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Ole C Brudvik's List: Participatory Culture

  • Mar 15, 13

    "Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content

    The digital remixing of media content makes visible the degree to which all cultural expression builds on what has come before. Appropriation is understood here as a process by which students learn by taking culture apart and putting it back together. Art does not emerge whole cloth from individual imaginations. Rather, it emerges through the artist’s engagement with previous cultural materials. Artists build on, are inspired by, appropriate and transform other artists’ work. They do so by tapping into a cultural tradition or deploying the conventions of a particular genre. Beginning artists often undergo an apprenticeship, during which they try on for size the styles and techniques of other, more established artists. Even well established artists work with images and themes that have some currency within the culture. Of course, this is not how we generally talk about creativity in schools, where the tendency is to discuss artists as individuals who rise upon or stand outside any aesthetic tradition."

    • Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content

        The digital remixing of media content makes visible the degree to which all cultural expression builds on what has come before. Appropriation is understood here as a process by which students learn by taking culture apart and putting it back together. Art does not emerge whole cloth from individual imaginations. Rather, it emerges through the artist’s engagement with previous cultural materials. Artists build on, are inspired by, appropriate and transform other artists’ work. They do so by tapping into a cultural tradition or deploying the conventions of a particular genre. Beginning artists often undergo an apprenticeship, during which they try on for size the styles and techniques of other, more established artists. Even well established artists work with images and themes that have some currency within the culture. Of course, this is not how we generally talk about creativity in schools, where the tendency is to discuss artists as individuals who rise upon or stand outside any aesthetic tradition.
    • Our focus on autonomous, creative expression falsifies the actual process by which meaning is generated and new works produced. Most of the classics we teach in the schools are themselves the product of appropriation and transformation, or what we would now call «sampling» and «remixing.» Homer remixed Greek myths to construct The Iliad and The   Odyssey; Shakespeare sampled his plots and characters from other author's plays; the Sistine Chapel ceiling mashes up stories and images from across the entire Biblical tradition. Lewis Carroll spoofs the vocabulary of exemplary verses that were then standard to formal education. Many core works of the western canon emerged through a process of retelling and elaboration: the figure of King Arthur shifts from an obscure footnote in an early chronicle to the full-blown character of Morte D'Arthur within a few centuries, as the original story is built on by many generations of storytellers.

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    • Unravelling the social network: theory and research
    • Despite the widespread popularity of social networking sites (SNSs) amongst children and young people in compulsory education, relatively little scholarly work has explored the fundamental issues at stake. This paper makes an original contribution to the field by locating the study of this online activity within the broader terrain of social network theory in order to inform future educational debate and further research. The first section offers a way of classifying different kinds of online social networking and then places this within the context of the study of social networks. It is argued that relational networks create a sense of belonging and that online networks just as easily trace the contours of existing social divisions as they transcend or transform them. This analysis informs the second section which specifically addresses educational issues, including both the attractions and the limitations of such work. Th
    • Ripping is gathering digital content, mix is selecting, edit and/or recombining, feed is to transmit and to share.
       Today, when we browse and search, we invoke a series of chance operations - we use interfaces, icons, and text as a flexible set of languages and tools. Our semantic web is a remix of all available information - display elements, metadata, services
    • mages, and especially content - made immediately accessible.Paul Miller

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    • Historically, engineers learned by taking machines apart and putting them back together again. Can young people also learn how culture works by sampling and remixing the materials of their culture? Might this ability to appropriate and transform valued cultural materials be recognized as an important new kind of cultural competency, what some people are calling the new media literacies? How might we meaningfully incorporate this fascination with mash-ups into our pedagogical practices and what values should we place on the kinds of new content which young people produce by working on and working over existing cultural materials? In this program, we will showcase a range of contemporary projects that embrace a hands-on approach to contemporary and classical media materials as a means of getting young people to think critically about their own roles as future media producers and consumers.


      The full speaker list can be found at this sessions' website as well as a RealAudio stream.


      The Media in Transitions conference is a joint effort of MIT Comparative Media Studies and the MIT Communications Forum

    • Summary


      By Greg Peverill-Conti


      [This is an edited summary, not a verbatim transcript.]


      Moderator Henry Jenkins began by pointing out that there had been discussions throughout the conference of the historical antecedents of the topics at hand.  In terms of using remixing as a tool for learning, he cited Lev Kuleshov – who started what may have been the first film studies program in the early days of the Soviet Union – asking his students to re-edit Birth of a Nation and Intolerance and also pointed to the use of commonplace books in the 19th century as an example of collected/appropriated content.


      The purpose of this session is to share information on a number of current projects dedicated to promoting learning through remixing content. Jenkins pointed out that engineers learn how machines work by taking things apart and putting them back together. Can the same be done with culture? The people and projects represented on this panel demonstrate that it might.

    • Erik Blankinship started things off by discussing his current company, Media Modifications, which develops tools for exposing and enhancing the structure of media in order to make its full creative and learning potential accessible to all. This is a theme he promises to return to throughout the course of his comments and demonstration.


      If one starts with a black screen, you have the space to create a screenplay and ultimately a film or video.  In the case of his demonstration, the video was a clip from Star Trek the Next Generation. On the left-hand side of the screen the video of the scene appeared, on the right side, the text of the script.  Blankenship was able to drag and drop sections of the script which in turn reordered the words and action in the video. He described it as being similar to magnetic poetry, exposing the structure of the media and allowing it to be rearranged and reloaded.


      He next demonstrated how this type of remixing and restructuring could be used to create new content.  In this case, he created a countdown by selecting and connecting numbers used by Star Trek characters in many different episodes.  Giving fans access to the structure of media – as in this case – can be a lot of fun.


      This project led developers to begin further work around the idea of adaptations. In the case of the Star Trek countdown, he was able to adapt the Star Trek content to tell the simple story conveyed through the numbers in an interesting and original way.  At this point he announced, a soon-to-launched Web site that will provide access to tools for media adaptation.


      He used tools to demonstrate on how people can expose the structure of media to create new adaptations.

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    • Appropriation is central to the new media literacy. Appropriation should not be understood simply as plagerism -- that is, simply taking what someone else has created as your own property. Nor should appropriation be understood simply as resistance -- that is, refusing
       or rejecting existing cultural framework. The point of appropriation is some kind of negotiation between the self and the larger culture -- an absorption and transformation of shared resources into the raw materials of one's own expression.


      For beginning creators, appropriation provides a scaffolding, allowing them to focus on some dimensions of cultural production and rely on the existing materials to sustain others. For all creators, appropriation facilitates communication with others because it acknowledges the shared cultural context within which all expression must occur.


      All expression depends on a balance between convention and invention or appropriation and innovation. As we develop media literacy education, we need to rethink the assumptions about the creative process which shape our current educational practices.

    • Media in Transition 5: Learning Through Remixing
      • New Media Literacy Framework (Jenkins) on "Learning through Remixing".

        Appropriation: meaningfully sampling and remixing media content.
        Judgement: evaluating the reliability and credebility of different sources.
        Networking: searching for, synthesizing, and disseminating information.

    • Combinatory: produsage is fundamentally based on an approach which deconstructs overall tasks into a more granular set of distributed problems, and therefore in the first place generates a series of individual, incomplete artefacts which require further assembly before becoming usable and useful as a whole. As a result, information and knowledge as generated through produsage processes is itself distributed and inherently incomplete; as Pesce puts it, "knowledge is everywhere, freely available, but hyperintelligence doesn't confer any great wisdom". In order to effectively participate in and benefit from the knowledge space of hyper- or collective intelligence, therefore those engaging in and with produsage and its artefacts require enhanced capacities to combine and recombine these specific artefacts in their pursuit of personal understanding. But beyond the pursuit of knowledge itself, combinatory capacities are also required for active participation in produsage processes: as we have seen, produsage in many contexts also proceeds from the reappropriation, reuse, and remixing of existing content in new combinations which themselves create new meaning and new understandings of knowledge. Learners must therefore develop the capacities to identify and harness individual chunks of existing information which may be constructively employed in this fashion, as well as the capacities to undertake such recombination and redistribution of information and knowledge through the shared collaborative environments of produsage projects.
    • Metaverse meets mash-up: come June 15, there's going to be another Free Culture/Creative Commons event in Second Life, this one springboarding off the recent CC Art Show 2006 at NYU and the Sharing is Daring event at Harvard.  The object here is to take the art featured at those sites, and then remix it for an in-world showing on the 15th.  You can do the remixing with Photoshop and other standard tools, of course, but for this event, the ideal medium is SL itself.  Which is what I did with an Untitled photo by Joseph Gergel, uploading it as a texture, displaying it in-world, and using it as a backdrop for a dramatic screenshot, above.


      No doubt Residents can come up with way better remixes, taking the appropriately-licensed art from here and here*, then converting them into screenshots, 3D sculptures, interactive sites, whatever.  I'm looking forward to reporting on what comes out of this.

    • The Hip hop DJs improved on the skills previously developed by Jamaican music producers, and Disco DJs during the seventies. They took beatmixing and turned it into beat juggling, which means that they played with beats and sounds on the turntable to create unique momentary compositions. This is known today as turntablism. This practice found its way into the music studio and became part of the tradition of sampling; and sampling is the basis for the popular practice of cut/copy and paste.
    • Remix (with a capital “R”) is not only defined by material activities but the political contexts of those activities. The remix of NYC was developed in large part due to commercial interests to promote specific songs in a growing consumerist market thriving on the wings of Disco and Hip Hop subcultures. Yet historically, it is agreed that the basic concept of remixing that was defined in NYC was already at play in Jamaica. When considering this, one should keep in mind that the type of consumption that took place in Jamaica’s culture is very different from what took place in popular culture in the United States and othe places of the world, and that this does affect the different names that acts of appropriation attain. In short, there are cultural and political reasons why Jamaican musicians called their remixes “versions” and not “remixes.”

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    • World Wide Web as a whole is also completely modular. It consists from numerous Web pages, each in its turn consisting from separate media elements. Every element can be always accessed on its own. Normally we think of elements as belonging to their corresponding Web sites, but this just a convention, reinforced by commercial Web browsers.
    • he Internet also depends on sampling, on cut/copy and paste in order to function as a network. File sharing, downloading open source software, live streaming of video and audio, sending and receiving e-mails are but a few of the activities that rely on copying, and deleting (cutting) information from one point to another as data packets. This means that cut/copy and paste is a pivotal element of Internet based art, and apply directly to the Turbulence archive.
    • What is particular to Internet art is that the user plays a crucial role in activating the work, like the DJ does when s/he plays with vinyl records. The Internet user manipulates the files in the Turbulence archive in the same way the DJ manipulates the record on the turntable. Both access pre-recorded material. The seventies DJ, however, was following the tradition of hackers, because s/he was manipulating records on a machine that was originally used for passive listening. This active interaction with pre-recorded material became part of the mainstream, and we can see how the online user falls within a category in part deriving from the DJ; the user now is expected to play with the files (like a DJ with records) and not just listen or view them passively, because interaction, touching, or in the case of the online user, clicking, is now integrated into culture.

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    • Who is the Author?  Sampling / Remixing / Open Source
    • The commonality of menu selection / remixing  / sampling / synthesis / “open sourcing”  in contemporary culture  calls for a whole new critical vocabulary to adequately describe these  operations, their multiple variations and combinations. One way to develop  such a vocabulary is to begin correlate the terms that already exist  but are limited to particular media. Electronic music theory brings  to the table analysis of mixing, sampling, and synthesis; academic literary  theory can also make a contribution, with its theorizations of intertext,  paratext21, and hyperlinking; the scholars of visual culture  can contribute their understanding of montage, collage and appropriation.  Having a critical vocabulary that can be applied across media will help  us to finally accept these operations as legitimate cases of authorship,  rather than exceptions. To quote Poscardt one last time, “however  much quoting, sampling and stealing is done – in the end it is the  old subjects that undertake their own modernization. Even an examination  of technology and the conditions of productions does not rescue aesthetics  from finally having to believe in the author. He just looks different.”22

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