It isn’t every day that Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin gets involved with a new project.
But that’s what’s happening today, as Buterin, along with economists Zoe Hitzig and E. Glen Weyl, is rereleasing digital signed copies of “Liberal Radicalism,” a well-known paper which explores using a mechanism called quadratic voting to fund public projects.
The trio is using Metalabel, a platform positioning itself as an “operating system for groups of creators,” for the release. It’s the first time anyone aside from Metalabel’s seven co-creators, which include the co-founder of Kickstarter and the founder of Etsy, has used the platform.
Metalabel calls the digital documents “records,” inspired by the indie record labels of the 1980s. The collection will also include essays by Kevin Owocki and Scott Moore, the two co-founders of Gitcoin, a platform which uses quadratic funding to raise money for public goods.
Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler described records, in the context of Metalabel, as “containers for creative work,” in a call with The Defiant. He added that upcoming drops will include physical items like clothing, vinyl records, and a card game.
Twelve records, developed by different groups as part of an initiative dubbed “Quality Drops,” will be released via the Metalabel platform over the next three months.
The platform is pushing the concept of “metalabels,” which can be conceived as groups of people pushing forward a cultural viewpoint, according to Strickler.
“Today, there are non-profits that exist for a mission or impact, and there are for-profits that exist to accumulate capital,” he said. “And then there’s this in-between of projects that exist to promote a cultural point of view that really don’t have a home.”
Strickler sees the Scientific Revolution as being started by what he would call a metalabel, a group which regularly produced what would now be called a scientific journal in the 1600s. “I think they were zines,” Strickler said, referring to the self-published mixed media ventures produced by art communities worldwide.
Bringing People Together
In a way, Metalabel aims to do what many of the most impactful pieces of internet-based software have done — organize people around their interests.
As a co-founder of the well-known crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Strickler is deeply familiar with this socially powerful aspect of the Internet and sees blockchains as potentially extending that functionality.
Like many blockchain-based projects, however, Metalabel runs the risk of drowning in a sea of words which are unintelligible or uninteresting to the non-crypto native — Strickler, also a writer, appears to be more aware than most of that danger.
“The word ‘democratizing’ needs to appear 30 times,” he joked about crypto projects’ descriptions.
Functionally, metalabels split the proceeds from their drops equally among their members, with a portion going to a treasury for the group to presumably push forward future endeavours.
The platform will take a cut of the fees users pay when buying releases. It’s starting with a 10% fee for its first public drop, but that’s subject to change, Strickler said.
The Kickstarter co-founder said that he became interested in the idea of a metalabel after working as an independent creator. He wrote a book called “This Could Be Our Future,” which featured a philosophical framework with objectives beyond maximal profit after stepping down from the crowdfunding enterprise in 2017.
A community formed around the book, but Strickler said he struggled to establish leaders in it aside from himself. “I kept trying to elevate other people in the community to share in the leadership,” he said. “And it kept not working.”
After stepping away from the community, Strickler said he revisited a favorite book, “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” which chronicles the role of indie record labels in supporting numerous influential rock bands of the 1980s.
The way labels formed to spread movements stuck with Strickler. “What started as one vision held by one person was being manifested through other artists, other groups,” he said. “If you’re part of a Punk label, you’re there to manifest more Punk-ness in the world.”