Remix culture is one of those unique features of Web 2.0 that utilizes almost every tool the digital age has to offer. While remixing isn’t a new thing by any means, new cultural and technological advances have taken it to an entirely new level. New forms of access, communication and social networking have made it much easier for fan communities to become an integral part of whatever it is they’re following by enabling them to create something themselves.
Lawrence Lessig assigns a broad definition to the idea of remixing. He argues that any form of comment about a work takes the author’s original meaning and remixes it to fit in with the reader’s own life, using it to extend their own ideas. He states, “Every single act of reading and choosing and criticizing and praising culture is in this sense remix, and it is through this general practice that our cultures get made” (Knobel & Lankshear 22). After reading/viewing/hearing a work, remix culture allows for the audience to add to or assign new meanings to a given text. The web as it is today encourages participation from its users and sites like YouTube or Facebook wouldn’t exist without user generated media. This enables sites like these to have a symbiotic relationship with the remix culture. For example, YouTube benefits from fan made machinema videos, and machinema fans benefit from having a platform to publish their own works.
The introduction of new technologies and social media has made it extremely easy for users to create and publish their own remixes according to the definition provided by Lessig. Programs like Garageband and Photoshop allow people of any background to create something of their own. And if someone has an idea but doesn’t necessarily have the understanding needed to bring their ideas to life, social media provides easy to find tips to aid in the process. Whether it be Facebook groups or discussion boards dedicated to the making of remixes, networking online allows for the remix culture to reach a broader audience of fans and creators.
Examples of remix culture can be found in just about type of media that can be thought of. Users post remix videos, Mp3s, fan fiction, edited photographs, fake movie trailers; anything that will best convey the message they are trying to send. Kutiman, a figure that was used in The Social Media Reader as an example of what collaboration is not, creates videos that can be considered remixes. He uses videos of people playing an instrument and mixes them, not as they were intended to be used, into a new remixed composition. Musician Danger Mouse took track’s from The Beatle’s White Album and added Jay-Z’s lyrics to them creating an entirely new remixed album. Fans of television shows or comic books pay tribute to their favorite love stories by editing clips together showcasing these elements of the show. It could be as the show’s authors intended like in the case of Jim and Pam from The Office or it could be completely determined by the audiences interpretation, like the Spock/Kirk videos. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the message is, remix culture allows for the audience to have some agency in the things they want to participate in.