How crowdfunding is like high school pre-calc

Did you know that the success of most crowdfunding campaigns rides on the contributions of extended family and friends?

And did you know that Hannaton’s winery, Jezreel Valley Winery, launched an indiegogo campaign last week?

By the transitive power of equality (or something very similar) YOU are the key to our crowdfunding success.

I live on Hannaton. So does the winery. The owners, Jacob and Yehuda, are my good friends. You are my good friends. So (here comes the part where Cherry Hill High School East feels as if pre-calc wasn’t wasted on me).

I drew this. That's you and me and wine. And, of course. love.

I drew this. That’s you and me and wine. And, of course. love.

 

You are the winery’s extended family and friends.

Your contribution — even a small one — will make a big difference in our success. (Disclaimer: I say “our” because I am on the winery’s team for this crowdfunding project. I do not own shares in the winery.)

What’s crowdfunding?

Only the best thing to happen to entrepreneurs since  free wireless.

Crowdfunding let’s you pitch your business idea or social initiative to your friends, family and interested strangers, and in most cases, offers a “perk” or a “return” in product instead of actual shares in the business.

People have written and published books using funds from crowdfunding campaigns; produced documentaries; and even funded a 3D printer pen that allows your drawings to become real! The most popular sites for crowdfunding business ideas are indiegogo and kickstarter. There’s even one specifically for Israel tech start-ups called Our Crowd (it’s equity-based and geared more towards traditional angel investors.) Friends of mine in NJ started Umojawa, a crowdfunding platform for educational initiatives and programs for youth.

Crowdfunding, to me, is a huge opportunity for people with ideas, with dreams. It’s one of the best things about the internet. And a little bit addictive.

So … please take a minute to click through to the Jezreel Valley Winery campaign page on indiegogo. What you’ll get in return if you contribute?

For $25, you’ll get a Jezreel Valley Winery winestopper and a 10% discount on wine for the rest of your lives! (The winery ships to the U.S.)

It only gets better above $25 (more discounts, more wine … and event a free wedding or bar mitzvah hosted at the winery. A great perk if you’re planning your kid’s bar mitzvah in Israel anyway.)

Why does this campaign matter? Contributing allows you to connect to Israel in a very meaningful way. The winery is a true start-up based on a dream. Two guys had an idea. Shook hands on it. Got it up off the ground running, grew some grapes, made some great kosher wine, won some awards and now they want to expand their operations.

For me, that’s inspiring and motivating.

Invest in their success!

Jezreel Valley wine in my kitchen

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not the me you think I am

In the days since the Justine Sacco twitter incident (which has officially been labeled a mob by the New York Times), I’ve spent a little time on a project that I’ve been meaning to focus on for a while:

Cleaning up my internet bread crumbs

You see: I’ve been at this a while. This thing I call “sharing of myself with strangers.”

I’ve been writing and posting opinion pieces, and uploading and approving photos of myself online since … well, at least since 1997. That’s as far back as I am able to trace myself though I imagine a stalker or a fairly good sleuth with a wad of cash with my name on it could identify earlier instances. Let’s hope that the first doesn’t exist, and the second never does.

For most of those 17 internet loving years, I stood firmly by the belief that sharing was good; identity theft was bad; and that since there was no way to stop people bent on investigating you or stealing your credit cards, why not position yourself in the light you prefer.

There was one little detail I didn’t pay attention to.

It’s that the light I want to shine in is ever shifting.

Even more so, there may come a time when I don’t desire the light. When I prefer to be hidden in the shadows.

Shadow me

Shadow me

If one day, a mob were after me, they’d find judgmental rants I am now ashamed of; they’d unearth unkind comments that were written on an off day; and they’d be able to amass a decent collection of really unattractive photographs of me in really unfashionable clothing (especially if they come across any from 2001 – 2003).

They’d find pictures of my kids that were cute in context, but now seem inappropriate. They’d stumble upon references to wacky dreams I’ve had or remembrances of drunken bodily performances. They’d certainly find articles written in a voice that is no longer mine; in a tone I no longer wish to express myself in.

I am not the girl you will find on a Google search.

I’m not even the girl who began this blog in 2011.

I’m someone else entirely.

In the cleaning up of the bread crumbs of me, I began by deleting or making private any online content I thought might embarrass my growing children. An effort of Herculean proportions that I will certainly never complete to their satisfaction.

Next, I tried to dig up the most obnoxious, off-the-cuff public statements I’ve made over the past year or two on Twitter or Facebook. Things I meant in jest, but might one day be held against me in a court of rash, cruel, public opinion.

But I know — even as I do this —

I know

That my efforts are nearly inconsequential.

Because what is appropriate now might one day not be. And what I see as an innocent or well-intentioned sharing of myself  could, at some point, be used to position me as anything from self-centered to irresponsible to crazy.

What do you do with that knowledge?

Do you unplug completely? Do you spit in the face of future detractors?

Or do you do what any good lawyer would tell you to do?

Add a disclaimer.

disclaimer jen

 

 

Why I am more appalled by the internet than by Justine

In the ongoing, yet soon to be old news saga of PR professional Justine Sacco, Gawker has surprisingly (not!) tarred and feathered a woman, and called it “reporting the news.”

When I saw the #hasjustinelandedyet saga in a friend’s Facebook feed over the weekend, I was drawn in. It was hashtagging at its best, after all. Alluring. Personal. Clever. With a hint of snark.

However, I was too busy monitoring a group of rowdy eleven year old boys shooting themselves with balls of paint in celebration of one boy’s birthday — my boy’s.  Smartphone occupied more by Instagram than by Twitter, I didn’t get as sucked into the online conversation as I might have otherwise, but feel compelled to contribute my two cents this morning after reading the Gawker story.

What’s really bugging me?

The majority — who assumes Justine is a disgusting piece of crap that doesn’t deserve to be called a human being. And the majority — who feels holier than thou enough to write about it.

And really? The disgusting piece of crap that doesn’t deserve to be called human?

It’s the internet.

The internet, which has determined that one really awful statement typed into a keyboard or a device registered to a human being determines who and what that human being is.

The internet, which in general, didn’t really consider the (albeit, unlikely) possibility that Justine was hacked.

Which, frankly, seems possible to me.  I’m a communications professional — one with a big mouth and strong opinions. The first thing to smell fishy to me about this was the idea of a PR person showcasing her racist side on her Twitter account.

It’s really, really unlikely.

PR people can be ugly and awful. But they’re usually really, really good at making the rest of the world think otherwise.

My first reaction, instead, to reports of Justine’s racist AIDS tweet was, “She’s either drunk, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, or she’s been hacked.” Call me level-headed (or, in the end, call me naive), but my first reaction wasn’t:

“FIRE THE EVIL BITCH!!!!!!!  HUMILIATE HER, FIRST!!!! THEN FIRE HER!!!!!”

The second thing that’s getting my goat about this story is the “trial by twitter” era that we live in. Even if Justine is truly a racist, not just a stupid person or a drunk person or a person who made a bad, impulsive decision, I feel more sick by humanity’s reaction to this story —  fire her! excommunicate her! humiliate her! — than I do by the unacceptable remark made by the possibly stupid or drunk person who made it.

What are we rallying around here people?

Are we truly rallying around the fight against racism? Around our empowering ability to use social media for good?

Or are we just scared little animals waiting like vultures to pounce on road kill because pouncing makes us feel strong?

More than anything, this story makes me want to leave the internet.

I don’t want to be around to find out the truth behind Justine’s remark.

I don’t want to be around to hear her apology, or explanation, or the internet’s remorse when she hangs herself because she is so shamed by the very public and unfair trial she got on Twitter.

Gawker, of course, will be the first one to write, TWO TEENS CLEARED OF CRIMINAL CHARGE IN THE TWITTER-INSPIRED BULLYING DEATH OF PR PROFESSIONAL.

And then all of Twitter, with sorrow and regret in their hearts, will hashtag #nomorejustines.

I don’t want to be around to be the person the internet tars and feathers next.

Seriously, internet, I want to leave you on days like today.

I want to break up with you forever and forget about all the good times we had.

All the community building.

All the activism.

All the kickstarting.

Days like today make me sick of you.

Do your dreams predict your Facebook feed?

I’m entering dangerous territory.

Dreamland.

Dreams — and how they figure into our waking lives — fascinate me. I don’t remember which came first —  my vibrant dream life or my wonder for that version of reality. But both have been with me since childhood.

What’s curious to me these days is lucid dreaming and predictive dreaming, both of which I seem to be getting better at.

The other night, for instance, I noticed I was in the middle of a super frightening nightmare, and I willed myself awake.  Not bad, I thought, when I woke up in a sweat. Now how do I start teaching myself how to fly?

For the past year or so, I’ve occasionally (a few times a month) experienced deja vu during the day in which I am certain I dreamt the interaction already the night before. Nothing momentous; in fact, regular every day occurrences that have a particular interesting twist. Not just the regular drop off at my daughter’s preschool, for instance, but one in which her classmate starts to speak to me in Russian.

I’ve read that such predictive dreaming is, in fact, not uncommon. Famous physicist Russell Targ (most well-known for his work with the military on remote viewing) writes about his own experience with precognitive dreams “predicting” newspaper headlines that he’d then read the next day.

But here’s a peculiar phenomenon I haven’t come across yet in reading on the subject of dreams, and I’m wondering if any of you have: Sometimes I dream my Facebook feed before it happens.

I have 851 Facebook friends. I’m pretty well aware of the 50 or so who appear regularly in my feed. So that when I dream of someone far away — who is not present in my day-to-day interactions and who is not one of the regular 50 people who appear in my feed — and that person shows up in my Facebook feed the next day, I am … to say the least … startled. Like, “Hey you, weren’t you just randomly in my dream last night? What are you doing in my Facebook face?”

Is there an algorithm to explain that experience? I say that only half-facetiously. There probably IS an algorithm to explain that. (If so, please share it, and if possible, in graphic novel format, which is how I best understand geek.)

In addition to dreaming about someone the day before they show up in my feed, I have, on multiple occasions, been talking about something with my colleague at work during the lunch hour — something seemingly obscure — only to find the topic being explored in an article posted by one of my Facebook friends in my feed when I return from lunch. As if Facebook was eavesdropping on our conversation.

Is there an algorithm for that? For overhearing a discussion on, let’s say, the ecosystem of the gut after eating meat or milk? Is there an internet worm crawling from our ears, our minds, and back into “the system?”

I know that readers of this blog span the spectrum of futurists believing we already live in the Matrix to religious devotees who believe the Bible literally happened. (And I appreciate that diversity!)

So tell me:  what do you think? Does this ever happen to you, too?

Is it more common than I think,  this transmission from mind to physical matter (our computers) and back again?

Or am I naive to think of “the internet” as matter, at all? Isn’t it, too, mind?