Let us be honest; humanity comes chalk full of liars and thieves. Although humanity also carries bright stars of original thought and innovation, for every Tesla there comes an Edison. For every great creation a slew of pilfers. It is evident from the game of survival: those so infused with insight create, those endowed with cleverness steal. Infringement and theft of intellectual property has existed since the rise of mankind. It transcends culture, creed, and race, but traditionally suffered a setback in exposure. The early inability of man equated to a very low bandwidth, which resulted in a slow diffusion of ideas and creations. Before the domestication of beasts of burden, long treacherous terrain clogged the bandwidth. Before the creation of the ship, the ocean stood an impermeable barrier. This continues for centuries where the flow of ideas, and the ability to steal these ideas, slowly increases with each new piece of technology. It continues until humanity reaches the age of the World Wide Web; where the easy of communication and the flow of ideas seems nearly limitless due to the expanding level of technology. So the question is not whether remix and convergence culture happens in this social media age, but to what purpose the users are putting this age old human technique.
In the realm of American politics there seem to stand two main forms of remix culture and convergence culture. These sometimes crossover and will certainly affect the other, but primarily these function in different ways. This blog will explore the basic nature of these two models. I will refer to them as the official and the public as it indicates the origin of creation.
The first category has to do with the official candidates, parties, or establishments. This approach attempts to sway public opinion via two ways convergence and remix. The prime style of convergence can be seen in the crossover of traditional media with new media. Evident in debate platforms being aired on live web-feeds, news stories being made for online databases, and traditional cold calling being performed using analytical tools to target online customers. The official campaign of Bernie Sanders is a wonderful place to start as it is highly unlikely he would have secured so many and so fanatical supporters through traditional means. However, through the convergence of traditional political campaigning and the wide world of the internet Senator Sanders tapped into a specific type of audience disillusioned from traditional media sources. The official website is a great example as it pulls the traditional style of affirming ones political standing and support away from mail in forms to electronic process. The other style seeking to sway opinion comes from the remix of traditional images being reused and altered to endorse the candidate or debase the opponent.
For the public the use of remix and convergence culture seems to be even higher. These consist of the millions out in the world now capable of taking pictures, clip, sounds, and paint and adjust ideas to specific themes. Below is the perfect example from The People for Bernie Sanders 2016 and Dank Ass Memes (video link below). Convergence of pop-culture with political message shows one type of mix. The combination of the medium between video, altered sound clip, and internet clip shows a true convergence of media.
This works as a prime example of remix culture as the video producers took a clip from the hugely popular Star Wars franchise and overlaid it with Bernie Sanders rhetoric. This pushes the ideals of the Senator to a different medium and will reach a different audience as a result. The question covering this remix, as with many remixes, is one of infringement versus alteration for creation. Is this altered enough to avoid running sideways of a copyright? Does it bring something not present in the first? These types of questions plague remix culture. Remix culture, since 2008, seems associated with Lawrence Lessig as his books jumps to the forefront of crisis of copyright infringement issues in the new tech age. With the advent of the internet, and specifically a user friendly internet, the ability to copy the original, alter it slightly or otherwise, and paste the alternative has increased exponentially. This creates a legal nightmare forcing a massive overhaul of current copyright procedure and processing. Interestingly, the problem of infringement seems slightly more blurred now due to the ease of access and the creativity of the reviser. However, legal or not, remix and convergence seems engrained in the fabric of social dialogue.