Image from Pozible site for “Colin the Dog’s Fabulous Midnight Adventure”, the 1st project I ever supported through crowdfunding

I crashed a digital industries subject recently. It was the second last week of term, and the students really looked like they were over the semester and, indeed, the year.

The subject had a guest speaker, which was why I was there.

That guest speaker was Rick Chen, co-founder of Pozible, Australia’s first and biggest crowdfunding site.

I went in my professional capacity as a research developer, someone who’s meant to be hunting down ways for researchers to fund their work, but what I got out of it – quite unexpectedly – was the most inspiring seminar I’ve been to…possibly ever.

Is that too grand a claim? I feel a bit embarrassed to say it.

I was talking to my colleague, Jonathan, afterwards about this, and I said that I was never inspired in this way by any of the lectures and tutes I attended in my entire undergrad and Honours years. I valued and enjoyed a lot of my classes (admittedly, sometimes only after years of revisiting and contemplating worldview-challenging concepts), but I had never left one buzzing with all possibilities and fired up to pitch myself once more into another stream of study/training.

I already have too many pieces of paper. I’ve graduated with a BA, Hons, MA and PhD. Surely that’s enough for anyone? Especially now, with a mortgage, full-time day-job, two young kids…it’s a special kind of madness one must have that would even contemplate dropping another significant thing on the pile.

What was it about this seminar that drew such a reaction?

1. It was about a platform and idea that I love. Crowdfunding, and Pozible specifically, is something I’ve backed ever since I heard about it. Most of the projects I’ve supported I’ve heard about through Twitter, and almost all of them have been associated with Asian Australian creative types. Most of them made it, and fabulous projects came to fruition.

I’m very grateful for the rewards I’ve received – one was a limited edition Matt Huynh print, another is a Jackie Chan fan-art t-shirt by Maria Tran (courtesy of her Quest for Jackie Chan project). Most recently, I helped Mayu Kanamori and her team travel to an Indonesian film festival to be there for the screening of her project, Chika: A Documentary Performance.

2. As Rick was explaining about the mechanisms of crowdfunding and how projects gained momentum, I sat there thinking, “Yes, I know this! I’m excited to know the way of these things.” Since embracing Twitter and being much more involved in social media, I’ve realised that it’s a form that I ‘get’ quite easily. Its dynamics seem natural to me, and it appears that my years of dabbling in chatrooms and lists, hanging in MOOs and MUSHes, and immersing myself in instant messaging have honed my digital communication skills well.

Being able to call on these skills when we were establishing The Research Whisperer’s readership and Twitter profile was fabulous, and I feel confident in the medium in a way that I don’t about many things I do in life!

Since the seminar, I’ve been thinking through a few things. One of them is career planning, something I’ve been remiss in doing thus far (believe it or not).

Another is the transformation that things like crowdfunding brings about in the creative and community sector. Having been involved in shoestring events and organisations most of my working life, I can see how a little does go a very long way. A groundswell of material support could make a huge difference to what gets done. I’m gleeful with anticipation about it all.