Technology, Remix, Preservation

Annie Hoch-South
DTC 375 Fall 2018

“People who live in information societies not only encounter and ‘use’ information and communication technologies; rather, increasingly, their modes of action are enframed by these technologies. They are not so much tools as environments” (Holmes 2). In saying this, Holmes suggests that technology is becoming our environment -- our world. The impact that communication technologies have today looks toward the future whilst maintaining the now.

To focus my research, I used three main guiding questions:


What is Technology?

For research purposes, I focused Technology to mean more specifically, "media communication technology."

Media communication technology began as something completely auditory, without a spoken language, but rather, a system for interpreting sounds and giving them a meaning.

Advancements began in the audio media communication field with the telegraph, moving to the telephone, and radio.

After audio came visual media communication with the television.

We are now in the age of the Internet, where there is complete emersion of audio, video, and text in a digital realm called "Cyberspace." (Winston)

What is Remix?

Remix is "...any reworking of already existing cultural work(s)" (Manovich What Comes After Remix? 2).

Remix is a creative and personal expression through the repurposing of existing original media. One of the reasons for its popularity is because of the low cost associated with not having to produce original material to remix.

Once only done through audio mixers, remix can now apply to coding software (like open APIs), videos and images (like Photoshopped images), and literature (like fanfiction).

(Celiotis and Yew; Manovich What Comes After Remix?)

Make Your Own Remix!


What is Preservation?

For my research, I wanted to look at Preservation of digital works aided by Technology, or rather, how Preservation can be impacted by Technology.

There are some differences between preservation of a digital art and preservation of tradition physical art.

Digital art can vary from screen to screen, but this is not a fault of digital art. It is an "...inherent property of the medium and the work" (Rinehart 3).

Preservation of a digital work must have documentation of all behaviors associated with the work, a guide to recreate the media, convey the purpose meant by the original artist, and be standardized (Rinehart).

Just like physical artwork, digital media art is meant to be shared and enjoyed for many future generations. Preservation methods would instill that.

How do Technology, Remix, and Preservation work together?

Technology in terms of digital media is a big part of Remix and Preservation of digital media. Without the advancements made in computer technology, remix and digital preservation would not be a thing. To remix technology ranges from the digitally convered WAV files for sounds and using remix programs to modifications in HTML code to change styles or contribute to an open source plugin or API. To preserve technology or remixed art would mean to use technology, itself, to code and document the entire work, source, and purpose.


How does Language, Text, and Technology influence Technology, Remix, and Preservation?

Today, Technology uses the Language of the Internet. This ranges from sound (speech, music, ambient) language to visual (image, video) language. Technology uses Text in the form of web code (HTML and CSS), word blogs, ebooks, and more. Remix can change the Language of code, message of a video, and the definition of remix has changed as our digital culture has developed. Remix uses Technology to interact in the digital interface to make remix possible. Preservation can use the Language of careful documentation of code to recreate with complete authenticity the purpose of any digital media, including digital Text, using Technology to make it possible.

What are some opposing arguments?

Argument against Technology: Degeneration of relationships and communication language?

Some opposing arguments raised against the development of a communication technology hold concerns over the degeneration of relationships, rather than enablement. Some arguments they state refer to brief exchanges over SMS and character limits on other textual exchanges leading to the “...degeneration of spoken conversation and written language” (Baym 72). Rather than meeting face-to-face, society opts for convenience and prefers to engage over a digital interface medium. Degeneration of language could be associated with a degeneration in relationships or quality of life. However, even taking into account all of this, evidence suggests that the benefits of a digital culture outweigh the old methods of communication. Because of technology, long distance and instant communication is possible, which enables creative collaboration and opens more opportunities for the advancement of society and relationships.

phone computer

Argument against Remix: What about copyright?

Some opposition against the remix community are copyright laws. Harper states, “...some advocating creativity and free expression, and some defending the limited rights of copyright holders. Proponents of the Free Culture movement stress the idea that borrowing from predecessors to create new works is not a novel practice, but rather a tradition and form of expression worth protecting. Nonetheless, other scholars harp on the importance of enforcing the rights of copyright holders in order to protect the incentive to create” (Harper 8). However, Harper looks at it from a legal standpoint as well. According to Harper, in order for a mashup or remix artist to be liable for infringement, the artist must not violate rights exclusive to the original artist. Using completely reproduced and unaltered images or sound from an original work would constitute copyright infringement. Receiving royalties for a remix using copywritten material would be an obvious infringement. Using copywritten material in a remix for an educational purpose, however, would not infringe due to fair use which protects educational institutions. Some small copying of work may fall under de minimis, which means that the courts would not be concerned over a small and trivial copying. Remix can be done right, so long as the right intentions and circumstances are met. Additionally, royalty free options, like Creative Commons, exist to support free creativity without the risk of a lawsuit.

creative commons logo

Argument against Preservation: Restoration does more harm than good?

In the traditional art community, arguments exist against preservation of art. Generally, this concern is held over whether or not restoration attempts will do more harm than good. However, digital media art is not traditional art. Physical environmental factors will not have an impact on digital art, because it does not exist in a physical space. Therefore, any preservation methods like the one described and proposed by Rinehart, will have to take into account the different formulas that make up an authentic digital media. One difference stated by Rinehart was rather than the preservation of one piece of art, digital media looks at the authentic reproduction of the same data with accurate consistency. Preservation of digital media is not a bad thing, it is just different and should be treated differently, but with the same amount of care.

hammer QR code


In summary, Technology has evolved and changed to suit the needs of a modern world that encompasses sound, language, text, images, video, code, and digital networks. Remix is defined by a community built on creative freedom. Preservation of digital media requires different methods than traditional preservation and looks at a way that can document and recreate with consistent authenticity the original media. Opposing arguments to Technology, Remix, and Preservation are struck down on the bases of long distant and instant communication, avoiding circumstances that could lead to infringement, and the fact that digital media art is different than traditional physical art. Overall. Technology, Remix, and Preservation work together to bring digital artifacts to life on a global, accessible, creative, and withstanding for generations to enjoy, expand upon, and learn from.