Final Thoughts

I’m really sad that this class is coming to an end.

Over the course of the last 10 weeks, I’ve learned about high and low culture, the history of the internet, the Great Digital Divide, digital convergence, copyright laws, internet governance, the future of the internet, the great internet bubble burst, the future of communications, data mining, Big Data, future technologies, and much, much more. I’m so grateful for this class, for making me think broadly and minutely about the ever-evolving integral role that technology and the internet take in our lives.

My final project is a case study on Kickstarter, a popular online crowdfunding site for projects with a beginning, end, and deliverable. As I did my research, I realized that so much of what we discussed in class applies to my analysis of Kickstarter’s business model. First, it only caters to a certain subset of internet users, namely those who create and those who have the interest and the funds to support them, but it also heavily relies on social media and understanding that current consumer behaviors include wanting what we want to succeed so we (both creators and funders) spread the word to get more funds. They’re also very active on social media, but only on platforms that matter to them– they have a blog on their website, they tweet, and they’re active on facebook. They also totally get their demographic: young people/Gen Y professionals who 1) want to innovate and 2) are driven by the hammered-in-from-day-one societal expectation to “give back and support their community,” though in this case it’s an online community, and Kickstarter connects the two groups and essentially takes out the middleman.

Kickstarter and other crowdfunding groups are redefining what it means to invent and deliver. Traditionally, inventors had to pitch their ideas to an investor, and if the investor decides if there’s a market, then the product gets made. Now, the inventors can pitch ideas directly to their audience to first see if there’s demand, and the audience gets to help make the product happen. So cool!

I’ll stop before I end up writing my entire paper here in a blog post, but I think the main takeaway for me from this class is that the internet is awesome, it’s a really powerful tool (and with any powerful tool, it can be used for good and for bad), and we need to learn how to harness its power (while maintaining a strong level of ethics and humanity).

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