CFI – Please share with us how your site came into existence from idea to a live site. Who were the principles involved?
Goteo – Goteo.org comes from a long period of research and co-design, where
Platoniq (a collective of cultural activists, open source practitioners and Internet researchers) started to compare back in 2010 several initiatives for giving monetary support online to different people and causes. From microcredit sites like Kiva to P2P lending and emerging crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. We focused on a hypothesis such as how compatible is crowdfunding with crowdsourcing or crowdbenefits, all from the point of view, and the
lessons learned, from the open source world.
Initially we begun to put things into practice by organizing meetings and workshops where communities of practice, potential project leaders, backers and institutions could help us to validate ideas and also discover values and interesting things to develop.
After that we started to write code with the central idea of openness and collaboration in mind. Not only replicating some features of crowdfunding as many other sites have done, but adding concepts like optimum and minimum costs needed, transparency about them, petitions for collaborations as well as monetary help, and specially the need to identify and propose some valuable collective reward apart from individual ones (mainly through copyleft and libre licenses of digital goods that can afterwards create social capital, more collaborations, and opportunities for learning, etc).
CFI – The difficult economy in Spain has been covered quite a bit in the
international press. How do you see Crowdfunding, in general, playing
a role in aiding the economy?
Goteo – We think it’s quite an interesting moment for crowdfunding here. Like in the rest of Europe there’s a big need of more legal framework from institutions in order to encourage the development of this field, as it starts to show it can be an additional or complementary tool for entrepreneurship, social opportunities, culture and other fields like research, education, etc. But there’s also an interpretation from some public entities, responsible until now – for funding different types of initiatives in different ways. This can represent a positive or a step back, since crowdfunding, as it is now, can represent an opportunity for projects with small scale or with good modularity. But this is not a substitute for public money. There’s plenty of opportunity mixing both logic and worlds, but not for the new one to be the alternative by itself to the previous one when it comes to public money and public interest. However, in the background of course there’s people, communities and civil interest in crowdfunding as a tool for generating projects that really matter, especially when it comes to generating viable alternatives in different fields (projects with social, cultural, scientific, educational, technological, or ecological objectives) that generate new opportunities for the improvement of society and the enrichment of community goods and resources.
CFI – How has your site been received by the Spanish population. Are specific demographics more interested in Crowdfunding?
We’re now receiving campaign proposals from all places in Spain but also some from Latin America. From communities very active online to (surprisingly) others apparently more disconnected – but that can manage at the end to reach their people and goals. However, the local aspect we think is critical and that’s why our design is based on creating independent/autonomous nodes of Goteo, empowered by other people and institutions that match our goals of openness and transparency. The first of these local nodes is already working two months ago now in the Basque Country, and we are now in conversations to help partners establish other ones in other regions of Spain and other European countries.
CFI – How has the Spanish Government reacted to your site?
The Minister of Culture has helped us in co-funding initial steps of the project, as well as some in Catalan and local institutions in Barcelona.
CFI – How do you see Crowdfunding evolving in Spain?
I think Crowdfunding will have to deal (as probably in other countries) with a natural evolution of crowdfunding that does not focus only on individual benefit but more on collective ones. We’re validating that every day, observing the most interesting threads in campaigns which offer ways for people to collaborate in what they want or like to do. Where important goals are shared and represent opportunities to others, and where there is transparency in critical parts of the platform and the processes. Adding the possibility of sharing calls for projects and feeder capital with public or private institutions, as well as letting virtual and alternative currencies play a role in the system, will be a good evolution of it all (or at least in what we’re working right now 🙂