A quick and dirty history of the ‘rip and remix’…

I have been thinking this morning about the term ‘rip and remix’ that Graham over at Teaching Generation Z introduced me to. It is a compelling term, and I have been pondering it in context of the way our students learn or make sense of their learning. My thoughts are by no means exhaustive, but I am intrigued by the fact that his is by no means a new phenomenom….the technology which is being used to do so and the speed and efficiency it enables may be new, but the ‘rip and remix’ is by no means new. A short literary exploration:

Homer’s Odyssey has been constantly remixed by emerging generations as they appropriate and tell tales based on his narrative. See Virgil’s Aeneid , retold through the eyes of Rome where Odysseus becomes Ulysses, a villain instead of a hero… Tennyson’s “Ulysses?, where Odysseus is again cast as Ulysses, but is now the hero and is transformed to represent the values of a changing British culture, Joyce also takes up and remixes Homer’s work in Ulysses , again reshaping the tale and character to conform to the context of his own culture.

See Shakespeare’s rip and remix of the German tale of Amleth in his recontextualized “Hamlet? .

A few examples of the rip and remix… All can be seen as a retelling of the original, or of placing the work and reshaping it into the context of culture and present understanding. Each author used the information provided previously to build upon and reinforce their narratives and add credibility to them. They are the historical literary muse whispering in the ear of the contemporary author, a literary palimpsest.

The act of the ‘rip and remix’ is nothing new. It has merely made its way into the digital platform. Our student’s use of this may be more frequent, but I would posit this is because it has become more obvious with ease of use. In any case, it is evidence of students trying to appropriate knowledge and assimilate it into their own understanding; it is evidence of an emerging and continuous learning dialogue by which (if it is documented correctly) we can trace the evolution of student thought to its ‘primordial’ roots.

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3 thoughts on “A quick and dirty history of the ‘rip and remix’…

  1. Matthew, I think I used the term incorrectly. It has been quoted as “rip, mix, learn” by quite a few edubloggers but I think I misquoted the term. I followed a link last night to a Lawrence Lessig powerpoint flash + audio presentation that describes this process perfectly (in the context of copyright)Free Culture. This shows how this natural process has been slowed by the pervading nature of copyright – hence the rise of Creative Commons to avoid the blogosphere and other read/write areas becoming a copyright minefield. So, we must be wary to ensure that our learning playground where we “rip, mix and learn” remains that way. We don’t want all the freshness and original twists on other people’s point of view drained away. Great points that you make – keep ripping and remixing.

  2. A follow up to my previous comment. Exploring CogDogBlog led me to a wiki that Alan Levine links to titled RipMixLearn – that could be origin of the correct phrase. Poke around this wiki – heaps of great stuff to explore and will help explain the higher purpose of blogs to the reluctant educators we all have to encounter.

  3. Graham,

    thank you for your comments. I will be checking out that wiki you mentioned asap.
    You raise some interesting points around the idea of copyright… I can see the potential for disaster in that area on the read/write web. I am familiar with Creative Commons, but didn’t know it was in response to this.
    I find it interesting that there is a ‘developing nations’ copyright that allows writers to share their works with people in developing nations for no charge. I have no idea how that is moderated, and am assuming it is on the honour code.
    Yes, I guess all this points to the need for accurate documentation when we take information from other sources.
    Thanks for the heads up…
    james

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