One of the pleasures of putting together the Value of UGC paper for Ofcom earlier this year is the number of people who have been in touch through the blog with comments and queries. Nice to have an audience!
One thing emerged from a reader’s query recently that I thought deserved an airing here. Why were we down on the importance of mashups, which have been so widely cited everywhere as a great example of the kinds of creativity enabled by the advent of digital? Specifically, we said: “‘The mash-up is arguably an over-stated case, and probably more beloved by the digital media commentariat than by the general population.’”
Which, in the cold light of day, does look harsh! But here’s my response, which I hope clarifies the position:
… our contention isn’t so much based on evidence as on lack of evidence for the opposite view. That is to say, that while the digerati like to talk about mash-up culture at some length, I see little beyond anecdotal evidence that the mash-up is anything more than a minority activity within the overall community of practice.
That’s not to say that I don’t think it’s important, and indeed at times thrilling. I’m a huge fan of collage-based art from the Dadaists, through Fluxus to John Zorn, Plunderphonics and Negativland. And yes, the occasional Internet meme (it dates me but my favourite remains the whole “Shreds” series pioneered by StSanders). It’s just that I think the mashup’s case has been somewhat overstated, because it makes for good copy and is easy for people to get their head round.
I hope that clarifies our position, but if anyone’s got any further thoughts on the matter, or just wants to get into an argument, please, get in touch!
And just to underline how much I personally do love collage-y stuff, I’ll leave you with this, courtesy of Got-Djent, just this morning. Not exactly a mashup, but not exactly a cover either, it’s Brazilian guitarist Michel Oliveira’s technical metal take on Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. No, I’m not sure what its legal status is, but it rocks.