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Society is a Remix {A Hypertext Essay}

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Everyday consumers are involved in the creation of content that often borrows or uses elements from culture through a variety of multimedia (video, images, music, or text). Through this involvement, one is engaging in the act of appropriation, otherwise known as remix culture. Remixing involves individuals taking existing material for their own use, without the consent or acknowledgement of the original creator or owner, and making “original” content. However, in the digital information age, corporations and authors have become increasingly concerned with the validity of copyright, intellectual property, and the fair use argument which creators embrace. Remix culture is needed for citizens to develop their own form of expression where they feel they can belong and have the ability to express themselves creatively within the public domain.

With relative ease of access to the Internet, editing software, and an endless database of information, consumers now more than ever, have the ability to take different aspects of culture, remix them, and make it their own. The development of the web has made it possible for citizens to reassemble parts from earlier media, such as using vintage television shows or movies, and reshaping the intended meaning or purpose (Fagerjord 191). As explained by Mackenzie Wark, “any individual who produces something, an artwork, a song, a text, wants people pay attention to them”. Whether making a mash-up or visual collage, remix culture is a demonstration of individuals actively participating in the re-creation of culture. These “remixers” have a purpose beyond the problematic assumption to make profit or benefit assumed by copyright, patent, and trademark holders. Individuals involved in remixing strive to be original creators of content in order to provide a critical or alternative view outside what conventional mainstream culture offers. As argued by Meier, a strength of culture over the past several hundred years has been the ability of society to take on and express multiple points of view. Henry Jenkins points out that by being involved in remix culture, consumers are taking different parts of media into their own hands and reworking its content and message to serve their personal interests. In a sense, people who remix do so to demonstrate the passion and creativity one has. The remixer’s admiration for culture (music, television, books, films), is demonstrated by taking time and effort to create a new element of culture to discuss and share with society (Steadman 120). However, the core definition of remixing is not clearly defined and agreed upon; constant regulations and capitalist interests create obstacles for the expression of new ideas.

The overarching issue is that companies are trying to constantly limit the freedom of information and intellectual property. Organizations and authors are hesitant to allow any participants of remix culture to use copyright material in fear of irreparable harm or potential loss of revenue. According to Foucault, there was a time when texts were accepted, put into circulation, and given value without any question about the identity of the author. Remixing is the shifting of power from corporate control to the common citizen. Companies do not always see how providing access to their copyrighted material is mutually beneficial. For instance, a recent copyright dispute eliminated any capacity to reproduce a remix of a beloved comic. Restricting creative control seems to be a recurring trend if one attempts to remix elements of culture. Arguably, these companies believe that it is in their best interest to limit the fair use of copyrighted material in order to maximize profit, limiting the potential for creativity.

In order for new ideas to develop culture needs the ability to grow and transform. There needs to be organizations that offer tools and support to oppose limitations of remixing culture and the ability to express creativity. Media owners do not always consider that people who remix are attempting to construct their own views and opinions. By manipulating elements of media, remix culture has provided a way for individuals to create their own stories and build upon them.

                                                                                                                                                                    Works Cited

Fagerjord, Anders. “After Convergence: YouTube and Remix Culture”. International Handbook of Internet Research. (2010): 187-200. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4020-9789-8_11&gt;.

Foucault, Michelle. “What is an author?” in The Art of Art History, Preziosi (ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. 299-314

Jenkins, Henry. “From Participatory Culture to Participatory Democracy (Part I)” in Confessions of an Aca-Fan”. March 5, 2007.  Web

Meier, Patrick Philippe. “The Prospects for Cyberocracy,” Irevolution., January 17 2009. 26 Feb 2013. Web

Steadman, Kyle. “Remix Literacy and Fan Compositions.” Computers and Composition. 29. (2012): 107-123. Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S8755461512000187&gt;.

Wark, Mackenzie. “Copyright, Copyleft, Copygift.” Meanjin , 2010.Web. 26 Feb. 2013. <http://classic.skor.nl/3091/en/mckenzie-wark-copyright-copyleft-copygift&gt;. Web

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About benbelluz

Graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University, With a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Communication Studies in 2014. I also graduated from Humber College with an Honors Marketing Diploma in 2009.

One response to “Society is a Remix {A Hypertext Essay}

  1. Pingback: ReMIXed Culture « A Citizen in a Mediated World

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