• Oral Tradition and Internet Technology by John Miles Foley

A contemporary and an ancient art

As the Wikipedia entry advises, remixing occurs in literature, art, music, and other media. More broadly, cultures are constantly interleaving old and new, domestic and foreign resources—combining religious beliefs and symbols, adapting governments and laws and customs as they encounter “new” cultural environments. The resulting remixes can be frozen into tAgora documents, and the process that produced them is thereby halted and fixed, at least for a while. In this fashion a remix becomes a thing in itself—a freestanding item, but with obvious debts to its constituents.

The possibility of remixing has come into clear focus with the advent of the eAgora, where digital weaving, unweaving, and reweaving is commonplace and expectable. Whereas the tAgora yields and deals in ordered series of invariable linear surfaces, the electronic marketplace offers the tools to reshape reality and the qualified citizenry to use and appreciate the new-media content that results.

What may not be so obvious to us moderns is that remixing is the ruling dynamic of the oAgora as well. Every oral performance is an oPathway-driven surfing of the traditional network, responding to different times, places, audiences, new cultural contacts, and other factors. Distributed authorship is the mode of creation, as in the eAgora, and variation within limits is the name of the compositional game, again as in the eAgora.

As in other aspects, then, we see the basic Pathways Project homology emerge in the correlative phenomena of eRemixing and oRemixing.

A contemporary remix

A brilliant example of this art form is the McLuhan Remix by Jamie O’Neil/Kurt Weibers, who distributes his authorship—which blurs with distributed editorship—between two personas as well as among the content-producers from whose work he has drawn. The 13-minute video is posted here with his explicit permission. For content and discussion, see the remix website.

The Medium is the Mix by Jamie O’Neil/Kurt Weibers

The Medium is the Mix by Jamie O’Neil/Kurt Weibers

Ancient remixing

For an explanation of how remixing principles were operative in the ancient world, with a comparison to contemporary examples, see Morgan Grey’s discussion of mashups.