Crowdfunding, Technology, and Humanity

As technology continues to advance at a breakneck pace, people keep asking the same core question–what will [insert new technology] do to our humanity? How will it affect Generation Z, who are learning to read and interact with content from apps that have found ways to work gamification into seemingly every experience? What happens to relationships when we communicate largely through a screen? Artists, writers, theorists, social scientists, and everyone in between in the 20th and 21st centuries have been pondering these questions–think of the issues brought forth in modern and post-modern art, or consider Fahrenheit 451 or modern films such as I, Robot or The Matrix. Technology has become a core villain in many of our favorite dystopian story lines.

Amongst the pessimism, we can also find rays of hope, as people look for ways to use technology to enrich the human experience, rather than separating us from our own humanity. Some of the best innovators and technical minds of our time have spoken out about the relationship they see among individuals, society, and technology. Steve Jobs once said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.” Technology, then, should be used as a tool for us to express goodness, become more intelligent, and foster new connections that we might not otherwise be able to make. A great example is the modern concept of the “flipped classroom,” which Salman Khan pioneered with the Khan Academy. The general premise is that students use technology to watch lectures at home and they come into the classroom to work one-on-one with their teachers to increase the amount of meaningful interaction taking place in the classroom.

Likewise, crowdfunding provides us with a wonderful opportunity to do this. We can invest–either with donations, and soon with equity–in business ideas that we believe in, we can support budding student entrepreneurs, we can seek out specific projects run by our favorite non-profits that particularly inspire us, and we can help friends and strangers a like in their times of need. Not everything that goes up on crowdfunding sites succeeds: over 50% of Kickstarter projects fail. Much of this is attributed to the marketing prowess of the campaign owner and their 1st and 2nd degree connections. Marketing is an important piece of making a project successful, but it also comes down to how compelling the project is to strangers. Projects that make us feel more deeply connected to others tend to do particularly well.

A great example of this at work is a campaign running on a site created for the drag racing community. The premise of the nascent site–Drag Racing Crowd–is to bring together the drag racing community so that racers, fans, and family members can join together and support each other in an industry that is hard to break into and expensive, but also very close-knit. Currently the manager of the site, Douglas Deck, is helping friends run a campaign that is a little out of the ordinary on the site: raising money for a fellow drag racer whose 3-year-old daughter, Miss Haylee Lynn, was recently diagnosed with B-Cell Leukemia. Launcht was so struck by the story that we felt compelled to share. It is a perfect example of technology providing us a way to be more altruistic and connected to those that need our help.

At the end of the day, we still have control over ourselves, and we can do as much–or as little–as we want with the resources we have available. Here at Launcht, we have dedicated ourselves to being a Benefit Corporation to ensure that we are always focusing on two bottom lines: one economic, but an arguably more important moral bottom line. We will continue to use our technology to support projects that support people. To read more, click here.

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