• Category Archives Department of Free Ideas
  • Bloody hell, I thought up Kickstarter

    I just remembered something I posted in April 2006

    In January I was working on a few ideas I had about funding my webcomics and writing. It would be nice to have someone turn up and say “Here’s twenty grand, take a year out to write a novel and learn to paint.” but it’s not going to happen. So how about getting lots of people to give a few pounds each?

    Web Patron would be a scheme to support art that was intended to appear initially or exclusively on the Internet, funded by Internet users. The decision on which projects would get funding would be taken by the people supplying the money.

    The basic funding model

    There would be a pool of projects requiring funding. Applicants would be expected to put up details of their proposal and links to their portfolio for prospective funders to browse.

    Every month ten of these would be put onto the shortlist for funding. Each would have to expand on their case on a page on their own site. Here they could convince voters of the artistic merit of their endeavour.

    Voting would be a simple enough process. A donation buys the right to choose three of the ten nominees. The minimum is a pound and the maximum is unlimited, but if you want to give a lot you’d be better checking the systems for sponsorship and full blown patronage. Votes might be weighted based upon the amount given, there would have to be some investigation of the effect this had on amounts donated. Unlike other sites where people vote, there will be no Top Scores list. I’ve been reading The Wisdom of Crowds and want each voter to make independent decisions.

    At the end of the month votes are tallied and the top five projects get a share of the funding. The losers are free to rejoin the pool at the back of the queue or pull out. The winners, obviously, are removed from the pool, but can apply for funding of other projects in the future. There would, of course, be a section of Web Patron dedicated to succesful projects and press coverage.

    Other funding methods

    As mentioned, there would be other ways to fund projects. Prospective sponsors or patrons could search through the pool of applicants. When they found a project they wanted to be associated with, they could ask for an introduction. The sponsorship or patronage deal would be between the two parties, with no input from Web Patron, but on agreement the applicant would be removed from the pool.

    A sponsorshop variation would see applicants opting in to an ad market, rather than the pool, where sponsors could bidto have their banners seen on the sites they choose. Web Patron would adminiater this and take a cut of the proceeds.

    Paying the way

    Web Patron isn’t intended to be run just for profit, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t benefit from its actions. And it will have to cover its running costs.

    Initially the site will take a cut from the donations to cover expenses. As it grows there will be opportunities for merchandise and a shop selling recipients’ work. Undoubtedly as the brand grew other income streams would present themselves.

    There’s no way I could ever do this at the moment. I have neither the time nor the money. However, I have several pages of notes on the idea if someone would like to take me on as a consultant on the project.

    That sounds like the sort of idea that Kickstarter could have grown from. I don’t think they stole my idea, but it’s nice to pretend. And shows that I should follow up some of these silly ideas I have, rather than giving them away through the Department of Free Ideas, because you never know.


  • Proposal: The ….For Smartys series of books

    During a conversation a few weeks ago I suggested there would be merit in going through The Da Vinci Code and editing out all the bits where Dan Brown treats his readers like idiots. Stuff like the horrendous flashback used to explain phi and the redundant repetition of information because he assumes his readers have tiny attention spans. I reckoned I could cull nearly a third of the verbiage and make it a less painful book to read. It still wouldn’t be great, because it’s a dumb premise, but it could be easier to get through. We’d call it Dan Brown for Smartys.

    Over the weekend I got thinking about other possible ….for Smatys books. The idea could lend itself to so many better uses than improving Dan Brown’s prose. The series title, obviously, is a play on the ….for Dummies books, and they would serve a similar purpose. Despite their name, the ….for Dummies books don’t assume you’re some sort of idiot. I’ve got Blender For Dummies and it’s a great resource. It presumes the reader is an intelligent person who simply hasn’t used the software before and can grasp the concepts providing they’re explained well. The …..for Smartys books would expect intelligent readers and cover areas where the main, or at least loudest, people talking about them assume their audience are morons and can be lied to with impunity.

    Yes, …..for Smartys would mostly cover tabloid fodder and stuff which attracts loud and dissembling deniers. The books would look at claims made around a controversial subject and fact check them, much like blogs such as Five Chinese Crackers do. They would also present the data in cool infographics, just because I’m a fan of cool infographics. Weight would be given to data based upon how many times it had been corroborated, rather than by how much it appealed to the readers presumed prejudices.

    Immigration for Smartys would trace the population of the country back through many censuses as well as using Freedom of Information requests to get councils to reveal who gets to live in council houses (just a hunch, but I doubt “newly arrived immigrants” will top the list, no matter what the Daily Mail may say).

    Climate Change for Smartys would look at the scientific evidence for and against man-made climate change. It would examine the more outlandish claims made for global warming as well as the those that it’s not happening at all. It would also run a side by side projection for a do-nothing family and a make-a-change family to see who is better off, even if all the evidence is wrong and there is no climate change. The no-changers would keep their car, not bother insulating their house etc. The make-a-changes would trade in for a smaller, more efficient vehicle, which they used less, upgrade insulation, upgrade their heating, install solar panels etc. There would be a comparison of expenditure, which would be easy enough, and a less scientific look at quality of life.

    I don’t know if an Evolution for Smartys would be necessary. I’d mostly point people at The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Dawkins can be strident, but he knows his subject and explains it well.

    Religion for Smartys would be a tricky one, because some people can’t help but get violent over their choice of deity. I imagine it as a timeline from the earliest known religions through to the present day with pullouts for similarity of themes and recurring motifs. There’d also be a “Who do you hate and who do you love?” section which would list the various things and peoples considered evil or divine across several holy books.

    All I need now is a publisher willing to put up the money needed to fund me whilst I do the research and design the graphics.


  • Ceci n’est pas un rendezvous

    I find myself re-watching C’etait Un Rendezvous at least once a year for various reasons. Today it’s because of an idea I had last night.

    In Rendezvous a film camera was strapped to the front bumper of a Mercedes and the film’s director, Claude Lelouch, drove it at speed through early morning Paris, ending up at Montmartre. My idea is that, as camera equipment has become so much lighter over the years, you could fasten a camera to a bike and, starting where the original ended, do a similarly mad early morning ride. There’s no way it could follow the same route, so it would have to finish at a landmark, ideally the Eiffel tower or at least the banks of the Seine with a view of the tower. I’ve only visited the city once, off the top of my head I can’t come up with an exact route.

    Then my idea expanded a touch. Several manufacturers, such as Panasonic, are releasing 3D capable consumer video cameras. Wouldn’t shooting such a film with one of their cameras make for a great promo. I may have to put together a proposal.

    I’d need a middle weight full suspension mountain bike- it wouldn’t have to be as tough as a full on downhiller- and a pro or semi-pro downhill rider to ride it, an apartment near the start point for a few weeks to use as the base of operations, and a 3D telly to watch the rushes on. And maybe their legal department, but I’d try to avoid that. Paris isn’t that hilly a city, but it’s where you’d want to film if it was to be a proper homage. Other ideas were to shoot it in Edinburgh or San Francisco. I’m sure there are other hilly cities.

    And, because there’s no way I could mention it without including it, here’s C’etait Un Rendezvous-


  • There’s usually someone who can say what I want to say a little bit better

    Charles Stross on the Abdelbaset Al Megrahi release and the incomprehensible attitude of some Americans to healthcare reform. No doubt I’ll weigh in on the healthcare thing again, but on Megrahi can I just say that the people who’ve displayed weakness in this whole affair haven’t been the Scottish authorities but those who have wailed that the scots are somehow weak for following their own laws and not bowing to outside pressure. The circus that greeted Megrahi on return to Libya wasn’t Kenny MacAskill’s doing and should serve as a warning to all those, here and abroad, who want to trade with Gaddafy- many in his counry hate us and we shouldn’t get complacent about that.

    Having said all that, I can’t help but think that there’s a dark thriller waiting in compassionate release. Supposedly reformed gangster with only a few weeks to live is released, only to set out to avenge the death of his wife and child/ get the people who set him up/ clear the ground for his heir/ all of the above. Give it all a granite grey tone, violence in front of Edinburgh’s or Glasgow’s grander buildings and have a Highland finale with the heather turning the colour of blood as the sun sets on the fallen bodies.


  • Department of Free Ideas- Give me Liberty City Extreme

    Musing on my comment from the last post I went off on a tangent, thinking about the traffic in Liberty City. I came to the logical conclusion that, were the cross town traffic to increase, they might want to introduce bikes to the mix. The presence of BMXs and at least one mountain bike in San Andreas was fun. From these musings grew an idea for a game I’d love to see.

    We’ve only tried one skateboarding game on the 360, and we weren’t that impressed. Given the scope for expanding the environment that this generation of consoles gives, simply rehashing locations from an earlier game in the series didn’t do a lot for us. Skate may address some of this, but casa Spinneyhead hasn’t experienced it yet.

    What I want to see is a city with the detail level of Liberty City with players given the freedom to grind, jump, tag and climb it. As well as the obvious stunt competitions there’d be other challenges. BMX bikes would be supplemented with single speed courier steeds- allowing players to earn cash rushing across town with packages or take part in Alley Cat races– mountain bikes for rides in Middle park and cruisers for trolling around looking cool. There’d be longboard skateboards and street luges for the speed freaks, and a couple of really good hills to set time and speed records on. You’d be able to tag and graffiti buildings, with notoriety points accrued based on a combination of artwork complexity and building profile. The rooftops, alleys and street furniture could be used for free running. Wannabe spider men could climb the Empire State building and Base jumpers could sneak their ‘chutes past security and leap off the top of it. The online version could see graffiti swapping and virtual geocaching.

    That’s just ten minute’s worth of ideas, No doubt I’ll start coming up with more as soon as I post. This is a free idea, because I really want to play this game, but if anyone wants to pay me to brainstorm scenarios I’m always available.


  • If you can make it there

    Bryony Gordon wonders why film makers like to destroy New York. It was I Am Legend before Christmas and Cloverfield coming soon. Previously there’s been Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, Die Hard With A Vengeance, to mention just the first three that come to mind.

    New York gets nuked so often because it’s familiar, and it’s cool to see places you recognise getting trashed. Of course, the reason New York’s so familiar is because it features in so many films, and it features in so many films because it’s so familiar. (Of course, this all had to start somewhere and it would be interesting to find out how the Myth of New York got started.) So if you’re planning a blockbuster movie then you might as well start thinking of which Manhattan landmarks you can work into the script.

    Which is the conclusion I came to earlier today whilst crossing an idea I had a while ago with I Am Legend (I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ve seen The Omega Man, so I have a rough idea).

    When I first heard about Famagusta, a ghost town on Cyprus, there was a mention of all the safety deposit boxes being left in banks in the town. What if one of those boxes contained a few million in diamonds, or some other treasure or MacGuffin and an intrepid gang sneaked in under the eyes of the UN to carry out a very special bank job? This morphed into The Berlin Job, which was going to be a late forties raid on an alternate universe nuked Berlin to raid Nazi art stashes. The true purpose of the story being to reveal the lengths the Soviets and Americans would go to to hide the the truth about the end of the war- that Hitler had been assassinated hours before so Germany could surrender to the Americans, but the city had still been nuked to stop the Soviet advance and warn them to back off.

    Yesterday’s variation featured a city hit by a terrorist release of a deadly toxin or virus. The city is cordoned off, with bridges destroyed, tunnels flooded and a big wall erected. Cue, a few years later, our intrepid thieves. However, once they get in, and find out that the way out is a lot less simple than they thought, they discover the secret the Government’s not been telling them. The people the virus didn’t kill went quite, quite mad.

    It might be simpler to create a Raccoon City for this little apocalypse, but who can resist the temptation of an abandoned Times Square with some poor soul’s last sane message scrawled across one of the billboards?


  • Department of Free Ideas- Web Patron

    In January I was working on a few ideas I had about funding my webcomics and writing. It would be nice to have someone turn up and say “Here’s twenty grand, take a year out to write a novel and learn to paint.” but it’s not going to happen. So how about getting lots of people to give a few pounds each?

    Web Patron would be a scheme to support art that was intended to appear initially or exclusively on the Internet, funded by Internet users. The decision on which projects would get funding would be taken by the people supplying the money.

    The basic funding model

    There would be a pool of projects requiring funding. Applicants would be expected to put up details of their proposal and links to their portfolio for prospective funders to browse.

    Every month ten of these would be put onto the shortlist for funding. Each would have to expand on their case on a page on their own site. Here they could convince voters of the artistic merit of their endeavour.

    Voting would be a simple enough process. A donation buys the right to choose three of the ten nominees. The minimum is a pound and the maximum is unlimited, but if you want to give a lot you’d be better checking the systems for sponsorship and full blown patronage. Votes might be weighted based upon the amount given, there would have to be some investigation of the effect this had on amounts donated. Unlike other sites where people vote, there will be no Top Scores list. I’ve been reading The Wisdom of Crowds and want each voter to make independent decisions.

    At the end of the month votes are tallied and the top five projects get a share of the funding. The losers are free to rejoin the pool at the back of the queue or pull out. The winners, obviously, are removed from the pool, but can apply for funding of other projects in the future. There would, of course, be a section of Web Patron dedicated to succesful projects and press coverage.

    Other funding methods

    As mentioned, there would be other ways to fund projects. Prospective sponsors or patrons could search through the pool of applicants. When they found a project they wanted to be associated with, they could ask for an introduction. The sponsorship or patronage deal would be between the two parties, with no input from Web Patron, but on agreement the applicant would be removed from the pool.

    A sponsorshop variation would see applicants opting in to an ad market, rather than the pool, where sponsors could bidto have their banners seen on the sites they choose. Web Patron would adminiater this and take a cut of the proceeds.

    Paying the way

    Web Patron isn’t intended to be run just for profit, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t benefit from its actions. And it will have to cover its running costs.

    Initially the site will take a cut from the donations to cover expenses. As it grows there will be opportunities for merchandise and a shop selling recipients’ work. Undoubtedly as the brand grew other income streams would present themselves.

    There’s no way I could ever do this at the moment. I have neither the time nor the money. However, I have several pages of notes on the idea if someone would like to take me on as a consultant on the project.

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  • Department of Free Ideas

    I’m not really interested in writing superhero comics (unless Marvel wants to offer me Union Jack or Excalibur), but every so often I have an idea that could be really cool. It seems a shame to keep those ideas hidden, so I’m going to present the basics of my most recent-

    Father and Son- A Proposal

    Tommy loves his Dad. His father can do no wrong. In fact, he’s a hero.

    Robert Dornan is just another middle manager, trying to get through the day without being downsized or doing any real work. His boss is stealing all the ideas he stole from his underlings, the stock options are worth nothing and his wife’s just told him he wants a divorce.

    This is entirely the wrong time to start flying. Or shooting energy beams from his fingers. And the costume he keeps finding under his work clothes is different every time, though it always looks like it was drawn by a child. If he’s dressed as a superhero then he might as well act as one. Truth be told, he can’t help himself.

    Of course, it isn’t Robert who has the superpowers, but Tommy. His ability to warp reality is limited but powerful. Right now he idolises his father, a distant, powerful figure who knows everything. In the sketches he does it’s always Daddy wearing the gaudy suit and saving the day.

    Robert’s superpowers depend a lot on Tommy’s opinion of him. As his son grows older, and the divorce progresses, anything could happen. What if his (ex) wife finds a new boyfriend and Tommy likes him more? What if Robert tells Tommy off just before a supervillain rolls into town?

    Since the Marvel Age began, superhero comics have been as much about the heroes relationships with their families as the villains they battle. For one hero that relationship is even more important than ever.

    Consider this to be under Creative Commons. Run with it if you like it, create derivative works, sell it to a comics company. But please attach “From an original idea by Ian Pattinson” on it somewhere. (And a slice of any deal would be nice too.)

    Originally published as a Cycling on the Pavement article.

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