☆ Want You To Know: Crowdfunding Rich White Guys

Crowdfunding Grows Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks for crowdfunding. Octopus Raft gave some enraged backers a salutary lesson in what exactly crowdfunding was. Perhaps more importantly it showed what crowdfunding wasn’t, or at least not yet. Funding using this model does not equal investment. Don’t expect a return proportional to the amount you put in when your darling pet project is acquired by some industry behemoth. Expect to get exactly what you were told you would receive when you funded the project.

Still, some investing maxims can be applied to crowdfunded projects. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. The ongoing fuss over GoBe from HealthBe proves this.

Over to David Ahn, writing on imedicalapps.com

Therein lies the problem with crowd-funding platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. There is little or no accountability when it comes to these projects.

More troubling, Indiegogo allows for flexible funding campaigns, which delivers your money to the project owners at the time of initial pledge, even if the campaign does not meet its goal. While the GoBe project far surpassed its goal, all initial investors would have been out of their money even if the project did not reach resolution.

As such, all $630k that has been contributed to GoBe is non-refundable at this time, and users are not able to re-gather their money unless the project owner permits.

Always read the small print, although in this brave new world that may not be enough. Indiegogo’s response to Pando showing evidence of what might well be fraud seems to have been to delete their anti-fraud guarantee.

Rich White Guys Update

‘one used to be a dude, one’s super small, one’s hyper-smart’

This is how Rich White Guy Elon Musk described his information security team in some sort of weird attack on satire / defence of humourlessness.

At around the same time one of the Koch brothers took to the editorial pages in the Wall Street Journal to explain what a hard time Rich White Guys were having right now.

Steve Jobs, one of the greatest Rich White Guys ever displayed a rather poor choice of words in a 2010 email which featured a bullet point “2011: Holy War with Google”. Them’s fightin’ words alright.


Read Before You Write

NPR pulled a rather magnificent April Fools’ prank on the stream-twits. These are the people who don’t actually read anything that appears in their Facebook stream apart from the headline, but immediately crack their knuckles and get stuck into posting comments. On the article they haven’t read.


‘The Guilt Of The Video-Game Millionaires

But for many of these young game-maker millionaires, who created their work out of a passion for play rather than prospecting, the wealth and attention can be jarring. In February, Dong Nguyen, the creator of Flappy Bird, a recent iOS game that had inexplicably risen to the top of the App Store charts, stopped selling his game even though it earned him an estimated fifty thousand dollars a day.

The Internet Of Slang

Gawker has banned it. “We want to sound like regular adult human beings, not Buzzfeed writers or Reddit commenters.” Zing! Take that, Buzzfeed writers.

Meanwhile, the-toast.net offers some suggestions for even more Internet slang. Carrie Jewett’s tongue may be slightly in her cheek.

Totally Confused, Weekend Longreads Edition

The Dead Zoo Gang, The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan, The Corporate PR Industry’s Sneaky War On Internet Activism, The Woman Behind Apple’s First Icons and an Excerpt from the Winds of Winter.

☆ Want You To Know: Whatever Happened To ‘Winter Is Coming’?

Game of Thrones returns for it's fourth season this weekend. It seems old habits die hard and 'sexposition' is still an important narrative device. If you've forgotten what's happened up until now, here's a decent recap. As that one is in traditional text format, for good measure here's a recap that uses emoji. 14 most brutal deaths in Game of Thrones as 8-bit GIFs. And finally, 'If The Media Reported The Events Of "Game Of Thrones"'.


Crowdfunding game of the day: Kickstarter simulator 2015.

Glass is 'merely descriptive', so no patent for you, Google. At least not yet. Yelp reviews might be a bit dodgy. As if that possibility has never occurred to anyone before.

At the start of this week I had heard the name James Franco, but didn't really know who he was. Then the Internet told me he was mostly a creep, and who was I to disagree? Now, at the end of this week it turns out he just has some product to promote.

Local flavour alert. An Irish Farmer's Journal piece about the County Kildare geep is spreading rapidly ('going viral', as many twits are still fond of saying).

To Ponder, Or Not To Ponder?

Very Important Documentary Film

'Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?' [YT]

Art Corner

George Bush paints other world leaders.

JENNA: You think you got to the soul of you?

GEORGE: You're going to have to ask other people who know me better, such as yourself. This is an improvement of the first one I did of myself.

'Two Monks Invent Renaissance Art'

Totally Confused, Mostly Long Video Edition

Books versus movies, Tyrion Lanister slapping Joffrey for ten hours, shrinking women, Hurtigruten timelapse, and fifty years of James Bond.

Cover version of the day: 'Wave of Mutilation', Kristin Hersh

☆ Want You To Know: Underground Overground

Internets Updates

Lego, Tool of Satan.

Brendan Eich has previous form in giving money to fringe right-wing groups.

Mike Judge's new show about Silicon Valley culture is called, umm, 'Silicon Valley'. Warning: that article is likely to bring back memories of the awfulness that was the Randi Zuckerberg-produced 'Start-Ups: Silicon Valley'.

Bottom half of the Internet highlight of the day #1: 'The Economist' publishes a nice profile remembering Frankie Knuckles. Commenters start to squabble amusingly over the origins of jazz.

Bonus Frankie Knuckles from 1986 [YT].

Bottom half of the Internet highlight of the day #2: How to explain Bitcoin to a visiting alien.

Well, what we do is we take some black rocks or gas and burn it to boil water, or we flood an area and run water through a small spot, this is all so we get these magnets to turn even if they don't want to. Then we bake sand in to very intricate shapes, which also takes a lot of that fresh-squeezed magnet juice we were talking about earlier. So you put all that magnet-juice in to the sand, and you get certain numbers, and these numbers can be exchanged for food because… well as you can see the numbers are really hard to get! So we figure they must be worth a lot of food.

Worth Pondering


According to the Irish Sun, the end may be nigh for TV3. Probably hastened by the impending appearance of a better-funded competitor in the shape of UTV Ireland. Of course, TV3 have been quick to deny this.

Irish media and development agencies, please stop cramming 'Silicon Valley' into soundbites and headlines. We've had fifteen years of it and it really hasn't happened yet.

Totally Confused

FiveThirtyEight.com has a look at the Bechdel Test, Bebo has a video messaging app and it is called Blab, The Gish Gallop, Washington D.C. snowy owl flies again after successful wing repair and digital dinosaurs.

Today's recommended version of David Bowie's 'Heroes / Helden' is by Nena [YT]

☆ Want You To Know: It’s Safe To Come Out Now

It’s Safe To Come Back Out Now

April Fool’s day has thankfully passed without any major casualties. Disappointingly The Onion still refuse to publish only actual news stories on April Fool’s day.

To celebrate surviving April Fool’s day, I recommend playing this highly topical and informative clicking game that will tell you everything you need to know about Bitcoin. Then have a giggle at this journo who was caught looking at dogs on the Internet when he should have been looking at footballers.

Many people have been in this meeting [YT], which is doing the rounds at the moment. People who have not been in that meeting may suspect that it’s an April Fool’s prank. It isn’t. It is horrifyingly accurate.

Keep Your Bible Close To Your Crest

Someone went on a crashing spree through whatever it is Trinity has decided to call itself and then proceeded up Dawson Street, with continued crashing all the while. There were inevitable rumours that the perpetrator may have been upset at the university’s decision to remove the bible from its crest as part of the rebranding. This has to be unlikely, but you can’t keep a good rumour down.

What was also notable was the difficulty some media outlets had in even roughly estimating how old the front gates of Trinity actually are. Hint: it’s not 1500 years.

Known Unknowns

A properly long read, ‘The Certainty Of Donald Rumsfeld from the New York Times. Part 1, 2, 3, 4.

For more long reads and different opinions, keep an eye on Buzzfeed Ideas which has only just launched but looks like it could be an interesting part of the Buzzfeed project.


The Matrix is 15 years old. I actually would have guessed it came out longer ago than that.

Gmail is 10 years old.

Totally Random, Food Edition

Kit-Kats you bake, burgers you smash, ranch dressing you can swim in, pizza for breakfast and general food eye-candy.

Bonus KitKat. (This one’s about Android, not chocolate.)

Today’s recommended version of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes / Helden’ is by Andrea Schroeder [YT].

☆ Want You To Know: More Cats Than Expected

Somehow, this ended up with much more feline involvement than originally planned. Guaranteed not to happen again until at least some time next week.

Well Played, Metro, Well Played

Medical first as cats are found to pass TB on to their owners

This Can’t Possibly End Well

Things To Ponder

Relevant: long list of facts about cats, compiled by (who else) Buzzfeed.

Why did this sad remix of Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ take so long to appear?

Inscrutable To Most, Headlines Department

It occurred to me that plenty of the headlines I scan daily would probably have made no sense twenty years ago. Here’s a selection (which are all worth reading, I hasten to add).

Mobile Malware Mines Dogecoins and Litecoins for Bitcoin Payout

The coin-mining apps discussed above were found outside of the Google Play store, but we have found the same behavior in apps inside the Google Play store. These apps have been downloaded by millions of users, which means that there may be many Android devices out there being used to mine cryptocurrency for cybercriminals.

Lichdom: Battlemage’s powerful spells channel Borderlands and Dark Souls

Xaviant’s vision for Lichdom is to deliver a game in which the mage isn’t always the “glass cannon” in the back, the fellow that’s capable of doing massive damage but then gets fragged if something dangerous so much as looks his way.

Facebook recruits NASA boffins for robot drone fleet, laser comms lab

The Connectivity Lab plans to use solar-powered drones and satellites fitted with communications gear to relay internet access to areas of medium and low population density, along with new laser-based technologies to create a high-bandwidth transmission network.

Good stuff, right?

Longer Reads

‘Cos it’s almost the weekend.

‘Billionaire Ball’ by Matt Hinton. The excesses of sports departments in US universities. The figures involved are staggering.

Malcolm Harris skewers what he describes as “Actually Journalism”. FiveThirtyEight.com and Vox.com are his primary targets. More criticism of FiveThirtyEight from climate scientists.

What Seems To Be The Problem Here? is the latest instalment in n+1’s series of investigative pieces on Amazon. Ruth Curry of Emily Books gives a lot of insight into what Amazon has done to not just the publishing business but the entire online retailing industry. The prospect of the drones becomes ever more terrifying.

If you’re a millionaire model, YOU TOO can get government funding for your barely fleshed out charity idea. Lily Cole managed to get £200,000 from the Cabinet Office in the UK for a goods and services exchange website whose only currency is love, or thanks, or rainbows, or something.

It’s not unusual for wealthy celebrities, particularly in the fashion world, to support good causes or have whimsical hobbies. What makes Impossible.com highly unusual is that it received support from the taxpayer. And nobody seems quite sure why.

House ♫

The trailer [YT] for forthcoming documentary The House That Chicago Built is worth a look if you enjoy seeing a lot of normally garrulous types lost for words. The film itself is directed by Lil Louis incidentally.

Totally Confused

We demand a hot dog emoji, an end to chemical warfare in the swimming pool, no more bling bishops, less rubbish on the mountain and more bad Reddit AMAs.

☆ Want You To Know: Reality TV Revelations?

An article widely circulated recently was billed as being revelatory. The big reveal was that a generous proportion of reality TV is actually scripted.

Had this genuinely not occurred to a lot of people before now? It’s decades since The Real World debuted on MTV. The unreality of the reality of these shows has become more obvious with every passing year.

Charlie Brooker explains how a lot of it is done. Editing.

Meeja Pondering

This has been pretty apparent for the last while. There’s less decent reporting being done. Pretty soon there may not be much left to aggregate and curate that’s of any quality. Thus squeezing the market for aggregation services.

Of course, in future all news is going to be written by robots.

In fact, the BBC may already have deployed some robot sub-editors.

Quote Of The Day

Imagine being described as a wanker by Bono. I do not believe I am exaggerating when I say it would be like your dog standing up on its hind legs in your kitchen one day and suddenly laughing at you for being a dog.


Totally Confused, Somewhat Sartorial Edition

Kim Jong-Un haircuts, smart watch chic, Facebook for your face, homeopathy may contain traces of medicine and cartoon faces

☆ Want You To Know: Techno-JOY


From the latest Snowden revelations relating to Huawei it would seem the NSA has expanded fully into corporate espionage. Bruce Schneier thinks IBM may be telling porkies about what they did and didn’t hand over to the NSA. Although the US government is at least making a belated attempt to do a smidgen of face-saving.

If all that gets you down a bit, have a look at Eddie Izzard explaining techno-JOY [YT]. Hacking and back doors covered.


If true happiness it is you seek, you’ll find it in the clergy, apparently. Whatever you do, don’t have anything to do with Silicon Valley, unless you fancy being over the hill and miserable at 35.

Often the discrimination comes veiled in that vaguest of tech-world concepts: culture. One recent trend in Silicon Valley recruiting is for job candidates to interview with a programmer at their level or below after they’ve cleared every other bar in the hiring process. Ostensibly, the point is to make sure a candidate meshes with the whole team, a perfectly noble impulse. In practice, it’s frequently a tool for weeding out older applicants.

When the VC money dries up again, the bursting bubble certainly isn’t going to be pretty.

economies that embrace the Silicon Valley model writ large—throwing massive amounts of money at highly speculative investments—are suspiciously bubble-prone.

Stunningly Unsurprising Stats Of The Day

Twitter has a slight spam problem, and an overall difficulty in getting users to, em, use the damn service.

about half of the accounts registered in 2014 have been suspended by Twitter likely because the accounts were spam, compared to 28% in 2012.

In all, roughly 500 million registered accounts have been suspended since Twitter was born.

Twitter have also quietly killed off Twitter Music. Nobody will really notice because nobody was really using it. Pretty much.

Incidental History Lesson

On this day in 1911 the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in Greenwich Village, New York City caught fire. Over one hundred and forty workers lost their lives. The death toll was so high because at least one exit had been locked, as was common practice at the time.

The fire was instrumental in launching the modern labour movement in the US.

For the last ten years, on the anniversary of the fire, volunteers have installed ‘Chalk’ across the city. They inscribe the names and ages of the victims of the fire outside their former homes.
There’s lots more information on the fire in this PBS centenary piece and at Wikipedia.

It’s also 25 years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Definitely Worth Pondering

Totally Confused

Donetsk to become part of the UK, magic for dogs, Los Angeles Police Department is investigating ALL the cars, water buffalo run free and silence may be golden.

Want You To Know: Barbies And Bots

Monday Morning internets

A couple of pieces on the twin engines of eyeball driving, Buzzfeed and Upworthy. The Upworthy piece is longer and is almost enough to make you lose your cynicism about those cunning, laughable and highly successful headlines. Buzzfeed trawling through Whisper’s database of secrets sounds like it could definitely be successful. Who doesn’t love a bit of anonymous gossip?

Speaking of Buzzfeed, keep taking those quizzes. Though do remember, kids, that

willingly giving away lots of information about your personal preferences to a media company might not be the best idea.

Somehow I missed this satisfyingly snarky headline from El Reg a few days back: Google wearables: A solution looking for a rich nerd. Yes, just perhaps the market for wearables in their current form isn’t as big as some fans would like to think.

To Ponder

On Barbie

For some reason or other, several Barbie related things today. Extreme Barbie jeep racing [YT playlist]. “Barbie … has not, to my knowledge, cosplayed as Brienne of Tarth until now.”. A Kickstarter for a project to produce 3D printed armour for Barbie. Yes indeed. This of course comes soon after the news that Lammily, AKA normal Barbie has been funded and will be hitting the toy shop shelves. No doubt there is a movement already underway to denounce Lammilies as ‘not normal’.


If Bitcoins were around in the 90s [YT]. Because they’re not going away you know. They just keep getting lost, and found, and then lost again.

History Lesson / Movie Plug

But in the summer of 1984, a group of gay and lesbian activists in London, at a time when the AIDS issue was seeing prejudices come to the fore, decided to raise money to support the families of striking miners.

Pits and Perverts

Totally Confused

‘Are Trout South African?’, Wikipedia is being edited by bots, humans are creating playlists, drones are saving humans and a hybrid human.

Weekend edition

Video menagerie: Magic for dogs. Molting tarantula. Puzzled penguins.

Whilst mostly ignoring all the media brouhaha about flight MH370, I found this piece fascinating. There’s remote and then there’s remote. “There are two bicycles to ride, a soccer field and a slow Internet connection.” If you fancying reading one other piece about lost planes, make it this one by Michelle Read.

Interested in knowing what teenagers are doing online and whether it will bring about the downfall of society as we know it (hint: no it won’t, just like rock ‘n’ roll didn’t)? Danah Boyd thinks about this and other interesting things a lot, and here’s a Q&A she did with Nick Bilton.

The New Yorker does a brief history of techno. Definitely wouldn’t have expected to see that a decade ago. Perhaps two decades ago, considering how long techno has been around now. Still, artists and audiences alike continue to innovate.

Protip of the day: if you’re leaking your employer’s confidential information, it is best not to use their email service to do so.

Somewhat related, Cloak is an anti-social network, or something like that. It uses Instagram and Foursquare location data to let you know when your contacts are nearby. You can then take the appropriate measures to avoid them if you so wish.

Have A Read Of These

Here are a few articles I enjoyed this week. You never know, maybe you might as well.

  • ‘What Big Media Can Learn From the New York Public Library’, from The Atlantic.

    Quite a lot, actually. The NYPL is doing some truly amazing things online, totally changing and reinventing the way it interacts with its users. In fact, it doesn’t regard them as users but curators and creators in their own right.

  • Users, even in a library, can no longer be shushed.

  • ‘Expletives Not Deleted’, from The New Yorker.

    Armando Ianucci profile. I’m enjoying what I’ve seen of ‘Veep’ so far, even without an obvious Malcolm Tucker character.

  • ‘Stephen King: Tax Me, for F@%&’s Sake!’, from The Daily Beast.

    A sweary Stephen King cuts through the nonsense in the taxation debate. A pleasure to read.

    Mitt Romney has said, in effect, “I’m rich and I don’t apologize for it.” Nobody wants you to, Mitt. What some of us want—those who aren’t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money—is for you to acknowledge that you couldn’t have made it in America without America.

  • ‘The Pirate Bay copyright crackdown is unsustainable’, from The Guardian.

    Whilst it is amusing to watch ‘big media’ flounder around attempting to save their broken business model, this is slippery slope territory. Of course, moderately tech-savvy folks will be able to get around most ham-fisted blocking attempts that governments attempt to impose upon ISPs, but this does open the door to abuse. My concern is that many legislators and many judges have shown that they just don’t understand how the Internet works, and how it delivers the benefits that it undoubtedly does.

    Copyright cannot be allowed to be treated as a more fundamental right than free expression, or a more important issue than a free and open internet.

  • ‘Amazon aren’t destroying publishing, they’re reshaping it’, from The Guardian.

    Good piece on Amazon, Google and Apple as content gatekeepers, and the stagnation rather than innovation this encourages.

  • ‘How to Write about Africa’, from Granta.

    As Homer Simpson said, “it’s funny because it’s true”. In this case it’s also more than a little sad.

Whilst you’re reading those, I recommend wrapping your ears around this. Requires tolerance of repetitive electronic music for maximum enjoyment. Also, the Red Hot Chili Peppers put in an unwelcome but thankfully reasonably brief appearance. You have been thoroughly warned.