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Kicks Picks: Memes, Star Wars Dreams and Outer Space Stylus Schemes

kicks picks
We've selected our favorite and most promising Kickstarter projects, and spoke with the creators about why they deserve your time (and money). Check them out for yourself, and if these bright young things inspire you, maybe you can help launch their dreams into reality.

Kickstarter doesn't have to be about changing the world -- the simple design of a well-crafted stylus may be groundbreaking enough anyway. But projects that aim to tell stories from all over -- about a visionary artist from a powerful, secretive country or a couple of kids with a 'Star Wars' dream -- is a good way to start.


The Cosmonaut: A Wide-Gripped Stylus for Touch Screens

CosmonautWho: Dan Provost and Tom Gerhardt are a New York-based design duo who run the geek-loving design firm Neat.
What They Hope To Do: Writing on a touch screen is nothing like using a pen, so why do accessory makers keep trying to make our styluses Bic-like? The two designers believe that the experience of navigating around a tablet is more like writing on a whiteboard, which means that a wider, more marker-like object made out of conductive rubber would be more pleasant to use.
Incentive We Want Most: The original pay-what-you-want incentive for the first 3,000 supporters netted each early bird their own Cosmonaut, but since that has run out, we'd love the $25 version so we can have a 'Naut of our own.
In His Own Words: The guys explain why the stylus is a cosmonaut: "The name came from two places. First, it's a nod to the 'Russians used a pencil' urban legend. We also liked it because the stylus itself looks a little bit like a space shuttle."
Money Raised As Of April 1 (19 days left to go): $85,332 of $50,000

Kids Star Wars Musical Documentary

Star Wars MusicalWho: Tim Larson and Heidi Burkey, founders of The Counter Productions, followed around the preteens of Anaheim's Arts and Learning Children's Conservatory while they put on an 'Empire Strikes Back' musical. (Yes, you read that right.)
What They Hope To Do: The project has all the makings of a heart-warmer: Tim and Heidi followed the kids from casting and rehearsal to the final performance, documenting the process as the youngsters found their own inner Han Solos. Now they have nearly 200 hours of footage, and they need some help with the editing and post-production to tell their story.
Incentive We Want Most: The $35 option is chock-filled with goodies, from photos to exclusive clips to a poster. Oh, and the DVD too. But the $3000 director's visit might give some hilarious insight into the dramatic inner workings of children's theater.
In Their Own Words: They told us, "Over the last few years the theater company we worked with has gone and told all of the 'Star Wars' films in musical form with youth, but we chose to follow their production of 'The Empire Strikes Back' because it is a 'Star Wars' favorite. It seems to carry a lot of themes of self discovery and growth, which we feel students at that age can identify with. Plus, it has Yoda, and who doesn't like Yoda." Good point, guys.
Money Raised As Of April 1 (44 days left to go): $4,263 of $8,000

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

Ai Weiwei: Never SorryWho: 'Never Sorry' was shot entirely by Alison Klayman, a New York-based journalist who just came back from almost a five-year-long stint in China. She also followed artist Ai Weiwei on her travels, collecting footage and documenting his ride to fame.
What They Hope To Do: Ai Weiwei is certainly one of China's most visible, vocal and accomplished artists currently working. With a public exhibition at Central Park and a solo show at the Tate Modern, his open criticism of his own country has an international audience, and according to Klayman, it's a surprise the artist is not in jail -- though the Chinese government is monitoring his movements. Now Klayman wants to take the footage and turn it into a film about the complex nature of being a dissident artist from a restrictive country.
Incentive We Want Most: The $200 pledge gets all the good stuff, including Ai Weiwei's amazing New York photos and a copy (digital download and DVD) of the film. But on a superficial level, we really want the simple, stylish t-shirts and pins proclaiming our love for the visionary.
In Her Own Words: "No one can answer why he is not in jail, not even Ai Weiwei," she says. "Many people are silenced and detained for doing similar things -- writing online articles, speaking their mind. His example is a reminder of the complexity of modern China. But just because Ai Weiwei is not in jail now does not mean he will always be safe. That's why I hope to increase his base of support around the world."
Money Raised As Of April 1 (57 days left to go): $4,920 of $20,000

MemeFactory Writers a Book

memefactory writes a bookWho: The trio of MemeFactory -- a performative lecture group composed of Brooklynites Mike Rugnetta, Stephen Bruckert and Patrick Davison -- talks about what the Internet is trying to say about itself.
What They Hope To Do: By documenting, archiving and cataloguing the Internet and all of its viral moments, MemeFactory wants to make a searchable index and a sort of textbook to record and comment on the situations that gave rise to the various memes. Part teaching text, part history, part comedy, the guys are out to trace memes.
Incentive We Want Most: A real book, signed! Duh. We'd love to have access to the digital version, but the boys themselves acknowledge the irony of putting a book about the ever-changing 'Net into a physical document like a book. ($35 option)
In Their Own Words: Their Kickstarter video says, "Like the culture we describe, we want our book to be available to any one who wants it, at any time, for free. We want our book to exist as an ever-growing online research tool and storage unite."
Money Raised As Of April 1 (31 days left to go): $13,604 of $16,000

iPhly: Radio Control With iPhone

iPhlyWho: Ari Krupnick, located in Google homebase in Mountain View, CA, who spends his time making iPhone peripherals and apps for other companies.
What He Hopes To Do: By using the radio receptor on the back of your regular remote control for a mini airplane (or car), the iPhly can direct your vehicle with an iPhone. The product has been developed -- the app is currently in the app store -- but it just needs to be produced.
Incentive We Want Most: The $70 option that'll get an iPhly fresh off the production line, plus your name as a contributor. But really, I think we all just want to get flying, right?
In His Own Words: "Some comments literally bring tears to my eyes. One backer says iPhly can help his friend who lost an arm fly again -- you only need one hand to operate iPhly. People are already coming up with uses for iPhly that I hadn't considered," Krupnick confesses.
Money Raised As Of April 1 (23 days left to go): $4,804 of $5,900

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