What is an original idea? Do they simply spring forth from clever minds to revolutionise the world? Do they just descend from the sky to enchant an unsuspecting public? Is it a light bulb moment?
Remixing is the adaption and re-invention of another’s ideas. It has bloomed in contemporary society, where the tools and materials needed for remixing are freely available to all. For example, this video is a mash up of Harry Potter and LMFAO’s ‘Party Rock Anthem’.
However, some people see it as stealing.
Kirby Ferguson has created a series of four useful videos describing how inevitable ‘copying’ of ideas is. In fact, he refers to it as cultural evolution. In essence, remixing is the natural result of this cultural evolution. What makes these videos useful is the use of multiple examples to illustrate points. It becomes apparent that remixing is part of every development within society.
Axel Bruns, in ‘Distributed Creativity: Filesharing and Produsage’, extends this concept to analyse the role of a ‘produser’ (participant and creator of media) within contemporary society. Like, Ferguson, Bruns focuses on the positive aspects of a society where content can be freely created, accessed and adapted.
The points made are convincing, however, what did surprise me was the claim that there is little evidence supporting the claim that the music industry is suffering due to piracy. In an article discussing the viability of music streaming service Spotify, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s (IFPI) Digital Music Report indicates that since 1999, global recorded music revenue has been decreasing, up until 2012, where it rose by 0.3%. Which left me wondering, which side of this debate is correct. Independent research is needed.
Another interesting point raised by Ferguson was the notion that humans have an instinctive aversion to loss. In essence, while we are happy to access and participate in remixing ideas, we are far less likely to be happy about others ‘stealing’ our ideas to use for their own remixing purposes. He referred to it as being ‘territorial’.
So why do we need to worry about remixing? If it is, as Ferguson tells us, simply the natural progression of culture, why is it such an issue when every thought we have is simply the extension of another?
The answer seems to lie in Ferguson’s notion that humans are averse to loss. We like owning things. Original ideas are not possible, so it is only logical that we should seek to adapt and change another’s ideas into something greater. As Bruns points out, remix/mash up culture should not be seen as a threat, but rather a way for individuals and groups to express ideas in new ways.
Remix is a GOOD THING! It can benefit us and enrich our experiences. Fighting against it, it seems, is like fighting human nature.