crowdfunding academic research?
I really like what companies like kickstarter are doing — they provide a “crowdfunding”-type platform for artists. Artists and budding entrepreneurs can post project ideas and needs onto the web site and readers can pledge funds to help realize these projects (based on a threshold funding system). The projects range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to much smaller ones. (Warning: thumbing through the various projects is pretty addicting.) The wikipedia site for “crowdfunding” lists other such companies (e.g., kiva.org, sponsume, pledgemusic).
As NSF funding for the social sciences appears to be under threat, it would be great to see a crowdfunding model for academic research as well. There seem to be lots of potential benefits: a new source of funds could be tapped, researchers wouldn’t have to chase funds as funders might find them instead, new populations would be introduced to research, etc, etc. Lots of benefits, downsides of course too.