Monday, February 17, 2014

Everything is a remix

I'm doing a digital storytelling online course and have come to the part where I need to collect and make various media in order to tell my story.  I need a voiceover of the story, chunked into parts, I needs music and sound effects, I need some still and moving images - in short I am going to mix a lot of media together to create a multimedia story.  Such is remix culture.  We've moved from a "read only" culture where we simply consume media, to a "read and write" culture where we are able to create, using media that others have created and allowed us to use for free.

Some time ago I watched the video series Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson (you can watch these here).  This series looks at remix culture in cinema, music and technology and calls for a redefinition of creativity.  The section in Knowing Knowledge that I've been reading over the past few days also examines remixing and repackaging as "the personalization of the knowledge created by others".

I've been thinking about the way I interact with new knowledge and media, in particular with the news both global and personal.  For example I have given up watching news on TV (I don't even have a TV) and only read the news online which allows me to decide what is important and interesting to me.   I then started thinking about how when I was younger, if I wanted to listen to music when and where I chose, I had to buy an LP, which contained the track I wanted and many others that I might or might not want - like listening to a 30 minute news broadcast which might contain 5 minutes of something that I found relevant or interesting to me.  Now I feel I am totally in control of what I read and what I listen to - I pull the bits I want and remix it into something that is useful to me via social media.

I've also started to think about the way I interact with people.  Over the past day I have had conversations with my family who live half a world away from me.  I have used Google Maps to look at an apartment that my son has decided to rent when he starts his new job next month, and also to see what shops and restaurants are nearby his new place.  I was able to see that my daughter was looking tired and cold yesterday when I skyped with her.  I was able to hear about my mother's upcoming visit to a museum when I skyped to her phone.  My relationships with my family are now defined by convenience and not by time and space.  If I want to talk to my son, for example, I know I can only do it quite late in the evening here, after he leaves work in the UK.  If I want to contact him before that I have to send him a WhatsApp or an email.  In our lives, knowledge exists in many spaces, not many of them physical and much of what we do can be remixed into what we actually want - for example when simultaneously looking at the same Google Map/Street View I know I was looking at and for completely different things from my son.

This is what I'm thinking about:  George Siemens writes that "today we receive our news, our entertainment, our learning, from distributed means.  Two people in the same household stitch together different understandings based on the pieces used ... we all belong to different communities [and] absorb different information.  Media develops conversations.  Conversations develop reality."  And here's another thing I read that sums up what I feel is true for me right now:  "the membrane between real and virtual is thinning.  We are starting to exit simultaneously in each."

Photo Credit: SalFalko via Compfight cc

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