I had my first taste of the internet way back in 1989 watching a design engineer in Ohio work in real time with her compatriot in Italy. “In the past”, she said “I would design a project, ship it up the chain of command, be sent overseas, funneled down the chain over there then plopped on that poor boy’s desk in Milan who then had to figure it out”. With this direct digital communication, they cut out the middleman.
I saw the future in it’s rough form. This would kill traditional intermediaries by creating a direct link between producer and user. So has come the demise of travel agents, book stores, newspapers and the like. I even did the latest version of my will online for $29 as opposed to the $150 I laid out to the lawyer in 2001.
So I took note of yesterday’s news that Kickstarter provides 3x the amount of funding to artists than the National Endowment For The Arts. Kickstarter is great for artists who can design and immediately promote their project rather than go thru the lengthy process of ‘applying’ for an NEA grant and then having to be judged by a committee representing the status quo.
And for the public this is a winner too. The NEA is about $300 million, but that money is disbursed by faceless functionaries who’ve worked their way up the system and are loyal to what got them there. Contrast that with Kickstarter where you decide what is art.
Kickstarter is a win for the artists ad a win for the public. In a time of austerity where we’re going to have a tough time paying for grandma’s wheelchair, this provides an opportunity to wind down the NEA.