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The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

Author:Kevin Kelly
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Published: 2016-05-09T17:03:28+00:00


8

REMIXING

Paul Romer, an economist at New York University who specializes in the theory of economic growth, says real sustainable economic growth does not stem from new resources but from existing resources that are rearranged to make them more valuable. Growth comes from remixing. Brian Arthur, an economist at the Santa Fe Institute who specializes in the dynamics of technological growth, says that all new technologies derive from a combination of existing technologies. Modern technologies are combinations of earlier primitive technologies that have been rearranged and remixed. Since one can combine hundreds of simpler technologies with hundreds of thousands of more complex technologies, there is an unlimited number of possible new technologies—but they are all remixes. What is true for economic and technological growth is also true for digital growth. We are in a period of productive remixing. Innovators recombine simple earlier media genres with later complex genres to produce an unlimited number of new media genres. The more new genres, the more possible newer ones can be remixed from them. The rate of possible combinations grows exponentially, expanding the culture and the economy.

We live in a golden age of new mediums. In the last several decades hundreds of media genres have been born, remixed out of old genres. Former mediums such as a newspaper article, or a 30-minute TV sitcom, or a 4-minute pop song still persist and enjoy immense popularity. But digital technology unbundles those forms into their elements so they can be recombined in new ways. Recent newborn forms include a web list article (a listicle) or a 140-character tweet storm. Some of these recombined forms are now so robust that they serve as a new genre. These new genres themselves will be remixed, unbundled, and recombined into hundreds of other new genres in the coming decades. Some are already mainstream—they encompass at least a million creators, and hundreds of millions in their audience.

For instance, behind every bestselling book are legions of fans who write their own sequels using their favorite author’s characters in slightly altered worlds. These extremely imaginative extended narratives are called fan fiction, or fanfic. They are unofficial—without the original authors’ cooperation or approval—and may mix elements from more than one book or author. Their chief audience is other avid fans. One fanfic archive lists 1.5 million fan-created works to date.

Extremely short snips (six seconds or less) of video quickly recorded on a phone can easily be shared and reshared with an app called Vine. Six seconds is enough for a joke or a disaster to spread virally. These brief recorded snips may be highly edited for maximum effect. Compilations of a sequence of six-second vines are a popular viewing mode. In 2013, 12 million Vine clips were posted to Twitter every day, and in 2015 viewers racked up 1.5 billion daily loops. There are stars on Vine with a million followers. But there is another kind of video that is even shorter. An animated gif is a seemingly still graphic that loops through its small motion again and again and again.



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