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MIT Study Suggests Remixing Leads to Unoriginality

Recently the MIT and Harvard University cultural diplomacy researchers, Benjamin Mako Hill and Abdrés Monory-Hernández, 'extensively studied' the social and cultural effects surrounding the post-modern bedroom remixing boom and how this artistic pastime holistically effects the translation and originality of buzz-music. In fact the duo produced a paper that turns up an interesting and rather controversial interpretation of results that they aptly named as 'The Remixing Dilemma: The Trade-off Between Generatively and Originality'.


Seemingly artistic licence, applicable skills, freedom of expression, and  individuality from remixers was held unaccountable throughout this paper where the team, at best, described that the aforementioned core skills in originality as "difficult to find". In a paper that effectively blanket brands remixes as 'popular' without founding or substance, two graphs were detailed that evidenced the fact that only a "tiny amount" of popular music tracks are remixed, but when they do they are disproportionally shared amongst the online community to the extreme for others to 'gain inspiration from'. However this may be a fair point if there are facts at play but branding remixers as comparable to [misinformed] Wikipedia contributors, along with the words "We suggest that each of the factors associated with generativity will also be associated with less original forms of remixing", suggests to me that  perhaps it would have been more concise if they branded remixing as second-generation creative thievery.


Indeed remixing is a popular habit and one that is helped by the growing online industry but their arguments are paradoxically cut short when you notice that they are suggesting on one part that they accept that first-generation remixers are 'original', but once these have been produced unoriginality is dependant. Throughout my academic career I have always formulated my own theoretical opinions for new issues or changing trends but I always utilised existing theories to support my findings and therefore have a base structure for success - not failure because this is what earned me a first class grade. With this in mind I am baffled as to why these bright academics with a solid career record can note that innovative technology, something that evidently drives forward change, is the opposite of what collaborative remixing produces. If this is so then we are just forever going to fall into a pit of unoriginality. In a blog post Monroy-Hernández comments "We feel that our results raise difficult but important challenges, especially for the designers of social media systems. For example, many social media sites track and display user prominence with leaderboards or lists of aggregate views. This technique may lead to increased generativity by emphasizing and highlighting creator prominence. That said, it may also lead to a decrease in originality of the remixes elicited. Our results regarding the relationship of complexity to generativity and originality of remixes suggest that supporting increased complexity, at least for most projects, may have fewer drawbacks." and continues "as supporters and advocates of remixing, we feel that although highly generative works that lead to highly original derivatives may be rare and difficult for system designers to support, understanding remixing dynamics and encouraging these rare projects remain a worthwhile and important goal."


Anyway, with the above said, it seems that innovation has been forgot as an asset where remixing and its intensive competitive state across the online community drives dreams and revolutions.


Edd Harris

Recently the MIT and Harvard University cultural diplomacy researchers, Benjamin Mako Hill and Abdrés Monory-Hernández, 'extensively studied' the social and cultural effect...

Edd Harris  - 15th May 2013

Article Ref: #MITRemixStudy