the best of qualities is dispassion

Response to Chapter 2: “Music remix in the classroom” and Chapter 3: “DIY podcasting in education”

With this topic, I’m certainly feeling my age as well as revealing my tastes in music and limited knowledge of pop culture. I’m afraid the remix culture, at least as it exists today, has left me in the dust.  Although I do watch many videos, and since the genre that I most enjoy is documentary, I encountered the documentary RiP!: A Remix Manifesto at some point in my documentary binge-watching.

[FILM] RIP! A Remix Manifesto [480p – best available] from JJ Holst on Vimeo.

Mashups were completely new to me and I was fascinated by the way they are produced. I later reflected on this documentary whenever I heard HipHop or dance mixes. The complex legalities of the art escapes me, although I do lean heavily toward openness and sharing when it comes to artistic expression and the internet. Throughout these readings, I felt the authors struggled with the issue while trying to offer a fair and balanced opinion. Shamburg (2010) wrote the following on podcasting and copyright:

Many potential podcasters are stymied by a fear of unintentionally violating copyright law. Copyright and fair use laws are ambiguous, and media industries—especially in the U.S.—have reacted to the relative ease of creating and sharing digital copies of media in often highly restrictive and punitive ways that can have a chilling effect on amateur new media creators. (p. 56)

As a personal example, I recently produced a short audio podcast for another course where I became confused about copyrights. I was careful to select background music that was copyright and royalty free, music where the producer invited its use and distribution with attribution, and yet, since I decided to read some poems, two of which were copyrighted, I was hesitant to use them. I was uneasy reading them for the recording, although, in the end, I included my readings of their poems. Did I infringe? Was it legal? I’m still not sure and the issue did cause me some concern, especially since I respect the poets and don’t wish to infringe upon their rights. Although I might argue, as many seem to, that using their creations was a sign of my respect for their work.

I believe that a culture that is becoming increasingly motivated by money will in the end hinder free speech, artistic expression, and overall creativity. As I understand it copyrights were originally issued for fourteen years and some now span the artist’s lifetime plus ninety-five years.  This ever expanding copyright protection does not appear to be about protecting the intellectual property of artists, but instead protecting the profits of corporations.

In these readings, I learned about the educational benefits of music remix and how becoming skillful with the technology required to produce mashups and podcasts are required 21st-century skills. The chapters were quite informative when it comes to describing the technologies involved in remixing and serve as a good primer on the subject. Jacobson (2010) introduced me to mixing audio clips using Audacity, which I should be using, as it’s is a free open source digital audio editor (p. 34).

It seems appropriate that if one sides with the free and open internet, as I do, they should use “open source” applications whenever possible. And yet, I already sold out to closed source (proprietary) tools last year when I switched back to a Mac from Ubuntu Linux that I had been using for some years. The production of multimedia for the CU Denver Information Learning Technology MA program drove my capitulation. My idealism was surrendered to my need to “conveniently” produce multimedia “without tinkering” with the tools. Convenience drives many into the arms of the internet giants and also to surrender our privacy to these large corporations. Yes, good open source tools are available, but often require a substantial investment of one’s time to research which are best and then to install and configure them on open source platforms.

I have been a longtime consumer of podcasts as they offer such a wide variety of content. My first exposures to podcasts was through iTunes, which hosted ZenCasts. I subscribed to ZenCasts years ago and still listen to them when time permits. The fact that one can subscribe and receive automatic downloads is one of the great features of podcasts and one that I truly value. I appreciated the many resources, including communities and affinity spaces, that were described in these chapters and am certain to use many of them as I begin to produce more content for learning.

Gaylor, B. (2008). RIP : A Remix Manifesto. Retrieved September 21, 2016, from

Jacobson, E. (2010). Music remix in the classroom. In Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (eds.) DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies (27-49). New York: Peter Lang.

Shamburg, C. (2010). DIY podcasting in education. In Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (eds.) DIY Media: Creating, Sharing, and Learning with New Technologies (51-75). New York: Peter Lang.

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