On Monday, One Spark revealed their plans for One Spark 2.0, and they are not all that unexpected. Pardon the editorial, but I feel I should point out a few things. Personally, I have been singing the praises of the “World’s Crowdfunding Festival,” since they launched in 2013. I have covered the event in detail, with two different publications since. The festival transcended beyond the normal technology festivals that we frequent, it was something different. While, yes, we were there to cover the technology component of the event, the format was such that there was money up for grabs for anyone and everyone, doled out according to the crowd vote. This format brought a huge variety of creators to Jacksonville for the event: from musicians, to artists, to social movements, to educational products, to general tech creators. In short, it was more like a fair than a tech event, attracting crowds in excess of 300,000 people.
This has all changed.
In 2016, One Spark will be adopting a completely new format. The changes to One Spark 2016 include: the event will now last just three days, down from six; the event will now encompass a total of around 12 city blocks, down from more than 20; the event will also include a significantly lower number of creators, with around 50 creators being grouped into six new thematic “Creator Districts,” all of whom will be “expert-curated”; and most significantly, One Spark will not be putting any money whatsoever into the pot. There will be no money awarded from popular vote, nor will there be a jury award. Instead, One Spark 2016 will adopt a 100% rewards-based crowdfunding model, essentially becoming an in person Indiegogo or Kickstarter.1
I am not going to argue that the changes are going to kill One Spark, but I believe that they will dramatically reduce the size and scope of the event. It is clear that something needed to be done, the model was not sustainable. Again, pardon the editorial here. I take no issue whatsoever with the switch to this model. However, I have a small issue with the framing of the entire thing. Without question, this is a cost-savings move. That alone does not equate a negative result. That said, calling it a “A Renewed Focus on Creators,” or a “a renewed emphasis on crowdfunding,” is just unfair. To try to spin the whole thing into some sort of positive is just a disservice to the whole One Spark community, and is somewhat insulting.