How Cool is Your City?

If you’re not familiar with the crowd-sourced art-funding site Kickstarter.com, go and have a look. This is a wonderful idea. People submit proposals for various kinds of cool projects to the site, which then posts them. The submitters say they’ll do the project if they can raise a certain amount of money, typically a couple thousand dollars. People can then pledge an amount to support the project. If they make their goal, the pledges are redeemed, and the pledgers get something from the project. It can be a discount on a CD, an early look at it, anything. If they don’t make their goal, no one owes anything.

I pledged for Blocklets, because I’m a sucker for construction toys. Probably the biggest success so far is Joulies, stainless steel coffee beans that cool your coffee to 140 degrees and then keep it there.  They asked for $9500 and raised $300,000; there are a lot of people with burned lips in the world. The site as a whole is raising millions a month, and has tens of thousands of projects.  About half meet their goals.  The site takes 5% of the amount raised, and Amazon handles the payments.

They list projects by city, so you can support your local talent.  I was curious about which cities are doing the most projects,  so I downloaded the number of projects for the 50 largest cities in the US.  New York is doing the most projects, of course, since it’s far and away the largest city and one of the most vibrant.     It’s more interesting, though, to find the number of projects per capita, since that tells you what the density of talent is in a town.  Here’s what it looks like as of today:


The city population data is from here and is for 2010.

So Portland is the coolest city in the USA!  That about jibes.   The rest of the top cities are also about what you would expect, with Atlanta and Minneapolis being pleasant surprises.   New York and Los Angeles have far and away the most projects, but are huge cities, and almost distinct countries.

As Kickstarter proceeds, I hope they do some statistics on their projects, the way that the dating site OK Cupid has on its hilarious blog OKTrends.   It would be interesting to know the characteristics of the projects that succeed in getting funding.  Do they tend to be art, music, sculpture, gizmos?   Are they big or small?  How much do they offer their pledgers?   It would be a chance to do some sociology on art!

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