Friday, April 5, 2013

New media narratives: Remix culture shakes things up

First off, here is my Flickr set for Assignment #3.

There is an art and a craft to taking existing content and creating new meaning. With the availability of digitalized text, images, video clips, and audio files online, there are endless possibilities for creative expression through remixing. Remixing originated with sampling different music tracks to create new mashups, but it has evolved beyond audio. The combination of available content, simple tools, and social platforms has made remix culture an everyday norm. People craft photo collages, videos, and other web projects, making use of all kinds of existing content while adding in their own unique interpretation. This was not possible with older media institutions as much of the content was not digitalized nor readily sharable on mass.

This paradigm shift that blurs the lines between consumer and producer has given way to a dynamic ecosystem of creativity, freedom, and people power. The megaphone belongs to anyone who wins the attention of viewers with their work. Of course, this comes with complexities around authorship and intellectual property. In the Flickr set, I've highlighted a recent and relevant example  - the Harlem Shake. This viral meme took the Internet by storm this year and recently hit 1 billion page views. It was a good example to draw on as the song itself is a remix (by Harry Bauer Rodrigues who used samples from Hector Delgado and Jayson Musson) and tens of thousands have upload their own version using the track. It emphasizes the active participation of consumers, something that characterizes remix culture and the digital revolution we're going through. 

The topic of remixing seems to evoke interest in academics, artists, musicians, lawyers, political scientists, and digital media experts alike. It is fascinating as it brings people across the spectrum to the same table.

For more on this discussion topic, check out the accompanying Flickr images and watch or re-watch the first remix dance video that got a billion people shaking. 


Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Fitzgerald, B. and O'Brien, D. (2005). Digital sampling and culture jamming in a remix world: What does the law allow? Media and Arts Law Review, 10(4), 279-298. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where old and new media collide. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H. (2006). 
Welcome to convergence culture. Retrieved from

Knobel, M. and Lankshear, C. (2008). Remix: The art and craft of endless hybridization. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 22-33. Retrieved from

Lessig, L. (2004). Remix: Making art and commerce thrive in the hybrid economy. Penguin, New York.

Lessig, L (2010). Re-examining the remix. Retrieved from

Lynskey, D. (2013). Harlem Shake: Could it kill sampling? The Guardian. Retrieved from 

The Harlem Shake Hits 1 Billion Views (2013, April 4). The Visible Measures Blog. Retrieved from

McKinley, J. (2013, March 10). Surprise hit was a shock for artists heard on it. New York Times. Retrieved from


  1. Great post and Flickr presentation on remix culture Sylvia. I really enjoyed the case study you presented on the Harlem Shake highlighting intellectual property. Fascinating to see how things will play out in terms of ownership, credit, and royalties. Rodrigues, Delgado and Musson are claiming the music, but the real phenomenon has been the participatory remix activity around the videos. Your topic highlights how unprepared we are to deal with issues like this as digital media explodes globally, and more and more people have unprecedented access to music sampling. I see that we both found Lessig to be a great resource for this topic. Lessig's comment that "culture as a whole can be seen as a remix", is a perspective I share with you. I really appreciated how mainstream and relevant your topic was to remix culture!

  2. Hi Sylvia, I really enjoyed the Flickr stream and your very interesting array of pictures and academic insight to demonstrate the span of remix creation. I lost a lot of time actually looking at the other videos of this phenom on YouTube. Now that I know how to do this dance – thanks to (Professor Locke) I have to find a dance floor soon ☺

    I am encouraged to see that copyright owners are taking a more relaxed stance on remixing -- for example, the Gangnam Dance video -- also being remixed across the world and in violation of copyright violation that is not being pursued. I find this encouraging, the owners no doubt recognizing that the revenue streams created from the collective buzz is enough.

    I took a peek at all the video renditions of the Harlem Shuffle (the Gangnam Dance too). I guess some things are just irresistible in terms of wanting to copy. No doubt there will be an academic doing a long term study on what goes viral and why – but it seems to certainly center firmly on music and dancing – those basic human tribal instincts. YouTube is an amazing reflection of our culture and our folklore.