Goteo.org: Crowdfunding the Commons in Spain

The infrastructure for starting and maintaining new commons just got a big boost in Spain with the founding of Goteo.org, a new crowdfunding website. The explicit mission of Goteo.org is to help finance and support “the independent development of creative and innovative initiatives that contribute to the common good, free knowledge, and open code.”

The site is obviousy inspired by the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and other distributed-funding innovations, but Goteo.org differs in being dedicated exclusively to funding open-source and commons-related projects. It is also dedicared to fostering distributed collaboration on proposed and ongoing projects.

Most of the Goteo.org website is in Spanish, but here is an English FAQ describing the project. Geoteo sees itself as “a platform for investing in 'feeder capital' that supports projects with social, cultural, scientific, educational, technological, or ecological objectives that generate new opportunities for the improvement of society and the enrichment of community goods and resources.” The site explains:

Goteo differs from other models of crowdfunding by positioning itself as a social network composed of promoters, co-financers, and collaborators.

As a member of the network, you can take on one or more roles, depending on the project. Goteo offers:

  • To promoters: Choose a new model of collective financing and distributed collaboration, by giving your project visibility if you share all of these principles, and by getting your potential community involved right from the beginning.
  • To co-financiers: Access a wide range of projects, designed, produced and/or distributed from a free and open source perspective, in which to contribute monetarily in exchange for collective returns and individual rewards.
  • To collaborators: Participate in Goteo with resources, time, energy and skills, by helping concrete projects and the platform itself further the common good and achieve positive change in society.

Although only a few weeks old, Goteo.org has already funded several projects. One is Tuderechoasaber.es, a website that lets people submit requests for information to any public institution in Spain. The goal is to facilitate the public's right of access to public information -- which is currently quite difficult in Spain – and so to promote greater accountability of public institutions. The project will adapt open-source software developed by the British website WhatDoTheyKnow.com. The ultimate goal is to enable citizens or organizations in any country to launch similar sites within a few weeks.

Another successful Goteo.org project is an open and collaborative library called #Bookcamping, which was born during the 15M protests in Spain last year. The project wants to leverage social networks to make the knowledge-production and -exchange more “horizontal and rhizomatic.” To date, this free library has raised 6,184 euros, or 120% of its goal.

Another interesting project, Nodo Móvil (Mobile Node) proposed building a free mobile wireless telecommunications infrastructure of digital mesh networks that can be used in cities. It would interconnect multiple computers and peripherals (LAN: Local Area Network) in different spaces, and opeate independently of telecommunications companies. Nodo Móvil raised 1,295 euros, or 104% of its goal.

The nonprofit behind Goteo.org is the Open Source Foundation (Fundación Fuentes Abiertas) and its principal promoter is the Barcelona-based Platoniq, which describes itself as “an international organization of cultural producers and software developers who are pioneers in the production and distribution of copyleft culture.”

A hearty bravo to this welcome innovation for commons culture! May it soon be replicated in other countries and other languages.  And in the meantime:  Participate.  Donate.  Support.