Stand by for the weird and beautiful 'indiepocalypse'

Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014

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Wellington has just had a double-dose of "cool", with almost a thousand people attending technology conference Webstock and film and games conference Animfx to hear from some of the world's top creative minds.

Tom Pullar-Strecker covers some of the highlights from speakers in the first of a two-part report. 

ANDY BAIO

Using the web to solicit donations to fund products, projects and new businesses may seem like a new phenomenon.

But Andy Baio, who helped create crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, is keen to offer a reminder that in previous centuries, almost all art was funded through such patronage.

Kickstarter is the world's largest crowdfunding platform, having helped raise US$840 million (NZ$1 billion) for 56,160 endeavours, ranging from music albums to software projects.

"Every one of those projects managed to make something new and let people keep control over it," Baio says.

He predicts that the world is on the edge of an "indiepocalypse" as crowdfunding, home production, social media and digital distribution let creators and inventors "subvert all the existing monopolies".

For start-ups, crowdfunding has a lot of advantages over seeking venture capital from rich investors who are short-term in their outlook, he says.

"Venture capitalists don't want to invest in companies with long, slow growth. They call them ‘zombies'. Even if they are creating employment and making customers happy, they are worthless to these people - as good as dead, or the ‘undead'.

"All the press goes to these venture capital-funded start-ups with unsustainable growth and narrow business models." But if venture capital backed companies that were successful, and were acquired or floated, that also tended to "suck", he says.

The indiepocalypse was lifting the veil to new way of doing things that put people in control of their destinies. It would be "weird, beautiful and fun", he promised.

TOM LOOSEMOORE

Improving the way government services are delivered in Britain involved losing the stuffiness and strategy documents, says Tom Loosemoore, deputy director of Britain's Government Digital Service (GDS).

"The problem is institutions have forgotten how to change quickly, they only know how to buy technology. It isn't a policy problem - governments love policy - but a delivery crisis.

"You have got to stop making digital services as if you are buying an aircraft carrier. Get some great people, create a great environment, focus on the user need, iterate the ‘how' and do it properly."

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GDS runs Britain's "gov.uk" portal, which last year won Britain's "Design of the Year" award, ahead of competitors from the fashion, furniture and architectural industries.

It has attracted developers and designers who could work for "any digital company in the world", Loosemoore said.

"Contrary to what public institutions sometimes think, people aren't driven by money, generally speaking. What great developers want is to do great work ‘at scale' and the government has that. The only thing stopping these people coming to work in government was the environment and the culture that we had previously, which was just an anathema to them."

Loosemoore dished out advice to New Zealand public servants wanting to shake things up in Wellington. "Don't write a ‘strategy', there is no point," he said.

"Pick your opportunity and run really fast, faster than your organisation can catch you - it shouldn't be that hard. You might risk being fired, but you are not going to struggle to get another job. ‘Show' don't ‘tell'; nothing beats running code."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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