Video: Everything is a Remix

February 24, 2012

The documentary Everything is a Remix, produced by Kirby Ferguson, explores the idea that no idea is original. Ferguson argues that essentially all forms of creativity just remix existing ideas. In his words:

Remixing is a folk art but the techniques are the same ones used at any level of creation: copy, transform, and combine. 

He defines “remix” as “social evolution.” It’s similar to standard evolutionary theory, but instead of genes, it’s memes that are being “copied, transformed and combined.” This cultural development occurs through ideas, behaviors and skills being constantly used and reused. Just like the evolution of beings and species, social evolution is how society not only survives, but thrives.

The film’s illuminating examination of the concepts of creativity, copyright, intellectual property, and innovation make the four-part series well worth watching.  It does away with misconceptions and myths about the creativity involved in music (Led Zeppelin, Episode 1) , movies (Star Wars, Episode 2) and technological innovation (Apple, Episode 3), showing how these are all the products of remix than sheer ingenuity. The final episode is relevant to the ongoing fiasco over ACTA.

Episode 1: You could even say that everything is a remix.

Download hi-res MKV of Part 1 (with subtitles)


Episode 2: An exploration of the remix techniques involved in producing films.

Download hi-res MKV of Part 2 (with subtitles)


Episode 3: Creativity isn’t magic.

Download hi-res MKV of Part 3 (with subtitles)


Episode 4:

Our system of law doesn’t acknowledge the derivative nature of creativity. Instead, ideas are regarded as property, as unique and original lots with distinct boundaries. But ideas aren’t so tidy. They’re layered, they’re interwoven, they’re tangled. And when the system conflicts with the reality… the system starts to fail. 

 Probably the most powerful quote of the series is taken from Henry Ford:

I invented nothing new.

I simply assembled into a car the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work… Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready, and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.

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2 Responses to Video: Everything is a Remix

  1. wk
    August 12, 2012 at 5:13 pm

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