Blog post 9: Remix culture

This week’s “reading” is the video documentary RIP: A Remix Manifesto (1 hour 28 minutes) AND a 10-minute TED Talk video. The links are on the Course Schedule page. Watch both videos and make notes before you begin doing the activity.

This week you are going to make a video. I encourage you to use the grammar and principles of remixing as much as you like.

Please be very careful NOT to use TOO MUCH of someone else’s work. I say this not only because of copyright concerns but also because my motivation is to see you think for yourself. If you are going to “quote” (copy) a big portion of someone else’s work, you are wasting everybody’s time (we could just go to the original — why do we need you to quote for us?). I want to see YOUR ideas and YOUR creativity. Do not use 5 photos from one source — use ONE. Do not use more than 30 seconds from one video — better to use 5 or 10 seconds. Continue reading


TED Talk by Wael Ghonim

This is the video I mentioned in class, in which Wael Ghonim discusses how the Internet must change to support social change in the world. Wael was mentioned in the Week 3 readings as the well-known creator of the Facebook page “We Are All Khaled Said,” which helped to unite Egyptians in a mass protest during the Arab Spring in 2011. Thanks to Osama for this link!

An added note: In an article I like very much, scholar Merlyna Lim expands on the “We Are All Khaled Said” example:

Previous movements in Egypt “had already created a basis for a mass political action. Indeed the story of Khaled Said can also be read as a culmination of the longstanding online campaign against torture waged on blogs such as Wael Abbas’s Egyptian Awareness, Nael Atef’s Torture in Egypt, and Bloggers Against Torture. However, the critical new important element introduced by the “We are all Khaled Said” movement was a strong symbolic representation, an iconic figure to fight against the authorities” (Lim, 2012, p. 241; boldface added).

Think carefully before you claim that one blog or one hashtag started a movement! There is often a long history of activism before the spark that lit the fire.

Remix Redux

Having graded all your remix posts, I would like to share a few video remixes with you.

If you’ve seen more than two Harry Potter movies, you will like this (by Mike Relm):

There is a series of many amusing U.S. TV ads for Old Spice body wash for men. Here is one:

And here is a remix of the sexy Old Spice man (also by Mike Relm):

A huge genre in remix is the anime music video. These usually consist of one pop, rock or techno song with visuals edited together from dozens of different animation episodes. In this example, the anime is American, from the great Nickelodeon series Avatar The Last Airbender:

Last but not least, it can be fun to remix the President:


Week of Oct. 27: Video

Next week (not this week!!) you’ll be viewing a video documentary in class. I wanted to mention it now because I would like you to understand the relationship between this video and the readings for THIS week.

Burma VJ tells the story of an organized effort by volunteer reporters who video’d the almost-revolution in Burma (called Myanmar by the military junta that runs the country) in 2007.

It does not matter if you have no interest in Burma — this documentary is great for at least two reasons (in my opinion).

One is the use of technology and media to document a large public protest inside a country that is one of the most restricted and repressed in the entire world today.* Because of small, cheap video cameras, the reporters were able to record what was actually happening in their country (even after the government expelled all the foreign journalists). Because of the Internet and satellite transmissions, the world was able to see it.

The other reason is related to the ideas of activism and dissent. I would like you to think about “regime change” while you are watching this video. Think about what the population can do if the government is not serving the public good. Think about the American revolution, the French revolution, the Russian revolution — any historic moment when the people stood up and said, “Enough!” Think about any historic situation you know when the people did not stand up — for example, Nazi Germany.

The right to dissent is protected in a democratic society. In undemocratic countries, dissent is punished with arrest, imprisonment, and even death.

So think about what Rohlinger and Brown (2009) found people saying about patriotism and dissent after September 11 in the United States.

Think about whether dissent is safe or risky.

  1. When is it risky, and why?
  2. If people are risking their very lives to dissent, to oppose their government — why do they do that?
  3. What are the possible outcomes?

* Freedom House ranks nine countries as the least free in the world: Burma, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.