07 November 2011

Why crowdfunding?

Why get involved with the#SciFund challenge to raise a bit of money for my research? Kristina Killgrove gave her answers to this question. Here are mine:

  • Crayfish belong to the people! Marmorkrebs (or “Amazon crayfish” as I’ve nicknamed them for this project) weren’t discovered by a professional scientist, but by hobbyists. Pet owners who were paying attention got a find that was published in Nature.* Pros wrote the paper and confirmed it, but smart amateurs made the find. Marmorkrebs research started at the grass roots; crowdfunding is a way for the research to stay connected to those roots.
  • More people will learn about Marmorkrebs. People want to be responsible and do the right thing. But they often don’t know that something that sounds harmless, like using crayfish for fishing bait, can have repercussions. I know where crayfish sit in the list of things that people think about: it’s not high. Introducing these cool animals and giving people an inkling of the science is a win for me.
  • Putting my money where my mouth is. I’ve written a lot in this blog about the virtues of small science. I wrote about microgrants over four years ago, for instance. I would be a hypocrite if I sat on the sidelines for the challenge.
  • A chance to learn and grow. It’s easy to get complacent. I knew that while the #SciFund Challenge might play to some of my strengths (e.g., my lack of pride, shame, and modesty), I was going to have to raise my game. I’d been avoiding video, and this made me get over my reluctance to make them.
  • A chance to play. It’s fun to pretend that I’m an adventurer in the field instead of a geek in front of a computer.

I am not crowdfunding because:

  • Not because it’s easy. I’m putting a lot of effort into the Challenge. I hadn’t made many videos before, and certainly nothing as complicated as the main one on my RocketHub page. By the time these six weeks are over, I will probably have put in as much time as I would have for a full blown external grant.

And having just wrote all of that, I realized I didn’t mention one of the reasons you might think I would have for doing the Challenge. And that’s because it’s not about the money. Science rarely is.

* And crayfish haven’t graced the pages of that glamour mag in the eight years since.

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