Tag Archives: crowdfunding

Grenelabs and its indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for a handheld diagnostic device

Grenelabs has just started anindiegogo campaign to raise money for its lab-on-a-chip handheld diagnostic equipment or as they call it, ‘Lab-on-a-chip: Diagnostics in the Palm of Your Hand‘. I received a Nov. 19, 2013 news release (as happens more frequently these days) about the effort,

Thomas Warinner, head of Grenelabs, seeks crowdfunding to raise $75,000 by December 20, 2013 (11:59 pm PT), www.indiegogo.com/projects/lab-on-a-chip-diagnostics-in-the-palm-of-your-hand, to support the completion of the technologically new, lab-on-a chip diagnostic tool. This device, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, is designed using reliable scientific knowledge coupled with breakthrough technology. It enables users to diagnose diseases within minutes without electricity and costly upkeep, making it ideal for use in developing countries around the world and by independent research labs whose funds are oftentimes limited.

“Imagine a world in which developing countries can have access to technologies in order to diagnose and prevent the spread of diseases,” said Thomas Warinner, creator of the lab-on-a-chip device. “The importance of these chips is not to just open up research, but to identify illnesses in people who could otherwise not be diagnosed.” Many of these are illnesses that could be contained and treated, if caught in time, rather than allowing them to run rampant, sickening or killing people and/or animals.

So how does it work? Basically, the lab-on-a chip manipulates liquids in capillary tubes within the chip based on the science of microfluidics. For example, a drop of blood is sent past biomarkers that change when positive. Although disposable, the lab-on-a-chip is designed to be accurate over multiple uses. Grenelabs developed the ability to perform diagnostic testing in any setting, making it useful in disaster situations, remote areas, and developing countries. “This technology will change the world,” Warinner said of his innovative tool that measures half the size of a credit card. But, in order to move forward, funding is needed.

In an effort to raise funds, support levels have been created. Choose a dollar amount and receive the assigned perk. For instance, a $55 donation will give the donor a digital copy of a huge modern art mural with DNA sequencing; a $125 donation will reward the contributor with a lab-on-a-chip engraved with the contributor’s name to be given to an area in need; a $500 donation gets the supporter a special work of art with an individualized DNA sequencing as the focus; and a $1200 donation allows givers to conduct their own genetic experiments with an electrophoresis unit deliverable by January 2014.

While the initial goal is to collect $75,000 for finalization and production of the chip, more money is needed to improve the lab-on-a-chip’s reach. With $200,000, an upgraded software system will allow all users, inexperienced and experienced, to utilize the chip. With $500,000, the number of diseases and infections that can be recognized by the device would increase. And imagine having a personal diagnostic system at home; with $1,000,000, that would be a possibility.

Support the campaign through monetary donation or by simply sharing the lab-on-a-chip’s fundraising page with others through word of mouth or social media sites. With support, the lab-on-a-chip will soon be making a positive difference in the world.

About Grenelabs

Grenelabs is founded by Thomas Warinner. With a mission to provide affordable and accessible learning tools to researchers around the world, the company developed the lab-on-a-chip device to be a convenient, affordable and useful tool for people around the world.

It seems like a well-intentioned project but its a little hard to tell what makes it different from all of the other hand-held diagnostic projects. I did take a look at the Grenelabs website and was not able to get any more information about the folks behind this project or about any other projects they may have underway. It’s early days yet and I’m sure they’ll refine their pitch (perhaps a find a distinctive name for their project?) as they continue to seek funds.

Interestingly (to me) the news release for this campaign,was written and sent by L&C, a company devoted to the promotion of crowdfunding campaigns according to its About Us page,

We are obsessed with great design & quality content and that’s one of the reasons L&C became successful in the first place. Each crowdfund project we publish goes through quality control and has to be approved by L&C’s crowdfunding experts in order to get showcased. By following this strategy we’ve managed to showcase 100′s of crowdfund projects to the public.

“We showcase the coolest crowdfund projects of the web”

We’ve helped entrepreneurs and innovators turn brilliant ideas into realily and are proud of that. We are dedicated in finding the coolest crowdfund projects of the web and in making your life easier, that’s our goal, that’s our passion and 1000′s of visitors per day must mean we are doing something right.

If you want to:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Inspire people to visit your campaign page
  • Convince people to back your crowdfund project
  • Promote your project across multiple channels
  • Use the very latest marketing methods that are proven to produce results

If any of the above sounds familiar, L&C Media Buzz is the team for you.

Who We Are

Our team at L&C draws on years of promotional and marketing experience in the online and physical communities. We make it our job to keep up to date with cutting edge techniques so that you can always be sure your project is being presented in the very best light to your target audiences.

We know how important it is to focus on presenting the right message to the right people at the right time. Our professional team of copywriters and marketing experts have all the crowdfund promotion tools you could ask for and more.

What We Do

Whether you are trying to fund an exciting new product or pay for a family member’s medical expenses, there are people out there that will be willing to help. But in order to help, those people need to know about your project.

By employing a combination of proven marketing methods executed with the flare and panache of marketing veterans, L&C Media Buzz can instantly improve your crowdfunding project’s visibility. Some of those proven techniques include:

  • Content Optimization
  • Professionally Written Press Releases with Global Distribution
  • Content Marketing
  • Multimedia Web Promotion
  • Headline Display in Time Square

With our helping hands, you can reach out to a wider audience and really showcase your campaign in all its glory.

Not for Everyone

Some people might think that having a campaign on the internet and writing an article about it will do the job. If the project is good then the people will come… won’t they?
The truth, unfortunately, is no. Just because something is there, doesn’t mean people will see it.

More than that, even if you have the most amazing cause or product to raise funds for, people still might not want to make a financial investment in you.
Why? Because investing in somebody is a risk. Especially if you don’t know that person.

In order to fulfill your campaign goals, you will need a crowdfund promotion plan that isn’t just seen by potential backers, but one that inspires investors to take a chance on you. This takes skill and expertise. The skill and expertise that that not everyone possesses. The skill and expertise that L&C possesses.

  • Professional writers will craft press releases that will be distributed worldwide to attract potential backers.
  • Copywriters will carefully design engaging blogs about your campaign that highlight exactly why people need to invest in your dream right now.
  • L&C will post blogs on our very own blog page (blog.lncdeslet.com) which, with a little help of our SEO experts, gets visitors from all over the world.
  • In short, we cover all marketing angles to help drive targeted traffic to your crowdfunding campaign.

Easy for You

Here at L&C we understand that your main priority should be focusing on bringing your project to life. That’s why we offer to take all the hard work and stress out of crowdfund promotion.

Using our professional, effective marketing services couldn’t be easier. We use packages which combine various marketing components from social media promotion to crowdfund consultation. Whichever package you choose, you will have a personal campaign manager who will oversee your crowdfund promotion plan from beginning to end to ensure excellent continuity across all marketing channels.

We at L&C don’t believe in hidden fees which is why each package is paid for up front with a one off fee. Once you have chosen the package that best suits your campaign’s needs, you can fill out the details in the forms provided to make sure your promotional material fits your unique goal, pay the fee and then sit back and let us work our marketing magic.

Our crowdfund promotion packages raise your campaign up on a pedestal for your investors to see clearly.

Based on what I see for Warriner’s campaign, I hope L&C will help the Grenelabs folks to better understand the audience for what appears to be a well intentioned project.

Kodjo Afate Gnikou and his team in Togo create the world’s first 3D printer for less than $US100

If you want to create a 3D printer for less $US100 scavenge your parts from electronic waste products as Kodjo Afate *Gnikou and his team did according to an Oct. 11, 2013 article by Neal Ungerleider for Fast Company (Note: Links have been removed),

The small West African nation of Togo is one of the last places you’d expect to find a maker space–a workshop where inventors and tinkerers can work on new projects to their hearts content. But inside the capital city of Lome, there’s a maker space. Woelab bills itself as “Africa’s first space for democratic technology” and it’s home to Kodjo Afate Gnikou. Gnikou’s latest invention was recently unveiled, and it’s amazing: A 3-D printer made from cheap discarded electronics of the kind found all over the world.

For anyone whose geography may need refreshing, there’s this from the Wikipedia Togo essay (Note: Links have been removed),

Togo Listeni/ˈtoʊɡoʊ/, officially the Togolese Republic (French: République Togolaise), is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, where its capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately 57,000 square kilometres (22,000 sq mi) with a population of approximately 6.7 million.

Togo is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture, with a climate that provides good growing seasons. Togo is one of the smallest countries in all of Africa. The official language is French, with many other languages spoken in Togo, particularly those of the Gbe family.

An Oct. 10, 2013 posting on 3ders.org offers this about the project,

Using rails and belts from old scanners, the case of a discarded desktop computer and even bits of a diskette drive, Gnikou has created what is believed to be the first 3D printer made from e-waste.

Afate has been working on this experimental device for several months. He calls it W.AFATE, a composition of “W” WoeLab, and “Afate”.

Afate launched his project on ulule, an European crowdfunding site earlier this year, and raised more than 4,000 euro from supporters. The fund helped Afate support the cost of the original investment in time and equipment. W.AFATE 3D printer is now a working prototype. Some elements had to be bought new but, in all, his printer cost him 100 US dollars to build.

Afate says his printer can be useful on a daily basis as it can print various utensils needed in any household, that are not always easy to get hold of in west Africa.

You can find out more about Afate Gnikou’s WoeLab here (Note: You will need your French language skills),

 “Petite république numérique” au quartier Djidjolé, [Lomé,, Togo] “définitivement fablab à niveau de rue”, WɔɛLab est un lieu d’innovation partagée où s’élabore au quotidien de nouvelles approches de la collaboration productive vertueuse en contexte africain, suivant le cahier des charges- concept : #LowHighTech. Ses prérogatives sont : -Centre de Ressources Numériques, Incubateur de Technologie. Le lieu héberge en latence du potentiel technologique qui ne demande qu’à être exploité sous la double condition du libre et de la transparence. -Pépinière de structures des domaines web, numérique et TIC.  -Espace d’expression privilégiée de la Démocratie Technologique. Diffusion d’une connaissance LowHighTech accessible à tous, assistance mutuelle bénévole, accompagnement technologique gratuit pour les artisans du quartier, reconquête du pouvoir de faire, recherche d’une Intelligence Globale. -Collaboration Universitaire et Volet Recherche. Partenariats avec les centres de recherche et les écoles de design. Appui aux institutions dans la démarche de constitution de leur propre pôle Lab.

I’ll do my best with this very rough translation but as I’ve noted in previous postings, my French is rusty. This is not word for word but is an attempt to get at the meaning with the terminology that is in use here in Canada and the US, e.g., collaboration productive vertueuse is sustainable and collaborative innovation

Our fabrication lab is part of a digital enterprise, which is located in Djidjolé, neighbourhood of Lomé, Togo,, WoeLab is committed to sustainable, collaborative innovation. within the African context and according to the principles of LowHighTech Innovation: use of free materials and transparent governance. Our goals are (1) to make knowledge and equipment that benefits our community and adds to global efforts in the democratic use and production of technology and (2) to contribute to our common global intellectual pursuits.

If someone can better represent what’s being said in French, please add it in the comments or contact me directly.

There was mention of a successful crowdfunding campaign, on the French language crowdfunding platform, Ulule, which has resulted in the W.Afate 3D printer Afterwards, the WoeLab community produced a thank you video,

In searching for more information about Afate Grnkou’s 3D printer, and other projects I found this June 5, 2013 posting by Daniel Hayduck on his blog/magazine, The Developing Tray,

Last week I met someone here in Lome with an idea I can safely say I’ve never heard before.

Kodjo Afate Gnikou wants to put e-waste often dumped in West Africa to good use on Mars, building a colony for the future.

Using rails and belts from old scanners, the case of a discarded desktop computer and even bits of a diskette drive, he’s created what’s believed to be the first 3D printer made from e-waste.


The 33-year-old, who makes a living repairing cellphones and computers in his neighbourhood, says he believes this model is only the prototype for something much larger.

“I imagine e-waste and other waste being transported to Mars and I imagine a 3D printer can be sent to Mars to make homes for mankind,” says Afate.

“They all say it is merely a dream, that will never happen.”

There’s more about the W.Afate to Mars project on the 2013 spaceappschallenge.org website (from the website home page for the Paris edition (April 20 – 21, 2013) in which Afate Gnikou was participating),

The Paris edition of the Nasa Space Apps Challenge ! We are gathering experts from the aerospace field, and the developer and startup community in France, to tackle the challenges laid out during this event.

Le “International Space Apps Challenge” est une collaboration internationale sans précédent entre des agences gouvernementales, des institutions académiques et des associations et entreprises innovantes tout autour du monde.

Le Space Apps Challenge est un hackathon* international ayant lieu pendant 48 heures en même temps dans plusieurs villes autour du monde.

Congratulations to Kodjo Afate Gnikou and his team on creating a more affordable 3D printer by reusing e-waste.

* I misspelled Kodjo Afate Gnikou’s name as Grikou in my posting and have corrected this (I hope I found every instance) as of Oct. 14, 2013.

About Nanoject and about Microryza; it’s all about research crowdfunding

A July 15, 2013 news item on Nanowerk features a ‘nano’ research crowdfunding campaign (Note: A link has been removed),

Two researchers at York University in the UK have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough cash to research a nanoparticle cancer treatment that’s delivered via a patch – the Nanject. The two are looking to rise $3000 for their project – to buy chemicals and raw materials – which is listed on Microryza (“Targeted Drug Delivery by using Magnetic Nanoparticles”).

The goal of this project is to develop a pharmaceutical Nano Patch which is called the Nanject. This patch can be applied to the skin and will deliver specific amounts of target drugs where necessary. The team is initially developing a patch for treating cancer, by injecting microscopic particles (or nanoparticles) into the bloodstream that can pinpoint, attach themselves to, and kill cancer cells. They are then naturally disposed by the body.

The Nanowerk news item includes an embedded video created by project proponents, Atif Syed and Zakareya Hussein.

Here’s more from Syed and Hussein on their Targeted Drug Delivery by using Magnetic Nanoparticles campaign page on Microryza,

The goal of this project is to develop a pharmaceutical Nano Patch which we call as the Nanject.This patch can be applied to the skin and will deliver specific amounts of target drugs where necessary. We are initially developing a patch for treating cancer, by injecting microscopic particles (or nanoparticles) into the bloodstream that can pinpoint, attach themselves to, and kill cancer cells. They are then naturally disposed by the body. This technology could potentially revolutionise health care and medicine and save millions of lives around the world as well as allow treatment of new types of cancer. We appreciate any and all support.

The funds will allow us to get Chemicals and Raw Materials. Everything else is being fuelled by our IT, programming, and nanotechnology expertise, the access we have to cutting-edge university clean rooms and other facilities, and above all our passion for making this a reality that could improve and allow many people’s future. …

With $1456 raised, as of July 16, 2013 at 10:10 am PDT, they are approximately half way to their $3000 goal with 14 days left to the campaign.

This is the first ‘nanopatch’ project I’ve seen where the main focus is cancer treatment. The other projects, such as Mark Kendall’s in Australia (my Aug. 3, 2011 posting), are largely focussed on vaccines. I wish the researchers all the best.

I recently came across Microryza (again), a crowdfunding platform for science projects, in a June 25, 2013 posting by David Bruggeman at his Pasco Phronesis blog (Note: Links have been removed),

Microryza is a research-oriented crowdfunding platform.  Created in 2012, the founders were motivated to do something when one of them was dismissed out of hand (H/T STEM Daily) as an undergraduate when she sought a small grant for research on hospital infections.  The site has 100 projects, of which 30 have been funded to date.  It forgoes the incentives many crowdfunding sites have for their projects, and encourages project researchers to share as much information as they can with their donors.

I don’t necessarily agree that the Microryza projects are as ‘fringe’ as Fast Company implies.  There are a fair amount of applied research projects, which don’t necessarily fit well with the traditional research agencies.  …

David, in amongst his other comments, notes that while the Microryza organizers do provide some oversight before accepting a project, potential funders should check out the researchers and their projects for themselves.

You can find out more about Microrzya here. I last mentioned it in an April 30, 2012 posting about science crowdfunding platforms.

For anyone who’s wondering about the name Microryza (from the website’s FAQs page),

What are Mycorrhiza? What’s the story behind the name?
Mycorrhizae are a type of symbiotic, microscopic fungi that live in the roots of plants. They process nutrients, fight off pathogens, and stabilize the soil. Although they’re small and unnoticeable individually, when you have a lot of them together they support an entire ecosystem of roots, shrubs, and trees.

In the same way, we’re growing a community of individuals who provide microgrants to help new research ideas. With Microryza, people from all over the world can come together and help new seed ideas blossom into new scientific discoveries.

Origins of Pacific sea life: crowdfunding a scientific expedition to the Danajon Bank

The Danajon (pronounced Dana [as in dada] hon) Bank, a reef  in the Philippines, is believed to be where much of Pacific marine life originated. According to a March 5, 2013 University of British Columbia news release, a team of researchers and photographers have started a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo to document and raise awareness of the beautiful and endangered Danajon Bank,

Marine scientists and the world’s top nature photographers are teaming up to reveal for the first time the beauty of a rare double-barrier reef in the Philippines – and the imminent threats it faces – with the help of citizens around the world.

One of only six double-barrier reefs in the world, Danajon Bank is an important evolutionary birthplace of fish and other animal species found all over the Pacific Ocean today. However, Danajon Bank suffers from overfishing and other human pressures, and is home to nearly 200 threatened species.

Expedition: Danajon Bank will send a team of conservationists and award-winning photographers to document this “centre of the centre” of biodiversity, with the ultimate goal of legally protecting the fragile reef system.

“Not many people have heard of Danajon Bank. We plan to change that,” says Prof. Amanda Vincent, director of Project Seahorse, a UBC-Zoological Society of London initiative. “Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to raise funds and inspire the public to take ownership of issues such as marine conservation, so we thought: why not start there?”

“There really is no better way to communicate the urgent need for marine conservation than through images that hit you in the head and the heart,” says Thomas P. Peschak, an International League of Conservation Photographers Fellow and one of the expedition photographers. His résumé includes multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Press Photo awards.

The team is requesting $30,000 to fund their expedition, which will take place April 5 – 15, 2013, and each level of donation promises rewards, all of them photographic in nature (wordplay intended).

Sample photo by ILCP photographer Luciano Candisani, who is part of Expedition: Danajon Bank. (Photo: Luciano Candisani/ILCP) [downloaded from http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2013/03/05/ubc-scientists-nature-photographers-launch-philippines-expedition-with-crowdfunding/]

Sample photo by ILCP photographer Luciano Candisani, who is part of Expedition: Danajon Bank. (Photo: Luciano Candisani/ILCP) [downloaded from http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/2013/03/05/ubc-scientists-nature-photographers-launch-philippines-expedition-with-crowdfunding/]

Here’s a little more about the team from the University of British Columbia (UBC) news release,

The Expedition: Danajon Bank team also includes world-renowned photographers Luciano Candisani, Claudio Contreras, and Michael Ready. Project Seahorse co-founders Amanda Vincent (UBC), Heather Koldewey (ZSL [Zoological Society of London]) and Nicholas Hill (ZSL) will act as scientific advisors.

In April, the expedition team will blog from the field at danajon-bank.tumblr.com, and you can follow their exploits on Twitter @projectseahorse and @ilcp.

Beginning in June, the photographs will be shown in a series of public exhibitions in Chicago, Hong Kong, Manila and London and published in a new book.

I wonder why Vancouver is not included as a stop for one of the public exhibitions. After all, Vancouver is between Hong Kong and Manila to the west and Chicago to the east. As well, it is a little unexpected to note the involvement of Project Seahorse as the campaign notes don’t make the reasons for that group’s participation obvious but the campaign video clarifies matters somewhat,

As of today, March 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm PST, they have raised $225 towards their goal with 28 days remaining. Surprisingly, the team doesn’t offer any ‘science’ rewards. You can get photographs, the project’s book of photographs, postcards, etc. but not a single reward features a chat with one of the scientists, or a special visit to a facility such as the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, or an opportunity to be a member of the expedition.

In any event, I wish the expedition the best of luck both with raising funds and with their work.

Crowdfunding nanotoxicology research and determining the results in advance

A Feb. 7, 2013 news item on Nanowerk highlights an initiative by a not-for-profit agency, As You Sow, to crowdfund nanotoxicology research (Note: Links have been removed),

“Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Food” was released yesterday by As You Sow, a nonprofit organization that promotes corporate responsibility and environmental health. The brief includes results of a survey of 2,500 food companies about their use of nanomaterials in food products, as well as laboratory results showing titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles in the white powdered sugar that coats Dunkin’ Donuts Powdered Cake Donuts and Hostess Donettes.

Intent on testing more common food products, As You Sow has simultaneously launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. “We plan to raise enough money to test M&M’s, Pop-Tarts, and Trident gum for nanomaterials,” said As You Sow CEO Andrew Behar.

The organization’s Slipping Through the Cracks: An Issue Brief on Nanomaterials in Foods can be found here. Clicking on the publication’s  Download the report (PDF) link produces a form which needs to be filled out prior to receiving it.  From the ‘Slipping Through the Cracks’  webpage,

Slipping Through the Cracks is designed to inform companies, investors, and consumers about the emerging use of engineered nanomaterials in food and food related products. It highlights the potential risks of nanotechnology for companies who are knowingly or unknowingly using it in their products and for public health.

As You Sow and other leading investors surveyed 25,000 food manufacturers and tested a range of popular donuts; the results of both inquiries proved that nanomaterials are currently being used in food products. [emphases mine]

The terminology “leading investors” is an interesting choice. Is that because activist or civil society member is considered more pejorative? From the As You Sow About Us page (Note: Links have been removed),

Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our efforts create large-scale systemic change by establishing sustainable and equitable corporate practices.

As You Sow was founded on the belief that many environmental and human rights issues can be resolved by increased corporate responsibility. As investor representatives, we communicate directly with corporate executives to collaboratively develop and implement business models that reduce risk, benefit brand reputation, and protect long term shareholder value while simultaneously bringing about positive change for the environment and human rights.

How does this work and from where do they get their funding? It’s hard to imagine an investor in IBM or Proctor & Gamble or Facebook or Monsanto or … contacting these folks and asking them to ensure corporate social responsibility and investigate nanomaterials in food. Alternatively, which food or other type of company asked them to check for nanomaterials in donuts? The whole endeavour does seems a bit odd.

In any event, As You Sow’s Feb. 6, 2013 news release about the Indiegogo campaign makes some largely unexceptional comments,

Nanomaterials have been heralded as having the potential to revolutionize the food industry – from enabling production of creamy liquids that contain no fat, to enhancing flavors, improving supplement delivery, providing brighter colors, keeping food fresh longer, or indicating when it spoils. Yet few, if any, studies adequately demonstrate the safety of nanoparticles in food. In fact, scientists are still investigating how nanoparticles will react in the body and what testing methodologies are appropriate to determine this.

“There has been a lot of buzz about the potential for nanomaterials in food, but very little information about the risks to public health,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President and co‐author of the brief. “Much deeper scientific inquiry is needed to prove nanomaterials are safe before they continue to be sold commercially.” [emphasis mine]

“Deeper scientific inquiry” sounds like an excellent idea unfortunately the folks at As You Sow seem to believe that the ‘scientific inquiry’ finding proof of a predetermined outcome, from the Protect Kids from Nanomaterials in Sweets crowdfunding campaign page on Indiegogo,

Kid-friendly foods like M&Ms & Pop-Tarts may contain dangerous nanoparticles, which we found in Dunkin Donuts. Help us test more foods & keep your family safe.

As You Sow found nanomaterials in Dunkin Donuts as noted in their Feb. 6, 2013 news release. Strangely that news release does not contain any information about research proving that the nano titanium dioxide on the donuts is dangerous to anyone’s health. There is not a single piece of research or expert cited. This seems less like a scientific inquiry and more like pseudo-science. The fact that there are some dangerous nanomaterials means that all nanomaterials are dangerous and and, if upon testing, any nanomaterials are found in a foodstuff that means the foodstuff is dangerous to our health.

From a semiotic perspective, there’s a wealth of imagery and signification to work with, far too much for this post.

Shockingly, this group has raised almost 25% of the funds they’ve requested with 33 days left in the campaign.

Darwin meets Chaucer off Broadway, Baba Brinkman’s latest off Broadway show is looking for impresarios (financially speaking)

Mentioned here several times for his various ventures into hip hop, rap and science (my Nov. 23, 2012 posting  for his Ingenious Nature show in New York City; my May 24, 2011 posting about his Rap Guide to Evolution show at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, England; and my April 25, 2011 posting about the première of his Chaucer/Gilgamesh/Beowulf mashup rap in Vancouver, Canada; amongst many others) Baba Brinkman strikes again.  From Brinkman’s Jan. 24, 2013 newsletter,

Darwin Meets Chaucer Off-Broadway

Crowdfunding An Extension, and A Unique Experiment

Two weeks ago we finished up the initial run of Ingenious Nature, and immediately an offer came up to extend not just that show but all three of my shows, at a better-located theatre right on NYU’s main campus in the heart of Greenwich Village. The producers of Rap Guide to Evolution, Canterbury Tales Remixed, and Ingenious Nature would have to combine forces to make this happen, and they are now ready to partner on the project, but we have to raise the funds first. That’s where you come in.

I’m starting a crowdfunder drive with IndieGogo to get this never-before-tried theatre experiment launched. You can watch the pitch video here. If successful, we’ll run all three productions in rotation for one month off-Broadway, with two performances of The Rap Guide to Evolution and one each of the other two shows every week. And if that month goes well, we can extend this run indefinitely.

Here’s more from Brinkman’s indiegogo project page,

Help produce the first-ever hip-hop theatre cycle in New York!

Baba Brinkman and Jamie Simmonds have co-written (lyrics and music) and performed three critically-acclaimed hip-hop plays off-Broadway over the past two years. This crowdfunding drive will launch a never-before-tried concept, presenting all three plays in rotating rep for a one-month initial run right in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village, with the possibility of extending indefinitely.

Located amidst the NYU downtown campus, the Player’s Theater offers a rare opportunity to showcase these original and groundbreaking works, each of which transforms a traditionally academic subject into a thrilling entertainment event. The 200-seat Player’s Theater is available for us to rent beginning in March, four shows per week for an initial four weeks, at $1,000 per show. To cover this $16,000 rental cost, plus the overhead for (your!) funder perks and Indiegogo’s 4% fee, we need to raise $20,000.

With turntablism by DJ Jamie Simmonds setting the mood, Baba’s skillful wordplay uniquely interprets the writing of scientists, literary scholars, the classics, and modern psychology, smoothly merging today’s most important ideas and stories with comedy, theatre, and hip-hop: cutting-edge intellectual entertainment at its best!

First and formost, [sic] contribute whatever you can! Even the lowest funding amount gets you an amazing (and hilarious) live album, recorded off-Broadway in January 2013. Above that the perks just get more and more interesting.

Second, please help us to spread the word! Use the share tools and post the YouTube video to your Facebook and Twitter sites. The more this crowdfunding drive goes viral, the more chance we have of sharing these performances with the widest possible audience, including future tours of your area.

At this point (Jan. 25, 2013), they have raised $1,215 and have 31 days left to reach their $US20,000 goal.  Here’s a sampling of incentives, from the project’s indiegogo page,

$10+

Digital Download

Exclusive digital download of Baba Brinkman & Mr. Simmonds brand new live album, Ingenious Nature, delivered in a personal Thank You email.

Estimated delivery date: February 2013

$50+

VIP Tickets & CD

Two tickets to one of the shows (same parameters as above). Includes a signed Baba Brinkman CD of your choice and a digital download of the new album.

Estimated delivery date: March 2013

$2,000+

Full Performance With DJ

…Full performance from Baba and DJ Jamie Simmonds at any venue of your choice (up to one hour in length, subject to both of their availability, travel and other applicable expenses not included). Includes ten tickets to any of the shows and a t-shirt, signed CD, and digital download.

Estimated delivery date: December 2013

Good luck Baba and company!

To Be Or Not To Be; a book publishing Kickstarter project

There’s not much time left if you want to participate in this Kickstarter project (20 hours and counting when I accessed it at 0930 PST Dec. 20, 2012) but I want to feature it here because it illustrates how writers can succeed with new publishing models and because of the intellectual property nonissues.

Ryan North, writer and self-publisher, asked for $20,000 to publish his “To Be Or Not To Be; A chooseable-path adventure” book allowing you to “be” Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet and, at this time, has raised over $480,000.

Prototype cover with art by Noelle Stevenson, she is the best [downloaded from http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/breadpig/to-be-or-not-to-be-that-is-the-adventure]

Prototype cover with art by Noelle Stevenson, she is the best [downloaded from http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/breadpig/to-be-or-not-to-be-that-is-the-adventure]

Here’s a link to the Kickstarter “To Be Or Not To Be” book project and if you’re not ready to go there quite yet, here’s a bit more about the project (from the title webpage),

The greatest work IN English literature, now in the greatest format OF English literature: a chooseable-path adventure!

Now the #1 most funded publishing project on Kickstarter ever!

To Be Or Not To Be is an illustrated, chooseable-path book version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, written by me, Ryan North:

  • “William Shakespeare” you may know from single-handedly giving us some of our most evocative phrases, such as “all that glitters is not gold”, “too much of a good thing”, and “the game is afoot” (Sherlock Holmes said this too I guess.)
  • “Ryan North” you may know from my work on the critically-acclaimed comic Dinosaur Comics, writing the incredibly popular Adventure Time comic book series, or from co-editing the #1 Amazon bestselling short story anthology Machine of Death.
  • “Chooseable-path” you may recognize as a trademark-skirting version of a phrase and book series you remember from childhood.  Remember?  Books in which… an adventure is chosen??

These three things got mashed up together into one BASICALLY AMAZING BOOK full of JOKES and also SWORDFIGHTS and GHOSTS and AWESOME AS A MASS NOUN …

UPDATE: TO BE OR NOT TO BE IS NOW THE PERFECT GIFT!

While we won’t be delivering the books in time for Christmas, if you pledge $30 or more, you unlock a Kickstarter-exclusive Holiday Hamlet ecard that can be sent directly to your gift recipient.  You can read about that here!  It’s the perfect last-minute gift for anyone on your list (assuming they are good at waiting for things) (and also like to read)!  Also we’ve unlocked lots of new prizes at each reward level: be sure to check the updated list!

H/T to Mike Masnick’s Dec. 19, 2012 posting at Techdirt for the  pointer to this project and for noting some interesting non copyright and trademark issues,

…  how does that hit on copyright and trademark issues?

  • Copyright: Even if the head of the Author’s Guild doesn’t seem to know this, Shakespeare’s works are in the public domain, meaning that anyone can use them however they want — whether it’s to make an exact copy (and, yes, there are plenty of those on the market) or to do a derivative work. There have been tons of remakes and updates on Shakespeare’s work, and many of them are super creative, such as this one. Kinda demonstrates just how ridiculous it is for copyright maximalists to argue that without strong copyright protection, creativity gets killed off. Just the opposite, it seems. The ability to build on the works of the past quite frequently inspires amazing new creativity.
  • Trademark: North refers to this as a “choosable path adventure” because:

“Chooseable-path” you may recognize as a trademark-skirting version of a phrase and book series you remember from childhood. Remember? Books in which… an adventure is chosen??

Yes, they’re not using the widely known phrase “choose your own adventure,” because it’s trademarked, and the owner of the mark has sued before. Of course, the story of the mark is interesting in its own right. Apparently, Bantam Books who helped popularize the original choose your own adventure books let the trademark lapse, and it was bought up by Ray Montgomery, who had run the small press that published the original books, but had not held the original trademark on it.

So we have examples of how a lack of a common “intellectual property” law enabled greater creativity, and how a current “intellectual property” law stupidly limits the option of using the most reasonable description of the work. …

Congratulations to North!

Scientists hunger for your money

Crowdfunding (raising funds by posting a project, on a website designed for the purpose, and asking for money in return for rewards you will give to the funders) seems to be everywhere at the moment. I tried it last year for one of my projects and had one failure and one partial success. It’s certainly an interesting process to go through and I’m fascinated with the current interest from scientists. According to an April 25, 2012 posting by Michael Ho on Techdirt, there are at least four crowdfunding websites for science projects.

In addition to the ones Ho cites, I found the #SciFund Challenge, which is being held from May 1  – May 31, 2012. From their home page,

Last fall, scientists raised $76,230 for their research in the first round of the #SciFund Challenge. The second round launches on May 1, 2012!

What? The #SciFund Challenge is a grand experiment in science funding. Can scientists raise money for their research by convincing the general public to open their wallets for small-amount donations? In more and more fields – from music to dance to journalism – people are raising lots of money for projects in precisely this way. The process is called crowdfunding. The first round of the #SciFund Challenge showed that this model can work for funding scientific research. Now, let’s take it to the next level!

Who? Well over 140 scientists, from across the globe, have signed for the second round of the #SciFund Challenge.

When? From May 1- May 31, 2012, scientists participating in the #SciFund Challenge will each conduct their own crowdfunding campaigns for their own research. But even though each scientist will be fundraising for their own research, participants won’t be on their own.  In the month of April, #SciFund scientists will be trained how to run a crowdfunding campaign. And, through the Challenge, participants will be connected together to increase the chances that everyone succeeds.

How do I learn more? Read the blog! You can also contact one of the #SciFund Challenge organizers with any questions: Jai Ranganathan ([email protected]). If you would like to be informed about future rounds of the #SciFund Challenge, please sign up for our mailing list.

From the About page (I have removed several links),

The #SciFund Challenge is an experiment – can scientists use crowdfunding to fund their research? The current rate of funding for science proposals in the U.S. is ~20%. The current rate for crowdfunding statues of RoboCop in Detroit is 135% – to the tune of $67,436. Perhaps Scientists can do better by tapping this reservoir of funds from an interested public. …

The #SciFund Challenge is also a way to get scientists to directly engage with the public. Crowdfunding forces scientists to build public interaction and outreach into their research from day one. It’s a new mechanism to couple science and society, and one that we think has a lot of promise. …

Founders
The founders of the #SciFund Challenge are Dr. Jai Ranganathan  and Dr. Jarrett Byrnes. We are biologists – ecologists, actually – and each spends too much time in the science online scene. Jai ran a weekly science podcast, called Curiouser and Curiouser for Miller-McCune magazine, and Jarrett is the big boss over at the science blog I’m a Chordata! Urochordata! On Twitter, you can find Jai at @jranganathan and [email protected] and Jarrett at @jebyrnes.

On another note and in response to my April 18, 2012 posting about Lego robots being used to grow bones,  I received a notice about a project to raise funds on Kickstarter. As I’m not a Lego afficionado, it took a little digging to figure out the project.

In my April 18, 2012 posting the scientists used a robot that they built with a Lego Mindstorms kit. The beams used to create a base for the robots limit builders and a team from Denmark (Lasse Mogensen and Soren Jensen), which is the home of Lego, have developed a base (a rectangular plate, 21 x 30 holes), which would allow scientists and others to create larger, more robust and complex robots. They call their project, MinuteBot Base,

There are ways to combine the MinuteBot Base plates, which are fully compatible with Lego products, in case a single base does not suffice.

Here’s the MinuteBot Base Kickstarter page where you can find more information and diagrams. The group has raised almost 1/2 of the funds they’ve requested with some 20 days left in their campaign. The group has contacted Michelle Oyen, who’s one of the scientists cited in my April 18, 2012 posting (from their April 25, 2012 email to me),

We are in contact with Michelle Oyen who expressed interest in our products:

“Please let me know if I can be of use in the future, and if you are interested in collaborating on more ideas regarding using Lego Mindstorms for biomedical/bioengineering research!”

The group also has a second project, a MinuteBot Bearing, which they (represented by team member, Dorota Sauer)  have entered in a contest for a prize of $10,000. From the MinuteBot Bearing page on the Boca Bearing contest website,

What was your goal in building this project?

To design a turntable with a perfect interface with LEGO Mindstorms and with improved mechanical properties. The broader vision is to make a kit consisting of robust elements designed for higher precision and durability using industrial components. Robotics made in minutes. That’s MinuteBot.

Does your project help to solve a problem? If so what problem?

LEGO Mindstorms is very easy to program but as it is a toy the precision, durability and mechanical integrity is limited. The MinuteBot Bearing is based on industry-grade ball bearings providing the needed mechanical performance of the turntable.

What makes your idea unique?

The combination of user friendliness, the interface with LEGO Mindstorms and the good mechanical performance makes MinuteBot Bearing unique.

You can find out more information about the team and the products at the MinuteBot website.

Getting back to Michael Ho and his posting about the science-specific crowdfunding sites, here are two listings I’ve excerpted from his April 25, 2012 posting,

Good luck to them all!