first, we laughed.
When we stopped laughing (because it kind of hurt, how hard we were laughing) we realized that it was an ingenious plot by the Empire to use the power of the people against us!
We can’t let this new Death Star go unchallenged, so we’re raising funds to form a new Rebel Alliance and construct a fleet of proton torpedo armed X-Wing fighters to take down this new Death Star.
So far they have raised just over £100,000 – and add that one of their future updates will include “iPhone and Siri integration”.
Both projects remain unfunded as of press time.
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