#18 – Manovich / Remix documents

Just before fall break, I submitted my thesis proposal for an essay in the spring that I’d like to focus on remix culture, primarily, among other things.  So I’ve given a fair bit of thought to the topics we’re running through in our course material right now, but even though a lot of it is rehashing stuff I’ve already run into in one place or another, I still find it endlessly compelling and get sucked in very easily.  For one, it’s good to keep those ideas stewing around in my head as I’m starting to do research, but that’s not all there is to it.  Having read Remix, I was familiar with most of the ground Lessig covered in his “Wireside Chat”, but I still was rivited throughout (in no small part because his style is so compelling and digestible — how great it would be to make a thesis as smart, snappy, and passionate as that!).

Good old Henry Jenkins’ article was fine for a brief read.  Also, I hadn’t thought about the idea presented in the youtube video — that “remix” can extend to the very way we now structure our social interactions.  (As far as reading the comments, were we supposed to just notice how negative all of them were?  But the hatred found in youtube comment sections is as dense as neutron stars, so that wasn’t too surprising.)  I definitely got the most, though, out of the chapter from Manovich’s book.  I think I’ve read the chapter previous to it, about the Graphical User Interface, in the past, but I thought this chapter was brilliant (despite having an absurd number of typos).  It’s hard to write about techonology now in a way that doesn’t quickly become outdated, but his writing is grounded enough in deeper theory that this, clearly written nearly ten years ago, is still relevant.  He writes about the more abstract, cultural stuff — his section about how post-industrial life presents us with a series of “menus” is AMAZING — and then ties it in with some really crunchy technical stuff.  I found myself trying to discern his position about whether this state of things (in which art, identities, and culture are constructed from “pre-assembled parts”) is positive or negative — I’d have to say he seems more pessimistic than euphoric.  But overly rapturous, idealistic paeans to digital culture are usually a bit grating, so I appreciated Manovich’s moderate voice here.  I think I’ll definitely have to investigate this book a little more, because nothing else I’ve encountered so excellently shows the way our techonologies shape the way we create, and even the way we think.