To see how the highly decentralized world of social media could disrupt the hegemony of established taste-makers in music, design, or fashion, look no further
than Kickstarter. Just like Wikipedia redefined the process of creating an encyclopedia, this poster child of the crowdfunding revolution could redefine how dreamers raise funds for their next gadget or film—and perhaps even beget a cultural renaissance.
All of this sounds beautiful in theory. Have a great idea for a new project? Simply sign up for Kickstarter and post a description (don’t forget to make a glitzy video in support), set your fundraising target and the deadline, create a panoply of rewards tied to various contributions (for instance, $5 might get you the new CD, but $5,000 would also get you a dinner with the musician), and spread the word about the campaign. If you meet the fundraising target, Kickstarter takes a 5 percent cut and the project goes ahead—if you don’t, no money changes hands. The platform is enjoying tremendous success: Earlier this year, one of its founders proclaimed—to some controversy—that in 2012 Kickstarter might distribute more money ($150 million) than the National Endowment for the Arts (its budget for the year is $146 million).
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