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Mash-up Madness

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Both of the articles we were assigned addressed the idea that remixes/mashups are important elements of learning, but are not necessarily valued as such in today’s mainstream education.

In her essay Praxis 2.0: Escaping the edu-travelogue, Melanie McBride argued that we shouldn’t let traditional teaching methods (or, as she referred to it, “teacher-directed showandtellagogy”) interfere with experiential learning. I thought the comparison of education to traveling was particularly interesting and I agree that learning often feels more like creating a travelogue than actually traveling. It seems like what McBride is cautioning against is many teachers’ tendencies to teach what needs to be taught, rather than teaching what needs to be learned.

Although she focuses on technology, this concept reminded me of discussions we had in a writing class I took last semester. The class was about teaching writing and was designed for education majors, so I’m not exactly sure why I was in it, but we had a lot of interesting debates over the relevance of standardized tests and how many teachers today only teach students what they will be tested on, rather than working to make sure they are truly educated.

I’m not sure where the line between traveling and simply creating a travelogue falls, because, it seems, you’d still have to travel in order to create your travelogue, but it also seems easy to fall into the trap of traveling for the sole purpose of having a travelogue, rather than traveling for the experience. Many of my creative writing classes, work at the paper and ds106 have all been so hands-on, that I don’t necessarily realize I’m even learning until the work is done and I have time to examine it from an outside perspective. This, to me, is what a “traveling” education could possibly entail. Classes with lectures and tests and whatnot, where I’m only learning the information because I have to in order to pass, seem like they would be more of a “travelogue” situation. It should be noted that classes in the theater department fall into their own category I like to call “bullshit,” much like when you decide to take a day-trip to Midgetville, only to find out it was torn down in 2008 and you just wasted your entire day.

This essay was a little difficult to comprehend though so maybe I’m completely missing the metaphor.

I think I was more interested in some of the other subjects this article and the second one, “Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix” by Brian Lamb, focused on. They both touched on debates around whether or not remixes/mash-ups can be considered valid forms of creativity and where to draw the line in terms of intellectual property rights.

Some of the most interesting things I’ve seen this semester has been riffs on pre-existing work. Although there’s definitely something to be said for being the first one to do something, I think it takes just as much creativity to look at what someone else has done and come up with your own spin on it. I definitely understand the importance of paying credit where credit is due (My friends steal my jokes all the time and I never get credit, because how would that even work, and it’s insufferable to see someone else get laughs that should have been mine. I wish I could copyright everything that comes out of my mouth. They should pay me, or something), but I also think that, as long as the ideas and elements you’re remixing/working with are properly attributed, we should hold just as much stock in these derivatives of an idea as we do in the original.

I’m not sure if remixing is something that can really be taught, beyond giving students the necessary technical skills and introducing them to “good” remixes versus ones that are poorly done or incoherent. Much like most of the other work we’ve done so far this semester, it’s up to students to experiment with the process and create something brilliant through trial and error.

Because I actually have always really enjoyed listening to mash-ups, I’ve included a few of my current favorites. I really love when the person who makes them puts unexpected artists on the same track. It’s also great how they’re almost always free because the people who make them can’t make a profit off of someone else’s work.

Lollipop Dreams – My Sick Uncle [(500) Days of Weezy] MP3 Download
Bitch, Look at me now (Two Weeks) – Childish Gambino MP3 Download
The Hood Internet – Virginia is for Cameras (Clipse x Matt and Kim) MP3 Download

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