The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Step 1 to receiving money on Kickstarter: Give back.

This tree visulation looks at common uses of “pledgers” in phrases that were part of funded projects. (Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert/Georgia Tech)
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Here’s a look at six ideas that could impact the way we live, work and play.

1. Those who give will get the most on Kickstarter.

We’ve seen incredible successes such as Pebble raise millions on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding  Web site has strengthened businesses that wouldn’t have survived without donations from total strangers. So how can an entrepreneur improve his or her chances of a successful Kickstarter campaign?

Researchers at Georgia Tech examined how the language used in pitches can impact whether a campaign is successfully funded. They looked at 45,000 projects to see which phrases appeared in projects that failed and those that didn’t.

“When people were promising gifts — phrases that were associated with reciprocity or promising gifts — those projects were the most funded,” said Tanushree Mitra, one of the researchers. When one appears to be begging or groveling for funding, success was less likely.

Their findings illustrated the rules of reciprocity and scarcity. Give a person a small gift and then request a medium-size gift, and he or she will likely reciprocate and give the gift. Potential donors may be swayed by knowing they will receive a perk or some sort of token of appreciation.

Scarce resources are naturally more attractive and fought over, much like the last of a given toy in a store leading up to Christmas. A successful Kickstarter campaign might warn that a given model of a product will not be available when the product is launched widely.

2. ‘Present Shock’. It’s the phrase at the center of media theorist Douglass Rushkoff’s new piece in Politico Magazine. It refers not to gifts, but to the here and now. Rushkoff sees a threat from a world that has sped up in the age of Internet connections and tweets.

Our leaders’ ability to articulate goals, organize movements or even approach long-term solutions has been stymied by an obsession—on their part and ours—with the now. Unless we adapt to this new presentism, and soon, we may edge more dangerously close to political paralysis.

Rushkoff views the current world as one that’s not amenable to efforts that will develop and endure over time:

A person like Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t be able to rally people to realize his great dream today. He would be as desperate for hourly retweets as the rest of us, gathering “likes” from followers on Facebook as a substitute for marching with them.

Do you buy that? We’ve seen social media play a significant role in the Arab Spring. And proponents of same-sex marriage have built considerable momentum in the United States despite — or perhaps in part because of — Facebook and Twitter.

3. Reinventing the receipt.

I’m always struck by how many unwanted paper receipts pile up next to registers at eateries. Whether it’s our laziness or the ability to track purchases online, people seem less interested in receipts. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square, hasn’t given up on them. Via Buzzfeed:

“What if we see the receipt more as a publishing medium — a product unto itself that people actually want to take home, that they want to engage with, be fully interactive with?” Dorsey asked. … The Square Wallet app, which lets users pay with merchants using Square over the Internet without taking out a card, is essentially “the receipt as a full-blown application.”

4. A post-TMI age? We’re all familiar with TMI, too much information. You really didn’t need to hear about thatFrom New York Magazine:

There is no such thing as TMI on the Internet. We are living in a post-TMI age, and everyone needs to deal with it. Preferably by using the “unfollow” button. … If you follow someone on Twitter and you find that her tweets are too much for you, then you may unfollow her. If you continually recoil at TMI, it’s because you lack the willpower to stop consuming (or foresight to avoid) the information in question. That’s your fault.

5. The benefits of waking early and brainstorming. Imagine setting your alarm 30 minutes early and using that time to generate ideas while laying in your bed. From Fast Company:

I was too groggy in the early morning to start second-guessing my ideas as I often do when I’m showered, caffeinated, and sitting at my desk to work. It’s almost like my creative mind, for lack of a better term, was on autopilot those early mornings, spitting words on the page with no time for judgment.

6. Sustainable kidnapping. We’ll end on a humorous note. Here’s a funny parody of the traditional Kickstarter video: