i remember standing in my kitchen talking to my roommate, earl scioneaux, about this idea i just had for a website. it was late 2001 or early 2002, and i had been frustrated by my experience trying to put together a concert. the show never happened, but the idea for kickstarter was born from my frustration.
today is kickstarter’s 3rd birthday. but, as you may have noticed, it has been about ten years since that day in my kitchen. why did it take so long? let me paint a picture for you:
earl and i were living in the french quarter in new orleans. in the early 2000s. this is akin to having an idea for a musical in outer mongolia. not exactly fertile ground. and that was only part of it, because while i felt the idea would work, i didn’t have much interest in being the person to do it. i liked my life. i had no desire to start a website — besides the fact that i had little idea how.
but the idea stuck around in my head. good ideas do that. really good ideas call to you and remind you that they’re there. every so often i would wonder when someone else was going to do it. when a site like kickstarter would just appear on the web one day. it didn’t happen.
in 2004, i started to pay more attention to the idea. why? i felt a pull to move back to nyc, and i would need something to do, career-wise. and i was basically unemployable — my work history does a poor job inspiring employer confidence. so why not try to tread water (work in a restaurant) and pursue “the idea”?
sometimes a good idea is like an artifact that you find. it’s deep in a cave, lodged in the earth, and you need people to help you pull it out and show the world. yancey stickler and charles adler came down into that cave with me. i showed them what i had found. and they helped me pull it out.
and that’s really how it feels. like the idea is its own thing, stumbled upon. and that we pulled it out, cleaned it up, and invited people to a party to come see it. it’s always felt this way.
the idea is one thing, and kickstarter is another. kickstarter is the manifestation of the idea in one way, by one set of people. but the idea will outlive kickstarter. people will be funding and building community around their projects, on the web, in this general way, for a long long time. (and we plan for kickstarter to be around for generations).
and the absolute best thing has been the art that is being created. art, real art — things that people can’t get out of their head — is bursting out. to be connected to the creation of things like mysterious letters, the music box, girl walk, grassroots mapping, and tens of thousands of other projects is indescribable.
there’s always more
and there are billions of projects in people’s heads right now. and however they happen, i just can’t wait to see them. especially the good ones. especially the really really good ones that stop you in your tracks, and impress you so deeply you have to laugh.
i want to end with a quote that i heard about a year ago, but have (certainly) misremembered. the point is still the same…
“my great grandfather worked in a factory so my grandfather could be a teacher, my grandfather was a teacher so my father could be a lawyer, my father was a lawyer so i could be an artist.”