Crowd Sourcing and Kickstarter
As some of you may know – and some of you might have indeed taken part in this – my website 8limbs.us was made possible through crowd sourcing, specifically Kickstarter. The cost of the domain, a year of hosting and actually designing the website were all paid for by the generous donations of “backers,” some of whom I know personally, some who have been following my YouTube for years, and some people I don’t know at all who liked the idea. That range of contributions is really beautiful to me. I was politically active in middle and high school, storming the steps of the capital building in Denver, Colorado to demand better funding for public education and writing strongly-worded letters to state representatives at age 14, standing outside of the brand new Whole Foods to hand out literature to patrons regarding the risks of GMO’s and calling for public outcry when I was 13. That kind of thing.
The reason I bring it up is this: I have for a long time believed firmly in the concept of “voting with your dollar.” If you want to support local businesses or show alliance with grass-fed beef over Monsanto GMO corn-fed cattle, you do that by purchasing locally. If you think Nike is exploiting workers in sweatshops, buy a different brand of sneakers. And alternately if you like the idea of a how-to video for LARP-ing or think you friend Frank should have his own album for his mystic lute playing, you can show that support by throwing a couple bucks at a project and getting that CD pressed. That’s where the concept of crowd sourcing comes from – it’s the idea that people who are interested in something can actually take part in its realization. If you love the band you can buy the shirt, but with Kickstarter you can have more direct responsibility for how that shirt is made, designing it, getting the album art put on it, etc. It’s saying, “yeah, that’s a great idea – here’s a few bucks to help it happen.” It’s not about the money, it’s about connections and support. One of my biggest supporters for the website is a venture capitalist (“Mr. VC”) Stephen Noton. He was living in Bangkok at the time and read my campaign about wanting to start a website to host all my different social media at the time because I was about to move to Thailand to be a full-time fighter, a rare opportunity that I wanted to share as much of as possible. For Mr. Noton, $500 bucks is nothing huge, but to me, to my project, it was everything. It’s like giving $5 to a guy on the street. What’s $5 bucks? Well, that $5 means very different things to you versus the guy you’re giving it to – the real point is that it’s given to show support or compassion, because that transfer in meaning is bigger than the $5 that it actually “cost.”
Amanda Palmer, formerly of the Dresden Dolls, gave a very powerful TED Talk on the “Gift of Asking,” speaking largely on her use of Kickstarter to fund albums. I recommend you look at it.
A little bit ago I got a message from Dave Poyer, who is a backer for my website and is now running his own Kickstarter campaign to begin a line of “rash guard” apparel for contact sports. You can read his campaign to learn more about how that idea came to be, but there are a few things I really like about his proposed clothing.
First of all, I like that someone who actually lives in a gym and practices the sport is responsible for designing and creating a piece of clothing that I would count as “equipment.” Get ringworm a couple of times and you’ll start to consider these shirts a standard piece of necessary equipment. It’s hot in Thailand but I find myself wearing long-sleeved sport attire fairly often for a number of reasons: 1) I sweat a lot and actually get cold being soaked all the time despite tropical temperatures; 2) it’s a really easy cover from the sun on runs; and 3) there are people from all over the world coming in and out of the gym at all times and when you’re in contact with them under sweaty, humid, bare-skin conditions you can get ringworm or other rashes. I don’t dig that at all, so even though I’m not on the mat doing JiuJitsu or wrestling, the same piece of equipment that guards against staph and ringworm for those guys is the right piece of equipment to guard against it for me.
his kickstarter project video
Secondly, Dave’s designs are interesting. The long-sleeved shirts I have are just solid black, which was selected out of an option of one shirt in my size. I do pay attention to what shirts I wear in training, not for anyone else but for me – I wear Wolverine and Hulk t-shirts because they’re awesome, so I can see why wanting something similar on the shirt you wear in lieu of a cotton t-shirt would be desirable. And it seems like there isn’t a lot out there design-wise. A lot of these “rash guard” type shirts are worn under a Gi, under a shirt, or whatever. But watch any episode of The Ultimate Fighter and you’ll see that they’re worn as your uniform just as often, if not more. Why not put a design on it?
When I first talked to Dave about his image designs he mentioned old videogames. I grew up with Nintendo and Sega, but I was a hard-core Genesis girl. All my favorite games and references came from Genesis, until I got an education in Atari and stand-up arcade cabinet games in high school from my boyfriend, who owned and operated the best videogame store in town. I immediately thought of a shirt with a picture from Zero Wing, with a big “All your base are belong to us!” on it. I’d wear that everywhere. So I asked him about the image he has on the prototype so I could understand the reference and I loved his answer, so I’ll quote it here:
The front is a tip of the hat to the old Nintendo ‘Ice Climbers’ game, which requires its players to ascend increasingly larger mountains while encountering several surly over-sized creatures, namely a polar bear wearing undies who menacingly appears without a single sound and pounces on the mountain, causing all the lowest parts of the mountain to disappear into the abyss–often while you’re still down there. The game pretty much goes on endlessly, which always gave it an existential feel for me, I realized as a ten year-old that playing the game repeatedly meant I had to derive some value out of playing for myself, rather than other games where getting to the end or fighting the big boss was paramount.
Unlike most 8-bit games, this one scrolls vertically, and as you progress, you summit increasingly treacherous mountains, and speed and timing become more crucial. I feel like that’s an awesome metaphor for the fight game. Lots of people start. Most of them don’t make it to the highest levels. But at the end the game is really against yourself. The chances of getting out of the game at some point is 100%, but you keep going because you love it.
I love this “no-end game” idea for fighting. That there’s no “end guy” that you are working toward, the final obstacle that you’ve been building toward. Fighting is fighting; it’s a vertical scrolling game that can go on forever. It says more to me and about me than words like Tapout or Affliction, and giving my support to the creation of the kinds of things that speak to me feels good. I want more things like that.