Sup y’all. Welcome to Metablog entry number two.

This was an interesting week. I’m here in New York this week, considering whether my family should move here. All that has been good.

Today had a lot of back to back meetings. I first spoke with the group [redacted]. They're kind of a think tank. I shared the Metalabel piece and they really liked it. But they said early on that they weren't sure whether they're actually comfortable being called a label. I asked why, and they said “We want to know who else would be there. Depending on who else is there then that's cool.” I said it could be anyone from Extinction Rebellion to a record label or something like that. They’d love to be with XR. There are certain record labels they’d love to be with, but there’s also a lot of labels they wouldn’t want to be associated with. That was striking.

Right after that I met up with Toby Shorin, who wrote squad wealth. He and I spent two hours walking in the rain around the city. He and I've been talking about Metalabel for a while and he's always believed the idea is powerful, but he's also been skeptical that basically shitty people are going to use this to do shitty things. There should be more intention behind the tool rather than just allowing something that will perpetuate what might be a lot more crap in the world. We talked a lot about that, and I took his passion seriously.

He also said something else interesting. He expressed feeling upset at the idea that a group like Extinction Rebellion might call itself a label. He felt that was reductive and that putting a music label and activists on the same plane was flattening things in a way that took away something that was sacred, and that the intention behind something matters just as much as the form. Making Metalabel about the form of the label risks negating all the different things that happen inside a group that makes one group better to be a part of or producing more good in the world.

Immediately after he and I spoke, I had a phone call with Clare (cofounder) and Charlie (Creative Director) at Extinction Rebellion. Midway through my conversation with them I said I was just having a conversation with a good friend of mine who expressed a feeling of concern of XR being framed as a label. It's something I’m sure you've thought about, so I'm curious how you think about it.

Clare, the cofounder of XR said yeah, she's thought about it too. But honestly, they want to be more part of the mainstream of culture. From her perspective, when XR first started they were a part of the mainstream culture. But over time XR got moved more into activist alternative culture and became something that regular people couldn't participate in. It was something you could only do if you were pure. If you'd like never taken a short hop flight. This purity demand she saw as being a death to activist movements. It makes things really hard and you judge each other rather than focusing on the work. She actually very much wants XR to be a part of culture, because in her mind, that will make them easier to engage with and ultimately there's a bigger mission that's about getting people to become more active about the climate. I found that interesting. But she also said that if XR was sitting next to Givenchy or something that's not something that she wants to see. But she's trusting me and us that we're going to approach this in the right spirit and that we're going to curate it thoughtfully.

What these conversations really led me to think is that the curation of Metalabel is even more important than I had been thinking. The curation of Metalabels shouldn’t be according to tastes and aesthetic, but I think it should also be according to a lowercase morality. Not like everyone has to be virtuous, but who we choose to invite on and what we choose to hold up and what company we're putting other labels in is something that is really important that we get right. We'll make these groups feel really proud and happy to be a part of it or turn them off depending on how we go. Playing through that thinking, I think the editorial rollout and using that to introduce the form and concept and to highlight labels that we believe in, to me that's like a big green light from this perspective, because that lets us help set the tone. It also makes me think that if we imagine the growth of the Metalabel platform, I think growth is something to be very cautious about. It makes me think a slower process of trying to give a shit about the right things, about trying to create more equitable forms, advocating for ways that labels can be more transparent and can be more democratic or can be more responsive, all kinds of ways this model could be improved. Those are things that need to be really front and center of our thinking. We really are trying to create a model that is an improved iteration on what was what's already here. That’s the reason to do this. That’s why this project is worth pursuing.

There's a number of ways to do that. There's collective creation versus individual creation, thinking about all the burnout of creators and their economic precariousness and that whole thing. There's also this thought of what kind of culture do we want to have more of. What are more ethical or more beautiful or more “right” ways to create ideas and to create culture and to put things into the world and that Metalabel can be a shining light, a beacon, for those kinds of projects. We can inspire people to do the right kinds of projects in the “right” ways. These conversations made me see this responsibility and potential that are very interlinked. It makes me want to step into that and really embrace that as part of what we're doing.

Two other thoughts I have from today. One is that when I talked to Extinction Rebellion, the creative director Charlie wanted to start off by talking about the word meta. He was talking about Facebook, but he's also thinking about what the word meta means. He made a slide deck. I'll link to it in this document so you all can see it.

He showed that meta tends to mean above and outside and change or transformation. But it's this external facing idea. He saw the metaverse and Zuckerberg and the word meta as all being about kind of a perpetuation of capitalism and status in a way. He wanted to know: what is the opposite of meta? And when he went to the Greek he found the opposite of this like outside meta idea is a word called mesa, which means within or inside. Whereas a meta of a Sheltie is a dog, the mesa of a dog might be a Sheltie. It's becoming more. He Zuckerberg or whoever wants to build the metaverse, but maybe someone else seems to be creating the mesaverse — the universe of internal. I thought that concept was interesting. It fit in with this morality question of thinking about how people are doing things and why they're doing them. Us choosing to take the extra time to give a shit about those things.

It's very easy on a project like this to let go of those harder things. To pursue the vanity metrics. To pursue growth. To want to be in the game. I have felt those feelings I still feel those feelings. That's ego and that's the world we live in. But we're making something that's not for everybody. We're making something that we're not going to invite everyone to be a part of. We're going to make something that might sometimes be more opinionated than some people might be comfortable with. And I think those are good things. I'll probably feel torn about these things from time to time and Rob will probably be the voice that will remind us it’s not about getting big, It's about doing what's right, what's important. What our children would think was right — those kinds of questions. Today underscored and reminded me of the value of that energy. I feel like I’m newly arming myself with this mindset. I’m liking how it feels.

Peace <3