Lawrence Lessig’s Mayday.us just raised a lot of money…to help get the money out of politics by campaigning to elect five politicians who will enact campaign finance reform. This morning the Super PAC hit its $5 million grassroots fundraising goal thanks to 47,000 supporters, which will be matched by $5 million in donations from wealthy tech luminaries. Combined with the $1 million it crowdfunded earlier this year that was matched by Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, TED’s Chris Anderson, and Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham brings Mayday to it full $12 million funding goal before this year’s mid-term elections.
The Mayday website is here.
It’s somewhat mind-blowing (and dismaying) that crowd-funding is under-utilized, as late as 2014, but I’m glad to see that this is starting to change, as evidenced by the mayday.us effort.
The Focus Fusion crowdsourcing campaign just ended*, and while it didn’t get 100% of it’s target, it did get 90%, which ain’t too shabby. A solar road crowdfunding project, which I have some doubts about (but nevertheless seems plausible enough to be worth trying**) got 220% of it’s funding goal (which was 1 million dollars).
I take all these as hopeful signs in trying, and dark days. Reading political blogs can be depressing, not only because of the dearth of intelligent strategizing and cost/benefit analyses, but also because so many participants don’t even have a fundamentally problem-solving approach to issues that they care about. They seem to be more interested in tribalism and, amongst the most egregiously primitive, more about flinging verbal poo, then actually changing anything.
Neither the “analysis paralysis” intellectuals, nor the fundamentally emotional tribalists get it. They are powerless, and on a trajectory for continued, if not greater, powerlessness.
Lessig gets it, and has taken intelligent action. Good for him, and good for us. Well done, Mr. Lessig.
* Focus Fusion owns the record (or did about a year ago) for highest temperature attained in human-created fusion reaction. This was accomplished at a tiny fraction of the funding of the big, hot fusion research projects. See In the race for fusion, a dark horse takes the lead It’s not only an extremely green (= low environmental impact) technology, but (AFAICT) the most promising route to viable, hot fusion.
** The solar roadways project raised $2,200,716. Meanwhile, US bubble gum sales in 2009 were $3.71 billion. Even if the solar roadways project turns out to be a total bust, the cost to society, overall, was effectively 0, IMO.
And if it turns out not to be a bust, the contribution to energy sources in the US could be worth $billions.
Picture from Joi Ito licensed under Creative Commons