Week 4: What comes after remix?

by wangtianchen

Nothing is original, says Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix. From Bob Dylan to Steve Jobs, he says our most celebrated creators borrow, steal and transform.


In this week, we are going to look at “REMIX”. First time I thought it just using in Music, but when I read the reading article “WHAT COMES AFTER REMIX?” by Lev Manovich. I understood how variety things included Remix and how it became a culture today!


What is Remix?

Before we start to talk some details, lets exactly understand what is remix culture?

According to the article “Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture” by Eduardo Navas. Remix culture can be defended as a global activity consisting of the creative and efficient exchange of information made possible by digital technologies [1]. Easy way to understand the activity is people taking samples from old materials to combine them into new ways with personal style. Today, remix can be use in variety ways, such as music, art, web applications, new media, etc.

I would like to share one most striking case study about iPhone from Everything is a Remix website, that to tell you the iPhone and its place in Remix culture. The seven minute shot explores Apple’s innovation with its use of multi touch technology.

Here is a link to watch this video: http://everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/ [2]


In this video, Kirby is saying that Steve Jobs and his team at Apple didn’t really invent Multi-Touch on mobile devices. Instead, Apple took the technology that’s been available for years, improved it vastly and shrunken it to fit inside mobile devices.

The video also does a great job explaining how real-world objects influenced the choices Apple made during the original iPhone development – hello, skeuomorphism!

Before you jump straight for the comments without bothering to watch the entire clip, keep in mind that Kirby does not accuse Apple of plagiarism – quite the contrary, he credits the firm for engineering a device that everyone’s trying to copy wholesale [3].


Remix = Copy = Steal?

Remix = Creative = Innovation?

What are some of the challenges and opportunities it poses for the professional designer and design industries?

In Remix culture, there are some of challenges and also can be opportunities. Remix is copying, then transforming and combining. I think that is creativity. Says Kirby Ferguson. So copying, transforming and combining is challenge and opportunity. Whether something is good or bad or revolutionary or derivative is about how much work you put into it, how long you’ve been doing it, how sophisticated the combinations are, how inspired the combinations are [4]. It is just like adding sugar to a salty food or deriving a new formula from the exiting one. This process is also not so simple. It includes one’s innovative thought, hard work and with addition of all other qualities which becomes finally entertaining.

In my opinion of Remix culture, it is really good challenge and opportunity in design industries. Original designs have their own charm but modification is also known as creativity. There are many old designs which were modified and they helped a lot in maintaining their freshness even today. There are advantages and disadvantages of everything. But if we try to develop a better understanding and using of remix, we will come out a lot of good design!



[1] Ferguson, K.  (Dec, 2013). Everything is a Remix case study: The iPhone.  Retrieved October 18, 2014 from http://everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/

[2] Lillie, B.  (Aug, 2012). Are all new things a mash-up of what came before? A Q&A with Kirby Ferguson. Retrieved October 18, 2014 from http://blog.ted.com/2012/08/10/are-all-new-things-a-mash-up-of-what-came-before-a-qa-with-kirby-ferguson/

[3] Navas, E.  (Aug, 2010). Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture. Retrieved October 18, 2014 from http://remixtheory.net/?p=444

[4] Zibreg, C.  (Dec, 2013). Everything is a Remix: the iPhone edition. Retrieved October 18, 2014 from http://www.idownloadblog.com/2013/12/12/everything-is-remix-iphone/