Thanks to an overwhelming amount of support via the kickstarter campaign we now have 3x what we estimated we would need to print the first issue. With the money hurdle solved for at least two quarters and then some, we can move on to the next hurdles.
Growing the community
The most important hurdle and one that will probably be a constant struggle is to reach everyone with an interest in citizen science and convince them to share their knowledge with the community. So far we’ve been getting a good number of emails from people asking if they can contribute and what guidelines there are. This weekend I’ll put together some specific guidelines. But basically if you think its interesting and it’s citizen science related, put together the article and submit it. No matter how obscure it is I can guarantee someone somewhere in the world will find it interesting.
Another major hurdle for the magazine is a lot of scientific work requires overly expensive proprietary equipment. If no one can afford to do citizen science, we’ll have to change our name to The Bill and Warren Science Hour and I’d rather not do that. To help the community over this hurdle, the magazine will hold regular contests to promote the design of openly licensed equipment as well as feature more cost effective or DIY methods of doing things. The main person behind the “cheap” initiative is Forrest Flanagan, and if you have any questions pertaining to equipment sourcing or construction. Just put “Letter to FF” in your subject title when you fill in the contact form.
Designing the zine/site
The print issue is going to be very well designed thanks to the indesign skills of one Robert “tronbie” Moses. But the website isn’t currently well suited for featuring a large number of stories. So in the coming months, we will be working to move towards a more magazine style design. Hopefully this move will make the site easier to navigate and read.
Oh and we also are brainstorming for a good “mascot” to be associated with Citizen Science and the magazine. Think Reddits alien. So far my favorite idea has been Cpt. Nemos ship “The Nautilus” (see above if you’ve never read the book) because I could think of no greater example of what citizen science could do(even if its fiction). Maybe someone more creative than I has a better idea?
This isn’t the most glamorous part of the endeavor. But equally important for the long-term survival and growth of the magazine. We still need to figure out a lot of the basics like liability, banking accounts, taxes and such. Thankfully we have some good advisors who have experience in these areas to help us.
We have made one big decision in this area that is worth announcing. We’ve decided to not become a non-profit organization. There was a lot of thought that went into this decision and if enough people are curious, I’ll elaborate more later. But the short of it is we don’t plan on depending on donations to run, we weren’t planning on paying dividends anyway and we would like the CSQ to be able to influence legislation(see 501c3 requirements) to favor Citizen Science.
Other than the basic formation stuff, a big business related hurdle is going to be revenue. We want to be able to lower the subscription cost, be able to compensate contributors for their time and lots of other cost intensive things but to do so will require us to bring in more revenue. I’m sure you can guess two ways we plan on doing this i.e. ad sales and selling more magazines. We have another idea that’s not quite ready to announce yet but I have a feeling you are going to like it.
Now that you know just about everything there is to know about the current state of CSQ and what we have planned in the coming, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas. What would you like to see? Do you have any advice for us?
P.s. I do apologize if this was a tad long and rambling, it was written off and on at Tx/Rx Labs from 12am-7am.