A $50,000+ potato salad could eat crowd-funding

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New Zealand Listener | By Toby Manhire In The Internaut | July 15, 2014

Potato saladWhen the history of crowdfunding is written, potato salad may get its own chapter.

The Kickstarter platform is typically used by people trying to raise money to manufacture a gadget or undertake an artistic project. Zack Danger Brown of Ohio wants to make a potato salad, and all he needs is $10.

He explains his goal: “Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.”

Under the “risks and challenges header”, this: “It might not be that good. It’s my first potato salad.”

The project has struck an online chord, winning much mirth and sharing, on social media and in reports. The amount pledged has fluctuated a bit, as backers can alter their contributions until the shut-off today, but it’s fair to say it’s going to do OK.

At the time of writing, with still 18 days to run, more than 6,000 people had between them pledged $50,011.

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It’s so much that there have even been calls to donate the funds to charity.

In a post at the New Yorker, Ian Crouch persuasively dismisses the give-it-to-charity line, and goes on to survey some of the spin-off projects. “Among the comments on Brown’s page are links to all kinds of other hop-on projects: Idaho potatoes for the potato-salad party that Brown has promised to throw in Ohio; beer for the party, too. There are at least two competing campaigns for coleslaw.”

There is even, I kid you not, an Flappy Bird Potato Salad mashup project: Flappy Potato Salad.

But what does it all mean?

Musician and crowdfunding advocate Amanda Palmer says in a blog post that people are paying “because they are finding joy and connection in the act of funding a potato salad”, adding: “Andy Warhol would be so fucking proud. So would the dadaists.”

Others suggest it might mark a turning point for crowdfunding – an approach which has been both hailed as a transformation in fundraising and dismissed as an overhyped aberration.

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