Kickstarter, analytical training and a bit of fun
I’m a huge fan of the idea behind Kickstarter. Never heard of it? It goes like this:
Kickstarter provides a forum for people to pitch ‘projects’ to the great masses on the internet. If people like your pitch and project (maybe a film, a book, or putting together a ‘plasma speaker’ whatever that is) they contribute money to you. If you meet a funding goal, determine by you at the outset, then you get the money and your donors almost always get some sort of gifts (also predetermined by you) based on their donation level. So, if you’re writing a book maybe someone donating $15 gets a pdf copy. Someone donating $500 gets you to cook them dinner and they can eat while you read some passages to them and some of their closest friends. Whatever.
The New York Times has a story about what separates the winners from the losers in Kickstarter campaigns:
Getting heard about entails a second creative project to drive the central one. You don’t have to make a video, but most money seekers do, and the successful ones avoid making it too slickly ad-like or blatantly amateurish; lighthearted hints that the creator is a little uncomfortable asking for money are a recurring trope. Taking the time to come up with creative, memorable rewards is more likely to get results.
So, I’ve been thinking about Kickstarter and how incredibly cool AND totally reliant on the social/collaborative/user generated aspects of the interwebs it is and, at the same time, thinking about the rather staid and unexciting landscape of analytical training today. Much of the training out there (even the good stuff) is prepared, packaged and fed to analysts with the students having little input or say in the course other than whether to attend or not when the circus rolls into town.
Or, I should say ‘if’ the circus rolls into town because let’s not kid ourselves here. There are a lot of agencies that don’t provide their analysts with training and even some organization that might be interested in such training but because they aren’t part of the security/public safety industry can’t get it or aren’t big enough.
But, what if you had people (oh, I don’t know…a group of brilliant do-gooders with experience in the field, for example) who developed training for analysts and funded it with Kickstarter? I’m not talking the same old, tired and well trod ground of ‘what’s a link matrix’ sort of course, but more specific and practical.
Kickstarter could be a great way to find out if there’s a niche out there for such a course AND make it relevant to analysts. How?
Well, take this project for example. It’s for a new game called The Demolished Ones. The interesting thing is that at a certain level of funding ($75 here) the contributor actually has input in the game. That may be plot points, rules, whatever (within boundaries of the game designers to keep the think coherent). So, a project like this could allow contributors of a certain level have input in the final course (perhaps in terms of subject matter, delivery system -audio, video, written-, who knows?)
Such a project could also reflect the needs of analysts quicker than the existing course creation regime which has to wait a very long time for needs to bubble to the surface of the community, (usually) wait for a grant to be issued, approve of the material and then slowly spread out.
Of course, this system would have a serious (?) drawback of not being plugged into any ‘official’ approval process but that’s not really the point, is it? I suspect that analysts are more concerned about learning skills while administrative weenies can do their thing and arrange whatever required training is called for.
So, what say you? Is there any interest in small, quickly produced (but hopefully high quality) intelligence courses that would be marketed to individual analysts (rather than to agencies)?