A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: kickstarter

The Kickstarter Generation, Prose Edition

by evanmcmurry

Today in savage book reviews:

It is my opinion that this novel is awful, and I am aesthetically or philosophically opposed to it. Likely it comes from some hypocrite-lecteur-mon-semblable-mon-frere place, but Taipei brought out all of my conservative instincts. Only a real codger would say this, but if this is the output we can expect from one of our bright young things, we’re fucked.

Unsurprisingly, the actions of a “web-savvy It writer” correspond suspiciously with those of a con man:

In July 2008, Lin sold six shares of “Richard Yates” online. The winning bidders gave him $2,000 each in exchange for 10 percent of the domestic profits that come from “Yates.” As he says with a laugh, “If it doesn’t make very much, that’s their loss.”

[snip] In early November 2009, Lin held an “experimental contest” on his blog that invited users to bid a certain amount of money via Paypal — any amount they chose — on a prize package of Tao Lin goodies. The catch: Lin’s prizes would go to the highest bidder, but entrants would not get their money back if their bid lost. Lin posted a video that showed off the prizes: A “unique drawing of a Sasquatch holding a hamburger,” which he notes has the “crying hamster stamp of authenticity” (a small doodle Lin puts on all his artwork and also signs books with); a Tao Lin T-shirt; an unpublished draft of a short story; an error-filled galley copy of “Shoplifting From American Apparel”; and a small Moleskine journal filled with Lin’s notes. “You can find out exactly what I do by getting this and looking at my to-do list,” he declares in the video. One finds all of this thoroughly ridiculous until learning that the last Moleskine notebook he sold on eBay went for $80. He is making real money off of this shwag. Lin says, “I probably make $700 a month from selling stupid things on my blog.”

Welcome to the Kickstarter generation.

“An Undertaking Of Great Advantage”: Or, Kickstarter Is A 300-Year-Old Scam

by evanmcmurry

Quoted in David Graeber’s Debt, in a segment on the burst of joint-stock offerings that occurred in England at the advent of capitalism:

The most absurd and preposterous of all, and which shewed, more completely than any other, the utter madness of people, was one started by an unknown adventurer, entitled “A company for the carrying on of an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is.”

The man of genius who essayed this bold and successful inroad upon public credulity merely stated in his prospectus that the required capital was half a million, in five thousand shares of 100l. each, deposit 2l. per share. Each subscriber, paying his deposit, would be entitled to 100l. per annum per share. How this immense profit was to be obtained, he would not condescend to inform them at that time, but promised that in a month the full particulars would be duly announced, and call made for the remaining 98l. of the subscription. Next morning, at nine o’clock, this great man opened an office in Cornhill. Crowds beset his door, and when he shit up at three o’clock, he found that no less than one thousand shares had been subscribed for, and the deposits paid.

He was philosopher enough to be contented with his venture, and set off that same evening for the Continent. He was never heard of again.

Sound familiar?

In one of the most notorious failures yet, Josh Dibb of the band Animal Collective collected more than $25,000 from Kickstarter donors in December 2009 to travel to Mali and work on an anti-slavery movement. Almost three years later, the hundreds of donors to Dibb’s project have yet to receive any of the rewards they were promised. On August 21, Dan Rollman, a man who had supported the Malian endeavor, took to the project’s comments section to complain. “We are now approaching three years since your project was funded. Three years!” Rollman wrote. “You relied on the belief of strangers, who gave you over $25,000 so you could have a fun adventure in Africa. It’s truly disappointing.”