Beer and ping pong and Xbox Kinect — you don’t need a heck of a lot more to make for an epic Saturday. But those factors all combined to pit media giants including The New York Times, Gawker.TV, Aol Thrillist, and Foursquare in a tournament to support charity.
The tournament, BackSpin 2011, was a way to bring together the NY tech community and raise money for Child’s Play, a non-profit that provides books, games and consoles to hospitals across North America. The model — a little bit of fun with a whole lot of good — was cooked up by TechiesGiveBack, a New York-based non-profit aimed at getting the local tech community away from their desks and giving back. Part charity event, part networking opportunity, TechiesGiveBack is cutting out a niche of social good aimed at also having fun.
BackSpin was just the third event the group has held in its short history. The first event in 2009 was an ice-skating benefit for CampInteractive, followed by the 2010 “Webutante Ball” benefiting City Harvest.
For the digital ping pong tournament, TechiesGiveBack teamed up with Peter Ha to help co-organize. He took his experience with Wiimbledon – a tournament based on a Nintendo Wii tennis game — to help put together the necessaries for a charity event using Xbox Kinect Sports. Those necessaries included MCs from CollegeHumor, an open bar, silly costumes and a healthy does of humor.
“With real ping pong, there are people that are really, really good,” joked TechiesGiveBack co-founder Simon Kirk. “We wanted to have a fair competition, it sort of leveled the playing field.” The team made sure to extend its outreach using the hashtag #backspin2011 and promo videos playing up the faux-competition and connection to philanthropy.
Of course, playing virtual ping pong was a good way of promoting Child’s Play, which aims to show that a little bit of fun can go a long way. “I thought it was a perfect fit for the tech community. It was a tournament that required neither coordination nor esoteric sports knowledge, but brought people together in a fun, competitive environment,” said Sarah Kessler, a Mashable reporter, who played for the event’s All-Star Team. “Also, there was beer.”
Despite the silly get-ups and party atmosphere, BackSpin raised nearly $12,000 dollars for Child’s Play. In total, TechiesGiveBack has raised a little more than $50,000 for various charities in about 14 months of existence. Kirk hopes to expand TechiesGiveBack to other cities and to lead more hands-on projects: “I would imagine there are many tech communities around the world where there are smart, interesting, dynamic people who are interested in giving back.”
Having fun is one of the best ways to fight charity fatigue, an exhaustion at being asked too many times to give. However, it is a fine line between having fun and forgetting what cause you’re trying to support. So far, TechiesGiveBack has done a brilliant job landing on the right side of that divide. Sure, BackSpin was as much a party as a fundraiser, but it embodied the spirit of its target non-profit. Namely, that games can be a way to both let loose and to do some good. You can check out more pics here.
What do you make of adding fun to social good? Would you participate or donate to an event like BackSpin 2011? Let us know in the comments below.
There aren’t a ton of websites out there based on complicated thought games that are based on experimental economics. Part of that may have to do with the difficulty of turning thought experiments into viable websites. But what if that game could net you cash on a regular basis?
In a nutshell: The site charges a £1 monthly subscription fee. Users can subscribe for one, six or 12 months. However, that money goes to the person who referred you via his or her unique URL. The question then becomes whether you’ll keep that money, donate it to charity or some combination of both. That result is then tracked (entirely anonymously) based on criteria each user fills out when registering. Do men give more than women? Are certain age groups greedier than others? What factor does race or religion play?
“It will be interesting to see what participants will do with their moral earnings once they have made back their initial £1 subscription fee, essentially breaking even with one friend referral,” Bushell wrote on the site. “Most people on Facebook have at least 150 to 300 friends, the referral process could end up becoming very lucrative for the participants’ moral dilemma.”
The results, while anonymous, are sure to spark controversy especially when there’s no real way to verify an individual user’s age, religious affiliations, race, etc. Still, as of writing, 95% of the money has been donated to charity. It’s a pattern, despite the small user base, that reflects the economic game it’s modeled after.
The dictator game is an experiment in economics. A person (the dictator) is a given a sum of money that he or she can either keep, or give to a second person (the responder). Overwhelmingly, the dictator gives away at least some part of that sum even if the responder is a total stranger. The game seems to imply that people generally care about the welfare of others.
The site is a certified registered PayPal application, meaning your information is kept relatively safe, and all transactions occur through PayPal. On top of PayPal’s 5% fee, however, Bushell also takes another 10%. The site is registered as a company in the UK and not as a non-profit, despite its connection to viable and legitimate organizations.
Bushell hopes to boost his group data, as well as introduce new charities that could benefit from his largely philanthropic audience. “Yes it’s an experiment into human morality and yes the results will be an indication or trend but its still just a bit of fun,” Bushell wrote.
What would you do with an extra couple of bucks a month; keep it or donate it to charity?
You’re not still wearing off-the-peg sneakers, are you? Tut, tut, how very 2009. With a wealth of affordable personalization options online, nowadays you can easily create your own customized footwear.
We’ve found six online solutions that will help you design funky footwear that’s unique to you. So why not show off a bit of your creativity and stand out from the rest of the boringly-shod crowd?
If this sounds good, then put your best foot forward and take a walk through the gallery below. Let us know in the comments which design-your-own services you’ve tried out and if you haven’t yet, then the ones that you like the look of.
Nike's well-established customization service lets you start with one of the company's designs and change it to suit your taste, or start with a totally blank canvas.
The service is perfectly suited to anyone looking for proper training shoes, rather than fashion sneakers. With the ability to change the color of every element of the shoe's design, you can create a cool custom pair of kicks that will stand out from the crowd on any court where you play.
As well as personalize the color-way of your new shoes, you can change the text on the heel, and then when you're happy with your design, share it to your social networks and add it to the NIKEiD gallery.
Vans keeps its service simple with just four shoe types to customize, one of which is its now-classic slip-on number in both white and black.
As you'd expect from the brand, as well as colors, there's a wide range of contemporary patterns to choose from, and in the case of the slip-on shoe, you can mix and match designs.
As well as starting with a totally blank shoe, you can start with a patterned model and than tweak it to your heart's content, choosing different colors for the binding, foxing, collar lining and even the elastic gore (the stretchy bit on the top!)
Converse's "Design Your Own" service is seriously fun -- and offers far-reaching customization options. There are around 20 types of sneaker and baseball boot styles to choose from as your blank canvas. As well as a palette of vibrant colors to pick from, there's also a ton of funky, and in some cases unusual, patterns.
Perfect for those who pay strict attention to detail, you can change the color of the laces, the eyelets and even the stitching! There is also an option to add text to the heel of the shoe -- with a choice of two fonts to select from.
Sample cost: Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Canvas -- $67
Offering a variety of sneaks to personalize, Adidas's take on the customization process is comprehensive and changes with the shoe you choose.
For example, with the Gazelle (pictured) you can make each stripe a different color while the mi adizero Rose design process will see your name laser-etched on the shoe's bumper. Or you can pick a personalized number to appear on the lace's tag.
This means it's worth playing around with the web-based design app to see what options each shoe offers; just don't get too carried away and order the set!
Sole Creator takes customization to the extreme with its online design service offering tons of backgrounds, a huge album of clip art, the ability to draw designs freehand, add as much text as you can fit on, and even upload an image.
With brands to choose from such as Converse, Vans, DYO and Ethletic, it's worth noting that Sole Creator offers worldwide delivery, so it's a great option for those outside the States (because many of the U.S.-based in-house sneaker design services don't ship internationally.)
If you're on a budget and don't want to splash out on a whole new pair of shoes, but still want to personalize a pair, then SneakArt offers flexible, durable, waterproof, adhesive skins in a massive range of patterns so that you can DIY your own designs in the comfort of your own home.
Last week, we were given a gift — Radiohead’s music video for “Lotus Flower” combined with Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
In said video, Thom Yorke’s impassioned dancing took on a new meaning — instead of representing some burning inner desire that could only be articulated via dance, Yorke’s undulations entreated: “Put a ring on it!” You certainly are a “king of limbs,” Yorke.
Well, now it seems that the web has embraced this equation (Thom Yorke’s dancing + Contradictory jam = LOL). Behold, Dancing Thom, a Tumblr replete with vids of Yorke getting down to a litany of tunes.
The combination is rather reminiscent of “Sad Keanu,” a meme that was born from a photo of Keanu Reeves looking dejected whilst holding a sandwich (then eating a cupcake, then wearing a helmet, etc).
Check it out — whether you’re a Radiohead head, or one of the many yawning masses who promptly fell asleep in the middle of The King of Limbs, this blog is sure to send you dancing into this post-holiday parade of days.
Granted, Mashable readers know who the Arcade Fire are (we all saw that rad HTML5 video last year), but the same cannot be said for other Internet users, as evidenced by a blog that popped up after the band’s Grammy win for “Album of the Year” last night.