Centralised versus decentralised structures

Fact is always stranger than fiction. In this meta escapade of seeking funding from the crowd for research into a decentralised digital cash, I am learning that the centralised structures of research institutions and banks are at odds with agility, responsiveness and action. 

I feel the need to record my most recent learnings about doing crowdfunding and conducting this through a university, only I’m gobsmacked by the inertia and red tape. 

The cryptocurrency use research has gone through research ethics (an eye opening adventure in itself). The idea is to do in person work alongside engaging and monitoring trends in the online environment. With a digital community, doing both these activities is a no brainer. However methodologically, this brings two apparently uncomfortable bedfellows into one bed. It involves face-to-face and online observation and interaction. Doing both appears to throw ethics committees into conniptions. The learning here is don’t take quotes from public forums without consent. It will mean that every researcher who comes after you will suffer at multiple ethics amendments as the committee remembers the massive shitstorm this created and makes every researcher who comes after you jump through a thousand hoops.  

So. That hurdle passed and there’s no more funding to do the data collection. 

Multiple months later and I’ve cleared the decks to start the project. Now, I’m attempting my first crowdfunding campaign. 

www.experiment.com/cryptocurrency

Donate now and help me make a cool and cutting edge project happen. It makes me excited, and that’s saying something. My research antenna is twanging like ships ropes singing in a storm. 

It appears that not only do I need to learn how to video edit, but I also need to work out how to reach the right people and work out the research product to sell the project. All very grown up stuff. 

So thanks to a lovely fairy, I now have something to say on that front. 50Usd gets you a research report and a handwritten cover note. I apologise in advance that my handwriting is barely legible. There’s also likely to be a cheeky little sketch because that’s just how I roll.  From there we get more sophisticated. 250usd is a tailored report and follow up. 500usd is a consult and report where we get to talk. The lucky donar gets to place the spotlight on a particular area and I get to share what we’ve learnt about the topic. For 1000usd it’s even more fun. 1/2 day workshop responding to the donar’s case study, drawing on the research findings. 

If the crowdfunding campaign doesn’t get off the ground for a variety of real and contributing factors (such as time of year, finding sponsors or the failure of the university to support the campaign), then these ideas alone will see the project happen. 

In all of this, I stand observing. I see chaos, opportunity and the brittle nature of centralised structures. I take note of  the entrepreneurial spirit of digital frontiers where the future recombines itself in the inner fringes. 

In this spirit I repeat my mantra: Always walk towards the doors that open. Don’t waste your time with what you don’t want and pursue what you do want however you can. 

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