An Unusual Commission

Mark Harris:

I’ve accepted a commission to write a story about the collapse of the Zano drone project on Kickstarter, its largest project ever to have been funded in Europe.

In itself, that’s hardly news. I’ve written a number of investigative features in the past, and have covered crowdfunding numerous times, too. Usually, I work for technology editors at newspapers like The Guardian and The Economist, magazines like Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum and MIT Technology Review, or online publications like Backchannel and Quartz.

This time, however, I’ve been commissioned by Kickstarter itself. The company wants to help the backers of this failed project get the information they are entitled to under their agreement with the project creator. They would like to uncover the story of Zano, from its inception to the present, and decided that the best way to do that was to hire a journalist. The primary audience for the story is the 12,000+ backers of the project, although I will also make the story publicly available once I’ve completed it, most likely in the middle of January.

Fascinating — and I think admirable — move by Kickstarter.

Thursday, 10 December 2015