Remix: A Grey Zone of Creation

What I saw

This video by Kirby Ferguson made me think about how remixing is such an amazing level of creation that is now at our fingertips due to the internet and other digital tools. Ferguson points out that creation comes from three steps:

  • copy
  • transform
  • combine

What I Thought

I also thought about what the product (remixes) of these creations can be categorized as:

  • refinement
  • update
  • variation

The outcomes of this process has led to “original” creations such as the Apple Computer, iPads, motor vehicles etc. Just looking at the finished products, remixing ideas in this way leads to a creation that is more sophisticated and innovative. Remixes are amazing!

wait a second!!

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A few thoughts came to mind:

  1. Remixes are creations based on something that the “remixer” didn’t create
  2. Fractured Fairy Tales can count as a remix
  3. When teaching fairy tales, we decided that the students should fracture a fairy tale because that was easier to do than create an original fairy tale
  4. Is there such a thing as an original fairy tale? Isn’t it a remix if it’s following a particular set of rules / structures? But, that’s harder to do
  5. If there are remixes that are easier and harder to do, then are some remixes higher in its level of creation than others?
  6. Are some remixes more original than others?

Welcome to the Grey Zone! (To the tune of “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins)

What I’m thinking

Perhaps “Everything is a Remix” and there are no completely original ideas. Original and copying is not clear cut. It’s all in the “grey zone.” What might start out as copying can lead to products that people can view as “originals” or “remixes.” It goes back to purpose and whether a copy or a variation of what a “creator” ends with is part of the process or the end product.

Thinking through this idea and how it can relate to my classroom left me with more questions than fully formed opinions. So, my conclusion at this point is wonderings I’m having about remixes.

  • Can you differentiate levels of creativity with the idea of remixes?
  • If copying is part of the remixing process, how can we make copying okay in schools a step in creating?
  • What do you do when you can’t attribute where you got an idea from?
  • Are there levels of “developmentally appropriate” remixing?
  • Does the term, “developmentally appropriate” even apply with remixing?
  • Through the perspective of connectivism, shouldn’t remixing be encouraged?

I guess this is just the beginning of questions that I will be grappling with for a while.


4 thoughts on “Remix: A Grey Zone of Creation

  1. I’m so glad you are asking these questions, particularly the second one about copying being part of the creative process in schools. I feel I’ve been trying to steer my students so far away from that right now that its hard for me to even consider how that would look in a activity, a project, etc. Did you have any examples come to mind? Interesting!

    1. No. I’ve been grappling with the idea of what copying can look like. I wonder if it can be considered copying when the students are learning cursive or something. I can’t think of anything that useful though…

  2. Fabulous questions! These are awesome conversation starters and I don’t think there are any easy answers. This would be a great list of topics for a COETAIL Google Hangout too!

  3. Akio-
    This is a great post with questions that I think about often, too. Talking about copying and remixing with students is so interesting and they challenge my thoughts frequently.

    I particularly like your second question – I have just finished a remix project in my grade 7 Design class (that I will also post for my COETAIL 5 project) and I think that YES, we should allow for copying with attribution as a part of learning how to create. I want students to practice their skills and figure out what good design is by copying accomplished designers/creators.

    Luckily, in English and Art classes this year, students were learning about “pastiches” and they had to create in the style of famous artists and writers. But by honoring the creator, students had to explain in a rationale why they liked about the original work and how they used it in their own work. It led to great discussions and amazing work in different subject areas.

    Here is an example of a student’s art pastiche:

    In English, they wrote vignettes copying the style of Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street.

    In Design, while students made music videos in varying formats/designs, a lot of them were inspired by what the found when they were inquiring. Some kids tried to copy the style of mash-ups from DJ Earworm, but used their own music choices. Here’s an example:

    I hope some of these examples helped. I think all of them can transfer to elementary concepts and assignments, too.

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