Middlemen, Creators, Games, Reggio Emilia

Meta Newsletter, June 2021

Welcome, and thank you once again for being here. Meta is the Blackbird Foundation’s monthly newsletter exploring creativity.

Last month we launched essays - short stories from people working to unleash creativity. Tim Duggan wrote about boredom, and Lauren Capelin wrote about ambiguity.

Next month we are looking to profile people operating at the intersections of multiple disciplines. These people are creative but not in the way you’d expect. If you can think of anyone we should be profiling, hit reply or leave a comment below.


Middlemen stifle creativity and deny creatives the chance to own a great business. Musicians do not know who their customers are - Apple, Spotify, Facebook, Ticketmaster all own the customer, and artists consequently capture only a tiny amount of the value they create. Apple owns the App Store and collects 30% from creators on its platform. The same is true across almost every other creative discipline.

Decentralisation is key to unlocking creativity and unleashing untold amounts of magic.


  • TIL about the Reggio Emilia Approach - an educational philosophy and pedagogy that uses self-directed, experiential learning in relationship-driven environments. It’s loosely based on the Montessori philosophy. “Creativity seems to emerge from multiple experiences, coupled with a well-supported development of personal resources, including a sense of freedom to venture beyond the known. Loris Malaguzzi. In his book The Hundred Languages of Children, Malaguzzi speaks of children’s endless potential The child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking of playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred.’” Kylie Burrett, founder of Splat 3D, sent me an excellent summary which you can find here.

  • “Right now, you cannot really invest in the future success of a creator, at some point, there will be some way for me to invest in them, make a bet.”  - Sahil Lavingia left Pinterest, where he was the second employee, to found Gumroad. In this interview on the Information, Sahil talks about some of the funding opportunities available for creators. 

  • Union Square Ventures Values Crypto Publishing Tool Mirror at $100 Million: Founded by former Andreessen Horowitz crypto partner Denis Nazarov, Mirror resembles Medium, the blogging tool used for essays and newsletters. However, it goes a step further by providing tools for writers to crowdfund their projects through the sale of non-fungible tokens, the one-of-a-kind digital items verified via the blockchain” Why does this matter? Because publishing platforms like Medium act as middlemen in between readers and writers. Mirror does away with this and gives writers a chance at owning their customers and capturing the majority of the value they create.

  • Chinese Art Collector Sylvain Levy funded and produced a video game that showcases his vast collection of contemporary Chinese art. “Forgetter isn’t Levy’s first foray into the digital world, but it’s his first time working with game designers. In this case, Hong Kong-based Allison Yang Jing and Alan Kwan. It’s an acerbic take on sanitising creativity: the player works for a startup that scrubs dysfunction and trauma from dead artists’ brains and sells the clean brains to parents who want gifted, untroubled babies. While obliterating these intimate memories, you can also find real artwork by Chinese artists — all from Levy’s collection — and smash them into bits. It’s also a quasi-janitorial sim, so you get paid extra for vacuuming up the mess.” Hashtag this under #metaverse and #nfts.

  • I’ve written before about the creative super force that is TikTok. In addition to using creativity as their network effect, they have launched a new Jobs Service for Gen Z. What’s the point? TikTok does a much better job of showing you what a young person is made of. Much better than an ATAR or Linkedin. Many people think that by changing the way we assess people for school, universities or employment, we will, in turn, change the way they are taught in schools. Imagine if employers turn first to TikTok to find candidates for jobs - schools and universities might follow, and then the way we teach people would need to change.

  • The Tip Jar is taking over the internet. What’s the point? This is just one more step towards the slow fade away of the middlemen of the world. “Creators have been fueling engagement on social media platforms for years, but only now that the creator economy is maturing are they able to make money directly from their fans.”

  • Book recommendation: Lifelong Kindergarten by Mitchel Resnick. I’ve just started reading it, and I’m hooked already. “How lessons from kindergarten can help everyone develop the creative thinking skills needed to thrive in today's society”.

  • Creativity in action - “These Aussie Schoolgirls Are Converting An Old Range Rover Into An Electric Vehicle.”

Thanks for reading. Please share with other wild hearts, and don’t forget to hit subscribe 👨🏻‍🎨,