Sharing, copying and being creative

Ze Frank’s TED Talk centers around the idea of sharing online. When Alec first explained the synopsis on our mini lecture, I really didn’t know what that would mean. In Frank’s talk, he gave many examples surrounding sharing online. What struck most with his talk and I think, part of the reason I was so engaged, was that all of the anecdotes and projects he shared had positive outcomes. As I have mentioned in previous posts, so much of what is online is negative or at least that is what is shown in the media. It was so nice and refreshing to see something positive come out of sharing online and of people stepping up to help out, even if it was for something simple and not-life-or-death such the song one father made for his daughter after her tough day. I also liked that his projects demanded creativity, and, what is somewhat astounding, is that people pulled through with creativity, so obviously putting in effort and giving of their time to fulfill the project. For example, the hotline project where people called in with their troubles, where deejays eventually remixed and made them into soundbites. With this particular project, what got me thinking was when Frank mentioned he gained permission from the callers to share their messages. Of course, it’s only natural that he needed permission, but so often I think the gut reaction for people in cases like that would be to say “no! never!” whereas if we as a society would be more willing to share, we might see more positive things happen.

In Michael Wesch’s lecture, he speaks of YouTube and the new things it has offered our society in terms of sharing and connecting with each other. When he introduces Gary Brolsma, the Numa Numa boy, he describes him as sharing his [Gary Brolsma] story, having the time of his life and not caring what anyone else thinks. This is poignant as so often society is all about looking cool, being smooth and acting according to norm (I think what is ironic is that we are also supposed to always be our own person too but that’s a whole other topic). As Wesch states all the recreators of Brolsma’s Numa Numa video weren’t mocking him, they were “venerating him.” After watching Wesch’s interpretation of this decade-old phenomenon, I now see it more as a way to have offered a connection between strangers, a fun music trend to participate in and it allowed people to copy, transform and combine the Numa Numa song into a creative piece of their own. Do you see this as I do?

The video series Everything is a Remix…. I thought it was just a well-accepted and known fact that every story is just a “remix” of another? I distinctly remember sitting in my Grade 12 English class with my teacher saying that all stories can be found in some way of another to be based off of Shakespeare. We were reading Hamlet at the time. And really, I now see the truth in this. I don’t think this means you can’t enjoy a movie or TV series, you just might know the direction it will take. An example of this that I always think of is Nicholas Sparks movies, they all follow the same plot line, give or take a few twists here or there. That doesn’t mean I don’t watch and instead I just make them up in my head, I thought one of the main reasons of watching TV or a movie was to suspend reality and enjoy it a bit.

giphy  giphy1

Courtesy of Giphy (1) (2)

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Screenshot from Everything is a Remix Part 3

In Part 3 of Everything is a Remix, they examine the creation of Apple’s desktop computer, giving a brief history of the Macintosh desktop, detailing where Apple got its ideas to Copy, Transform and Combine to make their own computer. It isn’t hard to see this sequence of events still play out in our tech world. With something as simple as cell phones, we see how one company will introduce one feature and then a few months or a year later, Android or Apple will have a very similar app on their device. I think that that is part of being creative, seeing one person’s idea and then altering it to make it your own. Does anyone agree with this point of view?

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Of course, there is the fine line of blatant copying instead of transforming or combining but I think we often teach students in this model of copying, transforming and combining, and in turn hopefully the difference between that and copying. But that being said, as they say in Part 3 “we need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding.” A fine balance I guess! I certainly try and make this a part of my teaching. An obvious example is teaching them to write, I model the goal of the curricular outcome with a few sentences and then instruct them to do the same but with say, their own favourite animal or whatever topic we are working on. I think as teachers we often do this indirectly with teaching study skills, ways of thinking or moral ways of living (e.g. values). Does anyone else see this connection?

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3 thoughts on “Sharing, copying and being creative

  1. I really enjoyed your post! I found myself thinking some of the same things as I was watching the videos and I agree with you. It’s SO nice to see some positives to social media and connections made online. We often focus entirely on the negative or one negative example sticks out, while the positive ones fall to the background. I also found Everything is a Remix completely mind-blowing because I never really thought about it. I also see your connection with teaching. I think we model what we want based off of others, even if we don’t directly think about it that way. We saw something modeled one way, so we model it a similar way. It’s all connected, and it’s all open. This open education concept is really interesting and it’s making me think a lot more about why I do things a certain way in my teaching and most of it, is because I’ve seen it somewhere else! We know what works by viewing others so “don’t fix what isn’t broken” if that makes sense!

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