The next Revolution will be Economic…
And we’ve just seen the 2005 Molotov Cocktail deluxe. Masquerading as a low key fundraising website, Wikifund.org puts some serious fiscal firepower in the hands of us average folk. The first thing you notice when browsing the site is the number of zeroes. There are some big projects being funded, some of which could affect the course of entire countries. For example, the Open Voting project: Wikifund has teamed with the Open Voting Consortium (http://openvoting.org) to get a secure, verifiable, open source voting system nationally certified. The cost? A cool million in software development, testing, and certification fees. The ramifications of this project are huge. Not only would it restore confidence in our democratic system, but it would actually save taxpayers billions in equipment cost alone. Why? Aside from being completely free (BSD Licensing), the software would run on any platform, making it possible to use use commonly available hardware. Not only that, but it would be practical to manufacture dedicated hardware for a fraction of the $3000+ companies like Diebold are charging.
Sounds pretty familiar right? Great idea, well thought out plan, reasonable price. Here’s where it gets interesting. Ben Huffman, the creator of Wikifund, believes that there is a fatal flaw in traditional fundraising, “…there is no guarantee that any one contribution will make a difference”. Even more troubling is the question in the back of everyone’s mind, “What happens if they don’t raise enough money to get the job done? Am I throwing this money out the window?”.
Enter Wikifund’s secret weapon, the Assurance Contract. Simply put, an Assurance Contract means that unless you raise enough funds to accomplish the goal (in this case, slightly over a million) then no money ever changes hands, and the project is never initiated. No wasted money, no nagging doubts. It’s all or nothing. To put your mind even further at ease, Wikifund also provides full oversight and transparency. You don’t have to trust your money is being spent wisely, they’ll show you the receipts.
Now, take that powerful little concept and add a highly dynamic system that actually creates competition between the projects (difficult to explain, but very cool), can handle hundreds of thousands of users, the same number of projects, and gives users the power to directly edit any project plan, and you have something worth getting excited about.
Even if you don’t feel like funding a revolution, or buying a mountain, or starting your own world shaking project; pitching in a dollar to save 10 bucks in taxes is a solid investment.
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September 27, 2005