EVERYTHING is a Remix

Filmmaker, writer, and speaker, Kirby Ferguson, argues that “Everything is a remix.” (Am I plagiarizing for using the title of his four-part video series as the name of my blog post? Is this obvious enough that I am giving him credit for it? I want to make sure that I am giving credit where credit is due!) After being assigned this week to watch the video series, Everything is a Remix, I was intrigued. Then, I dug a bit deeper and found and watched Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk, Embrace the remix.

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Kirby’s definition of a remix is something that is copied, transformed, and combined, and his Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs examples really helped me to understand “the remix” as I was formerly unaware that such a thing even existed.

A screenshot from my notes for this week

Kirby explains that, throughout history, creators have borrowed, stolen, and transformed creative works. Our own creativity is, in fact, a “concoction of previous stuff,” he says. In his TED Talk, Kirby quotes Henry Ford, “an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production” (taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford),

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men whom behind were centuries of work…progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable.”

In Kirby’s TED Talk, he showed a picture of the Patent Act of 1970, and below the title, it read, “An act to promote the progress of useful art,” and I found that SO interesting! When I think of patent laws, “an act to promote the progress of useful art” is NOT what comes to mind! Unfortunately, I think of people copying each other’s work and resulting lawsuits. In his TED Talk, Kirby states that, “creativity comes from without, not from within.” Our creativity IS a compilation of our’s and others’ experiences, and I am not sure that I ever really thought about creativity in that way.

Photo Credit: Dawn Endico via Compfight cc

Honestly, I LOVE the concept of the remix. But I get so confused sometimes. What does it mean to be creative? If the purpose of the Patent Act of 1790 is “to promote the progress of useful art,” then how is this Act actually helping us progress? Most of the time, I feel like patent laws are doing just the opposite 🙁

How can we use the concepts behind remix culture in our teaching? That is a GREAT question! How can we convey these concept to our students without them taking it the wrong way? I think such concepts could, sometimes, be easily misconstrued. I am not even sure that I completely understand them all of the time!

I want my students to be as creative as possible (yes! even in science class), and I want them to give credit where credit is due and understand why that is important 🙂 I warmly welcome your comments below.

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