The Remix Culture

This post is, I guess, about the intersection of an article I recently read in the Globe and Mail and a video I saw on how we have developed a culture that loves the remix. In the article, which is about generating killer ideas, many great strategies stick out, but ‘borrow an idea’ is in there, and that’s one of my favourite. As the author rightly points out, there is very little need to create totally original things. A lot of the beauty of creation comes from combining two things that already exist in an interesting way. Now, I’ll let the video I mentioned pick up where I left off:

Great examples are all around us. What is amazing to me is two particular features that stand out about our culture of remix. The first is just is how quickly these things take shape. For example, it was probably a month ago that the Double Rainbow Guy took us by storm (video here). A day later, I was in Starbucks ordering a double-tall latte, and the guy behind the counter gave me a chuckle when he said, ‘whoa, a double latte all the way’, and two days after that, there was the Double Rainbow remix song (video here), which I heard on the radio a day later.

I mean, it’s obvious that when you give people the tools and you connect everyone and everything, this is where you’ll end up (given hindsight at least), but to think about what this means for the future is perhaps more interesting. Which brings me to the second interesting thing, and that is the fact that no one is generally getting paid to create these remixes. People do it because they can and because they want to create, or share, or are passionate about something. Clay Shirky gives us a term which allows us to quantify the ability of our culture to create further remixes (or other things, for that matter) – cognitive surplus. The video below is well worth the time.