Storyboard: Connie, Villa and Alicja

Our idea for the project is to create a kind of a tribute to Shanghai, to show in our video how we see it. Therefore, we want to film at many different sites, which we can plan out, but it is hard to predict what exactly we will be able to film. For the same reason we found it hard to come up with the time duration – some shots can be pretty short, while others might turn out longer, so we left it blank for now.

Here is our storyboard, sorry for the bad quality.

photo 2 photo 1 stboard

Sound Project

I am going to simply introduce the process of making our group’s sound piece. We spent some time on deciding what kind of sound we were going to create. The first idea was combine many sounds together, like whistle, keyboard and so on.

But we later thought that it would be quite similar with other group’s project, thereby without creation. So, we thought of the idea to create a audio book. The main body is of course reading the context itself. We chose an iconic part from Harry Potter and assigned everyone’s character. Through the Blue Yeti we finished the reading part by part. Thanks to every group members’ great performance!

Later the task was to add different sounds into the main body to make it sounds great. For example, we added the sound of banquet because the content is about the sorting ceremony. We got the resource from the free sound website. My favorite little part was the sound of cough added during the banquet. That made the sound more real! But this short sound was too low that it seems nobody heard the cough…A little bit upset…

Anyway, I enjoyed this course of making our own sound project because I have never tried editing sound before. Also, I hope that this will do us a favor when later we work on making a movie because we can add sound into it so that it will become more interesting.

Lily’s Reflection on this whole process

After sitting together and refining our “Secret party”, I feel that I have a lot to say. At first I really want to thank all the group member in our team. We all agree with recording a “secret party” at the very beginning, and then we stick on it to complete our work step by step. Everyone in our group has made the best of her talent, making this project dynamic and fabulous. We use 5 musical instruments and all of these sound effects are recorded by ourselves. It is really a huge work but we cooperate well. Then I want to thank Villa. She has a big passion in doing this project and she did a lot of work to refine it again and again. She found our guest guitar player to play for the major part in our project. She really contributed a lot to the whole work.

But I still want to point out some difficulties and problems that I met during this homework. At first I thought it is pretty cool and easy to remix, but when I firstly try to reduce the noise the typing sound, I felt that really hard to reduce the noise only and do not affect the typing sound. I tried different tools and then found out that Audacity works better. After trying it and retrying it again and again, I finally feel good about that piece. But difficulties still appear constantly. When we are doing for the “noise of party” part. I try to use piano to match the music of guitar. But because I am a bad song writer so that I couldn’t create a tune that fits our song well. I just did some sample playing on piano and tried to remix it on our lab class, then I met a lot of problems about the rhythm, noise and sound effect. I made it in the end but we did not include it because that is really imperfect. But I don’t think it is a waste of time because at least that makes me know the magic as well as difficulties of audio remixing.

Also, after presentation, we have a feeling that what we intended to express might not be understandable by others. Because we know the story behind this sound piece already, we might neglect some small details that would cause misunderstanding. For example, we did not realize the discontinuity between typing in the room and walking in the hallway. So I think when we finish working sounds, it’s better to hear from others critiques and find out something that is unclear in our projects. We cannot see it well but others can.

I think remixing is really an amazing thing. It reminds me of the time when we were in a real band trying to create a sound piece together. Using post production can make the exact great effect as real recording, or even better. I think we will use remix a lot during the coming projects. And I hope I can use it better and better.


Sound Revision – Bridget, Michelle, Francis and Alicja

We decided to do just a small revision to our project, suggested to us during the class. As our sound piece is composed of four different parts, it was confusing that there was no element to signal a transition from one part to another. We decided to use the bike bell, that we have already used as a unifying element in our piece, to separate the parts as well.

The Secret Party Fixed Version-Villa, Lily, Catherine& Connie

We adjusted our sound piece according to all the suggestions.

1. We reduced the length of the typing sound and made the piano sound go first.

2. We got rid of the first wooden gate sound

3. We adjusted the high heel sound. Now it sounds like a person walking from very close to far away. This enables listeners to keep standing in the position of the girl.

4. We lowered the volume of the secret voice and the laughter.

5. We lowered the volume of the electronic guitar since it is a bit noisy.

6. We added the cheers right after the music ends to show the existence of party people.

Response to The Ecstasy of Influence

When I was a little kid, when I was learning something, I was told that I always need to copy, to imitate before I start to create something original. I think this is the same when everybody learning a certain thing. So I feel very agreeable to the author that when he is writing his work, he is totally from others. We borrow others’ ideas, work on them, merge them and get to an idea that seems to be new and original.

However, I don’t think that every work should be considered plagiarism. In fact, in most cases in our life, people can tell which work is plagiarized from others’. In my view, when we want to make something original, even if it is inspired by other work, at least we have to show our interpretation and our perspective instead of just borrowing others’ and using them as our own. The same when we are making remixes. To a remix, what is important is not what the original tracks sound like, but how the new work is presenting. In fact, the word ‘original’ is saying that the spirit of a work is original, and it is not taking advantage of the works that it borrows.

Response to TED talk Embrace the Remix

Personally, I love to collect remixed songs. Remixes and other works of reproductions bring us a lot of fun. There are some voices that remixes should be banned because of the concerns on copyrights. I don’t quite agree. First, once something becomes widely spread and famous, it is almost impossible for people to not do any recreation on it. Remix is something like retelling a story. It is very common in our life but just in a way that we are not very familiar with. Second, we can’t deny that remix is another form of art and creation. The reproducers should have their free and right to do so as long as they are not against law.

However, if the remixes are totally out control, there will be less people willing to make original works. In my view, what makes remix controversial is the original author’s feeling. If the original author feels okay about the remixes, then there won’t be a big problem. But in real life, not all the original authors like the idea of remixes, especially when people are making fun of their work or making economic profits by their works. This sometimes really hurts their feelings and they feel like their works are stolen. The copyright law does not prevent this to happen. But the reproducers should at least ask for permissions and show their respects to the original works.

Max’s Response to the Sound Project

I really enjoy sound and music and production and the like and I have been wanting for a very long time to get more into programs like audacity and maybe ableton or others like them.  I thought this project was a lot of fun because it was a lot easier than I expected to get our ideas across.  And like Marianne said in class, it seems that with sound you really do get reward exactly proportional to the work you put into a project.  I wanted to create something like an audiobook/audioplay.  It was a lot of fun pulling it together, particularly having each of us with an assigned part.  If I had to do something differently maybe I would have had more inflection while reading my portions, and I think I would have tried to record more sounds as opposed to downloading them from online.  But I think my group learned a lot about sound and particularly about how to run garage band from this project.  I really enjoyed using the different types of microphones and recorders.

Sound Project by Shirley, Sherry, Kathy, and Renel

To be honest, this project has been the hardest project we have ever experienced, full of twists and turns. We’re so sorry that we didn’t finish the project so well, maybe one of the reasons for it is that our initial plan is so ideal.

Firstly, after discussion, our  plan is to show a girl’s process of learning music. Instead of using downloaded sounds, we plan to use sounds purely made by ourselves and create our unique sound piece. We chose the song Do Re Mi, and we separate our projects into different parts:

In the beginning, Renel sings Do Re Mi in a difficult and awkward way.

Then, Kathy starts to teach Renel how to sing the first lyrics.

Shirley comes in and joins us.

Shirley’s phone rings and Sherry join us with her new Erhu.

Then comes the last part of our project:

Four of us sing together with piano(by Renel and Kathy), erhu (Sherry), and cup songs(Kathy and Renel).

We used Blue Yeti and TASCAM DR-40 Field Recorder to record sounds materials on Friday afternoon’s lab. But since we had very different schedule, we didn’t have much time to meet together. On Saturday afternoon, Renel and I recorded the cup song and piano together in the dance room in Science building. But something terrible happened when we tried to mix them up later that we couldn’t find half of the original Audition tracks (because I made a mistake in saving the audition files… Sorry:( ).So we had to re-record the cup songs and pianos later.

We spent a lot of time recording our sounds materials, but the most difficult part is to combine piano, erhu, cup songs and chorus together. It’s really not so good when we put them together because different instruments have their own sound characteristics, our chorus tones are also hard to control. We used Garageband to standardize speeds, tones, and beats of the chorus and instruments. Shirley helped us to edit the sound tracks using Audacity, which helps a lot. but the mixture still sounds unnatural after Shirley, Sherry and I spent the whole Sunday night in the dorm editing those sound pieces.

All the sounds are our original works, but we are not quite satisfied with our final projects. And we hope that we can get some advice and make some improvements.

Sound – Bridget, Michelle, Francis and Alicja

Our sound project is composed of four separate parts, the first one created by Alicja, then the second one by Francis, the third one is Michelle’s and the last one is Bridget’s.


This work we want to use different sounds in our life. Then making out them into ripe which can be added into some music.

We went to different places to collect various sounds. These sounds were made by laser cutter, dustbin cover, hand dryer, water, birds, bicycle ring, printer, leaves, wind, scanner etc.

Each of us did a part because we all have different ideas with musics’ making. Then we combine our parts together according to the different styles since we want to make the whole music sounds natural.

I chose a soft song and delete the part which there is singer’s sound. The rest of the song is the beginning,end and the middle solo of the song. To make them can connect well, I adjusted the volume of each piece and add the sound we made to link two pieces. It’s not easy because the type of sounds are totally different, so I changed the effect of some sounds. Also, I considered which sound should be arranged first, or broadcast them at the same time. Finally, we did a cool combination.


I think we did a really good job. We recorded the sounds together, first we chose some sounds in the buildings, like writing on the whiteboard, typing on the computer..And then we went out and found sounds outside the room. I suddenly realized that there is a lot of sounds around us but we usually ignore them. The world of sounds is really amazing, so I learned that we need to pay attention to small things around us.

After we recorded the sounds, we selected want we wanted and chose a basic background music to edit. Everyone needs to edit about 30 seconds and when we finished it we are surprised that every piece of them are different style. So it really had a lot of fun that we combined 4 pieces of music together, and I think the same sounds we recored are like the key to connect those different pieces. Therefore, we finally got a whole work, and I love it!


IMA always gives me a new perspective of the world and this time it excited me again. I would never imagine the magic of searching and editing sound. The process was not easy though. I had to listen to several seconds’ sound repeatedly to make sure that was what I wanted so the whole piece took a few hours to finish. I also felt happy because I got sense of achievement and satisfaction after I got what I expected.

When I tried to combine the background music “Kiss the Rain” and the sounds collected by ourselves, I divided the piece I cut from the whole piano song into eight ellipses and tried to fit the sounds we collected to each ellipsis. It was not an easy process because I had to count the beat very carefully so that the mix seemed natural. Anyways, sound editing is really fun and exciting!


I have to admit I found working with sound more challenging than the previous assignments. I am used to working with the visual, I have taken drawing and visual arts classes in high school, but, even though I love listening to music, I have no experience in creating music.

When we started working on the project, we focused first on what we were going to record, not really how it sounds. We just took the microphone, and started recording sounds that surround us in our everyday lives – scanners, printers, footsteps, cars, birds, bikes, etc. Our idea was to create a piece of music using just these recordings. However, as we found out later, most of them did not go too well together, and so we needed something to make them sound more like music, less like a random collection of sounds. The solution we decided on was to use a piece of a song in our project.

That was interesting – the process of choosing a song and trying to modify it. I found it hard at first, I felt as if I was destroying a song I like, as if I was doing something that was not allowed. However, as I continued, the feeling passed and I enjoyed the process.

The project taught me a lot. I made a step on my way to understanding how music works. I also realized how differently we all hear things (before the project I thought music was more objective than the visual, that the hearing experience is more universal than the seeing, that the eyes are more likely to deceive us than the ears).

The Secret Party-Sound Piece by Villa, Lily, Catherine and Connie

In our sound piece, The Secret Party, we tried to tell a story using sound. Since there is no visual images, so the whole story can only be imagined. Therefore, we made great efforts trying to make the time flow as clear as possible.

The only character of our story is a girl. She was tired of writing her essay, so she decided to went outside and took a walk. And then she accidentally entered a room where a secret party was about to begin.

We set a principle for ourselves-trying our best to keep the sound pure. This means that almost 95% of the sounds that appeared were created and recorded by ourselves. The beat of the music consists of a water bottle (with water in it), our dear professor’s office table (it is terrific) and Catherine’s hands. Also all the musical instruments that appeared were played by us or our friend invited by us. The recording experience is so interesting and amazing because it makes us feel like being in a small talent show.

The best part of the whole process is that we learned hoe to switch among different softwares. The basic ideas of those softwares are almost the same, so once we are capable of handling Audacity, we are also capable of Garage Band. Garage Band has a vital weakness. It can not change the speed of the sound piece. So we used Audacity to deal with this problem and then imported the edited sound to Garage Band.

Finally, great thanks to our friend Shawn (Sun Xiaoyang), who volunteered to help us with playing both wooden guitar and electronic guitar.

Typing Keyboard: Catherine& Connie

The Electronic Piano (Background Music of Typing): Lily

The Girl’s Voice& Dragging The Chair: Catherine

Secret Voice 1: Villa

Beat (Using Cup, Desk& Hands): Catherine

Wooden Guitar: Shawn (Guest Starring)

Sand Hammer: Shawn& Villa

Electronic Guitar: Shawn

Harmonica: Villa

Secret Voice 2: Villa

High-heel walking, The Phantom of the Opera, Wooden Gate’s Sound: Internet

Laughter: Cut From Ke$ha’s “Blow”

Max, Guillermo, Mental and ZZ’s Sound Project — Harry Potter and Sorting Hat


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


ZZ—Hermione+Random Whispering People


Guillermo—Sorting Hat+Harry Potter—Random Gasping+Whispering+Cheering+Magic Sound

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++SPECIAL THANKS TO++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Blue Yeti

TASCAM DR-40 Field Recorder


Sound Piece Project – Nicole, Susie, Richard and Kevin

Well this was quite interesting. It took us a long time to figure out what we wanted to do. We went from singing songs in Chinese and English, rapping, mash ups of songs, making our own little song and entertained plenty of other thoughts. We even went about trying to do a few of those each class period before scrapping it by the next class. It wasn’t until last lab session when we finally decided that we wanted to use the field recorders and mix sound that we record with another song. And thus our project was born. The song “Oh Yeah” by Yello would be the main theme of our piece. From how odd the sound of the song was, we realized “Hey! This sounds like it would fit with bathroom noises. We all know that Richard loves the bathroom!”

So we then went about using the field recorder to record some sounds from the bathroom. We created a little story based off true stories…bits and pieces mashed together. The first part with us talking was very real; suffered through that each class period. Then Richard feels his stomach is upsetting him so he’ll run to the bathroom to relieve himself. There the song settles in to serve as an auditory symbol of Richard’s feelings in the bathroom. Yes we know it’s weird. But it makes us laugh.
Besides the obvious problems of deciding what we wanted to do, we had to work around putting the recorder at different lengths away from the thing that we were using to record. An example of this problem would be the part where Richard was running. Following his footsteps created static from the running so we learned that keeping the recorder stationary would alleviate this problem.

Max’s Response to Ecstasy of Influence

This essay brings to mind for me many of the same ideas that the Ted Talk made me think of, but also a fair number of new ones .  But one part that made me think a lot was when Lethem was talking about the J.D. Salinger tribute film that was closed off due to a copyright issue.  It really made me think because if the purpose of copying or drawing from someone else’s work is tribute, then logically it seems to me that there is no reason why that shouldn’t be allowed.  But then that brings to mind the problem of how that would really be measured or enforced.  How do you measure intent?  I’m not sure there is really an answer to that question, and yet, to me the answer still lies in a relative relaxation of certain aspects of copyright laws with a view towards crediting sources.  It should be easier to credit someone!  And people shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant amounts to do so (or maybe even when they don’t).

But perhaps the change shouldn’t only take place within the legal sphere.  Maybe a societal shift is in order as well.  Perhaps one reason why people don’t want to credit their sources is because a “remix” or a “second edit” or a “sampling” doesn’t sound as appealing as an original composition.  If we looked more favorably upon using other people’s works (albeit with the proper crediting) then maybe people would be less inclined to draw from other people’s art without mentioning the original author.

This essay brought a lot of new ideas to mind for me and I liked it because it brought me to challenge my own assumptions.  I’m certainly not as hardline copyright as I was before reading it.

Max’s Response to Embrace the Remix

Embrace the Remix was a very interesting piece that brings up some valid arguments about the way we view ‘intellectual property’.  I think one of the most important arguments that was made was that the intent of copyright laws in the US is to promote innovation, but that at this point these laws are only making it harder to invent.  I agree that inspiration does not come entirely from within, however I think that in some cases it is dangerous to say that you can just steal someone else’s idea because ‘that’s what great artists do…” .  When someone comes up with an idea, it really is their idea, and if it gets stolen, I think that is stealing just as much as if you steal a tangible piece of someone’s property.  That being said, the analogy can be continued to say that if you see a tangible piece of someone else’s property that you really like and then make a duplicate of your own that is nearly identical, that might be seen as being totally acceptable.  I would compare this to simply giving credit where credit is due.  Perhaps copyright laws need only be shifted so that it is easier to give credit to someone else’s creation.  It is important in my view that people should be able to work off the successes of others, but if you know your invention is just going to be stolen as soon as you release it why would you want to release it?  I think that there needs to be a happy medium between control and freedom when it comes to intellectual property but we are definitely nowhere near medium that right now.

Nicole, Max and ZZ’s Comics—Angryflappybird



Working on the comic was different than the photoshop manipulation project we’d done prior. Having the comics was in a way more difficult than dealing with real photos since there was a whole new aspect of artistry and creativity. There was more focus on creating a smooth story, then creating a realistic image. Working on the comic was also more difficult as a group project since everybody in the group had to know how the story was supposed to go and we had to work cohesively.


The photoshop project was challenging for me seeing as it was my first time with the program. Getting feedback was helpful. In the process I learned that a big part of photoshop is just playing with the software until you can figure out how to get the finished product. I hope that I can continue to work with it until I can be a lot better with the software.


I think it is really important to keep the style of dialogue box the same, which will not distract the collective idea of the whole comics. The reason why we chose angry birds is that it is easy to keep the style, here it is a virtual character. We also considered Chinese Monkey Kind, but it is hard to deal with real characters. I think the combination here is important. If you can keep the style the same, readers will feel weird.

Guille’s 4th week reflexions The ecstasy of influence

This reading goes hand by hand with the ted talk about embracing the remix. i found it very interesting because once again a debate upon media rights is created. In my opinion i support the main idea of art being free for all to use if it wasn’t like that than a lot of artist we love today wouldn’t even exist. Take Andy Warhol for example he could be critiqued because of his pop art reproductions but he just took something that was part of pop culture and remixed it into art ! this process in itself for me can already be considered as it’s own art.

Guille’s 4th week reflexions Embrace the remix

Embrace the remix is on of the coolest ted talks i’ve seen. I am totally in agreement with ferguson’s point of view that everything is a remix we as human beings create upon ideas of other’s. Newton’s most famous quote was “if i have seen further it is because i have stood on the shoulders of giants” this means that he could have never done or discovered what he did if it wasn’t for remixing in a certain way past studies.

Alicja’s Response: Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk: Embrace the Remix

Kirby Ferguson in his 9-minute talk addresses the issue of originality in arts and “useful arts,” which extends the topic from the traditional areas of music, painting and literature to include also modern technologies.

What Ferguson makes clear in his speech is that it is never possible for a person to be totally original. We do not live in a vacuum – and that is exactly why we can never be sure that any of the sentences we write, any of the words we speak are not borrowed from someone else. That everything we produce is not a replay or a remix of something we have heard or read somewhere before.

Actually, to create something new we have to have foundations. How can you compose a song if you have never heard one? How can you write a novel without having read one before? What about designing a smartphone without having ever used one? We need experience to create; that is clear. However, once we acquire it, we can never free ourselves from the works that made us experienced. They are going to remain in us, and our work, as our reference frame – and that is a great influence. Hence, no art is created independently of others. Rather than that, art is constantly being created in a process, in which new works are constantly built on top of already existing ones.

It is clear then that to demand others not to be inspired and influenced by your work is not only unfair (because the inspiration we got from others is what brought the work in existence in the first place), but also irrational. What follows is that the rights protecting creative works should be much different from property rights. Artworks are non-rivalrous. Listening a song is nothing like eating an apple. I can not consume a song, I can only “taste” it, and that limitations applies to other people too. The fact that I heard a song does not mean that nobody else can hear it. By taking advantage of the wealth of art, we are not restraining other people’s access to it – therefore it is not a property and should not be treated as that.

If that is the case, then the artists will have more freedom. And freedom and inspiration are crucial parts of the creative process. For our society to advance, to keep on creating, we should not restrain them.

Alicja’s Response: Jonathan Lethem’s “The Ecstacy of Influence: A Plagiarism“

Jonathan Lethem’s article “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism” introduced me for the first time to the notion that not only is art not a physical property, but that what makes an object art is its gift value. It is an interesting concept – to claim that art has to transform its receiver in any way to perform its function. The idea, however, rings true to me.

The books I love are not just paper and ink. I have read many works that had no photos, just a simple font and where halfway on its way to total decomposition. Very simple editions, printed when my parents were young – during communism, they went through a lot. Their money value is close to nothing now, I do not even think they could be used as a recycling material. However, their art value, instead of decreasing with each reader, increases – if we assume, as the author of “The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism” does, that what matters for art value is how the ideas and emotions the book offers transform the receiver. Yet, when my parents paid for the book, when I buy a new book, its price in a big part is based on the physical – the ink and paper, not its art value. The emotions, the transformation it makes in us are a gift. They are not guaranteed for every reader, therefore if they occur they are a value added to the physical object, value that makes it art.

So, what follows is that if art is a gift, then it is a very democratic gift – or strives to be. Anybody, regardless of age, material status, origin should be equally likely to receive it. It is also a highly personal gift – one that you spend hours on, but if it does not resonate with the receiver then there is not much you can do. Also, if art is like a gift in that it changes people, it means that we can not get away from the art we have “tasted” or “experienced” before. How then is it possible to create something uniquely ours? It is not.

Jonathan Lethem best shows it in his own essay. He uses other authors’ works as examples (and he is very open about it) and in this way his piece supports his own words – that it is impossible to free oneself of others’ influence, so it is far better to embrace it. Even though it might be hard for us to admit that we were influenced by something, we should do it. Even though it might be even harder to let go off the control of our own works and let others appropriate it, this is the best thing we can do for the society – make art not a private property but a common good.

Response to Ecstasy of Influence

Since we were little kids, we were taught not to plagiarize. After I read this article, I was amazed by the description of  Lethem when he wrote his own work, what he wrote were totally from others’ work. In addition, musicians, artists also plagiarize others’ work. We may wonder, what can be called “plagiarize”?

         In our opinion, plagiarize is regard others’ work as yours without telling others. Of course, other people have their rights to keep their works’ copyright. But if we only use ideas, it becomes more difficult for us to judge whether you plagiarize or not.

         In that TED Talk, it seems that the speaker try to convey: remix is reasonable. Whether can we relate remix and plagiarize together? Both of them need to use other’s work. This reminds me of my writing workshop. Professor emphasizes the importance to avoid plagiarize since it is related to academic integrity. When we use others’ words, we must use quotation marks. If we use others’ ideas, we need to tell our readers where are they from. Nearly everyone can do that easily, but we may meet a problem. If we have read many many books, some of them have rooted in your mind, we cannot realize we are using other’s ideas when we do our own work. In this situation, we don’t plagiarize. But the result is the same with use other’s ideas directly. If we don’t learn other’s thoughts, how can we form our own thoughts? It seems becomes a contradiction.

         Some people may say: “Why not legislating more concrete laws to explain what is real plagiarize. ” Now the answer is obvious, the thing itself is contradictory. In terms of copyright, there still need a long time to clarify though it is very hard. Everyone don’t want others directly use their works without telling them.

         We cannot solve this problem, but we are supposed to be kind to other’s work and respect those authors.

How to Draw the Border between Plagiarism And Creation-Respend to Ecstasy of Influence:A Plagiarism

After reading Jonathan Lethem’s Ecstasy of Influence:A Plagiarism, a question occurred to me and also it has been confusing me for quite a long time. That is, how to draw the border between plagiarism and creation.

Plagiarism has always been an emphasised topic started from the day I first entered college. And I still remembered, after the lecture about plagiarism, many students asked whether changing some words of a sentence but still expressing the same idea counts as a plagiarism. And also, whether summarising other’s ideas with our own words counts as a plagiarism.

Though I remembered clearly that the lecturer managed to answer all those questions, I still personally believe that it is very hard to draw a strict line between plagiarism and creation. Especially when I finished Kirby Ferguson’s Ted Talk “Embrace the Remix”, I had a deeper understanding about the fact that all creations are lied on certain grounds. The fact that people are social animals and we interact with each other determines that creativity is eventually generated by other people. In addition, sometimes people don’t mean to copy other’s ideas. They tend to forget where those ideas come from and when they are to creating something those ideas may be the first ones to pop in their mind. Thus, they take those ideas as their own because they think they create those ideas themselves, but actually they don’t. And in this article, the author kind of encourage the way of creation based on other people’s work. 

Lethem expresses his idea that we should consider plagiarism from a different aspect and should be more flexible about plagiarism and copyright. And I personally agree with his idea. The first thing is that the difference between plagiarism is unclear. Every one has a different definition of plagiarism, so things happen that one people thinks that it is fine to use other’s work while the other claims that he has been offended. The second thong is that because of the blurring border, we can’t really ban plagiarism. It, to some extent, happens every day, every second. 

I believe that people shouldn’t be too hard on the copyright issue. Nobody actually can claim that he owns something. Every master pieces belongs mankind as a whole because it is generated under the influence of interaction with other people.

Response to Embrace the Remix


         This TED Talk is so interesting that let us understand what is remix. As the speaker said that remix contains three techniques which are copy, transform and combine. During J-Term, we took innovation and creativity class. From that I know innovation is not equal to invention. We only need to look for some cliches and disrupt them, then we can find many opportunities to do some change on it. Actually, the process is very similar to remix while both of them do some change based on the former things. “It’s a better way to conceive creativity.” Sometimes, this way can accelerate the speed of creating new works for audience, in addition, based on those materials, authors have more time to pay attention to hand with details in order to make works better.

        A funny thing is that Steve Jobs’ change. Many years ago, when he used others’ technology, he just said: “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” However, when his technology was copied by others, he was angry, extremely went against those companies. When we are in different positions, we will have different opinions. It’s hard to say whether remix is right or wrong, what we learn is “Everything is a remix” and nobody can prevent an excellent things spreading from many ways and shared by everyone.

         Maybe, since we have the Internet, we are supposed to share our good ideas with everyone. It’s a great challenge for us because when we remix something, we need to respect and protect others’ works at some degree. Or more laws should be set to explain more

Plagiarism Inevitable? – Response to The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism

I think I can identify with Nabokov.

I took Computational Media in last semester. My midterm project was a hat with an accelerometer on top of it; the user can tilt his/her head left or right to control the computer (I used a racing game in my demo).

After I finished my project out of curiosity I did a youtube search which turned out this:

which is basically the same thing as mine:

For the final project I made a interactive urinal system. But another google search turned out this:

US6385796 – Self flushing urinal with integrated gaming and reward system

There are 6 billion people in this world – not including those great minds who have passed away – which means that if you have a good idea, chances are someone else in another corner of the world may have the exactly same idea as yours. Originality per-se never existed, and is never going to exist. Every innovation humans ever made is based on previous progresses made by others.

Humans also have a tendency to repeat some creative patterns when they try to come up with new things – that’s why we often get that deja vu feel when we walk out of the cinema, thinking we just saw a new movie – in fact it may just be the zillionth reincarnation of the same story.  “It’s the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die…”

“Great minds think alike”. There is no *original* idea. If we define plagiarism in its strictest sense, then even the most respected artists in history would turn out to be a shameless plagiarist. We must recognize the fact the work being alike is inevitable – what differs a creative rendition of an idea, or a “remix” from outright “plagiarism” is whether the process of copying (I am using the word “copy” in a neutral sense here) involves improvements to the original rendition of the same idea.

We Are Dependent-Respond to “Embrace the Remix”

When I heard the sentence, “Everything is a remix”, coming out of Kirby Ferguson’s mouth, I was shocked. His talk seemed pretty absurd to me at the beginning since I am always a big fan and defender of original ideas and creativity. However, when the talk went on I couldn’t help stopping for a hundred times and taking notes of his words, for never before had I viewed creativity from his brand new perspective.

Ferguson said, “Creations can only take root and grow once their grounds have been prepared”. And it is indeed the truth. Our thoughts are attached to the lives just as a spider web is attached to the wall. Any slightly change happens in our lives will cause a change in our judgments, ideas or even our values. Life plays an important role especially in terms of art. From paintings to songs, they are art pieces made to express a mood, or in other words, the artist’s feelings when they were creating these pieces. Therefore, the creation of art is on the basis of the artists’ lives. However, apart from artists’ own feelings and experience, other artists’ work are inevitably mixed in their lives since it is also a part of their lives to study art pieces created by other artists. Then, when artists are going to create something of their own, the work of other artists’ may suddenly pop into their minds as a part of their lives and they may forget about the origin of those ideas, thus considering and developing other artists’ ideas as theirs.  This is the so-called “Remix”, which in Ferguson’s definition, consists of three parts-copy, transform and combine. Though it may seem offend the rights of the artists who generate those idea first, it is really hard to conclude that who owns something, since the claimed original owner actually was inspired by other artists’ ideas as well. We can never know. After all, as Ferguson said, “Creativity comes from without not from within. We are not self-made we are dependent on one another”.

Response to Embrace the Remix

After watching the TED talk and the full film of Everything Is a Remix, I have to agree that all great inventions are made on top of “the shoulders of the giants”. Apple could not be a company as successful as it is now if it did not “remix” GUI, which is originally an invention from Xerox, a much larger company than Apple at that time.

However, I think what differs “remix” from outright “plagiarism” is whether the process of copying (I am using the word “copy” in a neutral sense here) involves improvements to the original rendition of the same idea. Xerox Star, the very first commercial GUI workstation that inspired Apple to do their own Lisa and Macintosh lines of computers, was actually very awkward to use. In light of this, Apple redesigned several elements of its own rendition of GUI to make it more user-friendly. Should Apple decided to do a pixel-perfect copy of Xerox’s system, they would definitely not become the Apple as it is today.

The prominent issue with “remixing” in our society nowadays is the existence of “patent trolls”, companies and individuals who make profit by using the patents they own to sue companies they see have been using their patents, whereas most of those “patents” are actually de-facto public domain technologies that most companies are utilizing. Earlier examples of patent trolls include the SCO – Linux controversy, where SCO claims that the Linux kernel infringes several of its patents of UNIX. More recent examples include phone companies and software companies suing competitors using their portfolio of patents.

Patent trolling should be considered as exploitations of Copyright Laws and Intellectual Property Laws worldwide. The original intention of establishing such laws are to encourage innovation and creativity; however, the lawmakers failed to recognize the fact that every innovation is based on previous efforts in the same field made by other people, which has led to phenomenon such as patent trolls and sample trolls. How to, therefore, protect the original innovators while allowing and encouraging new innovations to be made out of the existing ones, is *the* question of intellectual property protection of our age.


Response to Embrace the Remix

“Good artist copy, great artist steal.” That is an interesting  point of view and of course it makes sense. Similar saying can also be found in Chinese that “熟读唐诗三百首,不会写来也会偷” which means as long as you keep many poems in mind, you can “steal” even though you can not write poems. Both of the sentences put emphasis on the world “steal”.

However, does the “steal” here really mean that we can copy works of others without regardless of plagiarism? From my point view, we should redefine this word in this context. It is unassailable  that we cannot copy ideas and works of other artists in any circumstance otherwise we would violate the law of intellectual properties. This “steal” is actually much more than “steal” itself. In other words, we can say it means “steal wisely”. When we spot a good idea from others and we really want to use it, why not polish this idea and express it in our own way? It is even better if we are able to add new things to it and develop it according to our personal style.

The concept of “remix” originated by Kirby Ferguson, creator of Everything is a Remix actually corresponds to my thoughts. To remix is one of the way to polish and create because during the process of re mixing we have to apply our ideas into our works.

Catherine~! Response to The Ecstasy of Influence & Embrace the Remix

Response to The Ecstasy of Influence & Embrace the Remix

I was surprised by The Ecstasy of Influence  which makes plagiarism a creative thing instead of a boring copy. To be specific, the author Jonathan Lethem carefully selects and fixes sentences from different writers and then combines them into a complete and understandable article.  It is weird that I am not offended by this kind of plagiarism. Moreover, I even feel it amazing and creative to do such kind of remix. It makes me think of the relationship between creativity and plagiarism. Can they be the same thing? Of course plagiarism cannot equal creativity because plagiarism is always something we hate and want to avoid while creativity is encouraged by everyone. Students who copy others work will undoubtedly be punished; Singers who are found plagiarized others songs will soon lose fans. However, why this time, plagiarism in this reading is welcome and more like an art that full of creativity?

When I felt confused about this question, TED talk Embrace the Remix appeared to answer my confusion by saying that remix, which includes copy,transform and combine, is a better way to conceive creativity. In other word, if we cleverly or technically remix information that inspired by others rather than easily copy, it becomes creativity instead of plagiarism. Just as what the speaker of TED said, “We are not self-made. We are dependent.” Every creation and invention do not appear out of air. We all absorb something from others so when we create, we reflect something influenced by others but we just don’t realize it. Thus we learn that remix is creativity while directly copy is plagiarism.

I can think of many remix in our life. Music is remix as talked in TED. Combination of rubber on the pencil is a good remix, which is even a patent. Smart phone is a highly remix thing of phone, playboy and camera, sometimes even a computer if it has internet. Photoshop is a popular tool to remix photos… Finally, I come to realize that almost everything is remix. Almost everything can trace back to some easier things. That’s really awesome. Since we learn this, everyone can be a creator.

Response to “The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism”

This article is really awesome itself and I have to say I was shocked when he listed those pieces  in Lethem essay he cut from the work of others. Moreover, I like it because it instills me a lot of ideas that I’ve never heard of before like how to draw a demarcation line between creation and plagiarism. I would never imagine that a man called Heinz von Lichberg actually published his own “Lolita” in 1916, forty years before Nabokov’s Lolita came to world. Many hypotheses are made to explain this but this issue is still problematic and it’s difficult to draw a conclusion. 

Similar things happen everywhere and everyday. I happened to talk about this issue with my writing instructor today. In one of my recent essay, I paraphrased a sentence from a website. She thought that my sentence still remained words in a row of the original one so I had to rewrite it. I argued that this several words in a row were so commonly grouped together that everyone could come up with  this arrangement. But she said “No” and I rewrote this sentence reluctantly.

The line between creation and plagiarism is rather fuzzy. From my personal perspective, we need to and we have to absorb knowledge and ideas from our predecessors to  shape our minds and they are definitely willing to share their ideas. But, what predecessors expect, I think, is that we express the ideas in our own way and develop them based on our knowledge and unique experiences. In this way, we can go further in our field and truly create something unprecedented.

Hope this video below would help you avoid unnecessary trouble when writing。 :)

Response to The Ecstasy of Influence

In the Ecstasy of Influence, Jonathan Lethem made many good points analyzing how artists, authors, musicians, and even modern day animators heavily borrow and plagiarize from past generations of work. I agree that creativity needs inspiration from older generations and it is impossible to create something that doesn’t borrow from the past. Even technology requires an open source because inventors are always building on and improving the older technology in the past. Innovation and creativity should be fostered and restrictive copyright laws don’t help that. Instead, it forces artists to deny the natural process of creativity and innovation. They either become afraid to admit it, or they risk being sued. Even when it isn’t used to improve the product, artists should realize that it is a symbol of adoration and success; people wouldn’t make copies of failed pieces. I really admire how Lethem took the time and effort to show how his article borrowed from other sources too.

But I also disagree with Jonathan Lethem. I don’t think copyright laws always have to be about promoting creativity. Artists put a lot of effort into society and they deserve to be compensated. Rewarding artists for their hard work isn’t that bad of an idea. I think it provides a good incentive for them to keep working and not move to other fields. Even if you don’t believe that artists require money to motivate them to create more pieces of artwork, I think it is only fair to pay them a correct amount.

However this doesn’t mean I agree with US copyright laws. They are too strict when they last even after the authors death. That only benefits the company and help them create a “usemonopoly” like Lethem said. I think we should draw a line between copyright and “usemonopoly”. Authors should have a right to their creations, but their companies don’t have the right to make a “usemonopoly” at the expense of the society.

ZZ’s response to “The Ecstasy of Influence”

I was really shocked when I reached to “KEY: I IS ANOTHER” part of “THE ECSTASY OF INFLUENCE” by Jonathan Lethem. I was shocked again when I read “KEY TO THE KEY” of it. I really like the way Jonathan Lethem portrays “plagiarism” in this article. He vividly shows us what plagiarism is and how hard plagiarism can be found. I think this article is actually showing what Kirby Ferguson says in his TED talk video—he copies, he transform and he combines. But good thing is that he shows us where he “plagiarizes” those sentences, which are sources. I think indicating sources this action is actually showing the sense of copyright and respect others’ brainwork. When I was in high school, teachers did not really care about plagiarism. When I was quoting what others said, I only needed to write down their names. Even it was a Chinese paper, the plagiarism has not been really put emphasize on. But when I came here, our writing workshop instructor spent several weeks to teach us how to cite from others’ ideas. So I think if you can indicate the sources, then “plagiarism” can be good—helping you develop your ideas with the help of others’ opinions. Do like this—“copy, transform and combine” (Kirby Ferguson,!).

Susie’s Reflection on “Embrace the Remix”

Remix is an interesting thing that adds new energy to the old stuff. But it becomes difficult to define whether it copies others’ works.

Nowadays, more and more people will very much like to change the lyrics or the rhythm of the existing song and post their work online. And many people enjoy these songs with different styles. Actually, many of our inventions also come from the intelligence of the ancient. What we do is improving.

In China, there is a word which is really popular, which is “shan zhai(cheap copy)”. These are the stuff which have a really similar appearance with invention of the popular companies, but they use worse complements and are much cheaper. They sometimes also have the same title to confuse the customers. For example, I saw a mobile phone called “Nckia”, which really look the same with “Nokia” if you do not concentrate on it. Although someone thinks the existence of “shan zhai” is good because their prices are low that everyone can afford it and they can make people feel that they are using luxurious electronic devices, I think it’s a bad thing that it annoy the society.

Nevertheless, I think the remix is good. I do not believe it is a kind of copy, but I think it is actually recreation. It combines different materials together and creates something new, which maybe makes the old things more attractive.

Susie’s Reflection on “The Ecstasy of Influence”

Still about copyright.

It is very hard to define whether a thing is copied from another or not. So it is really important that the artist to protect themselves. Create something that others cannot steal may be a good thing. Nowadays, people are getting a better education and the society is developing, people have a better taste on art works and people are much better at finding the good, real art works. Just copy others’ work will be obvious. If one can copy something that no one realizes, it is no longer a copy, but a recreation.

This reminds me of one experience. I am a fan of Japanese comics. And my favourite one is “Vampire Knight”. Once I went to the library and got a book. I forgot the accurate name of the book, but I still remember the content of the book is really similar to “Vampire Knight”. Although the main characters become dolls instead of vampires, the settings and backgrounds, or even the stories are totally the same. I felt uncomfortable with these.

In my opinion, using the experience of others’ works is okay, but own thoughts and something new must be inserted. Otherwise, no one will accept it.

Kathy’s Reflection on The Ecstasy of Influence

I’ve seen both movie and book of Lolita, and it’s really a masterpiece that arouses me to think deeply. However, if I hadn’t read The Ecstasy of Influence, I would never have realized that this amazing work actually was not original. I felt quite surprised when I knew that. We didn’t know whether Nabokov did it consciously or subconsciously. But he did copy the original idea, can his work still be called masterpiece? This is probably a big question the author want us to think about.

We live in the time of information, although there are countless institution and groups working on information, but the speed of information growing seems to be much faster than the speed people handle them. There’s no such a system that can analyse information all over the world, so there is no possibility for us to set up the complete copyright system. My professors in GPS workshop emphasize a lot on plagiarism. But actually avoiding plagiarism is not so simple as quoting and work citing. My GPS workshop professor last semester once gave a great metaphor. She said that our mind is initially like a white and clean sponge, but we meet different flows of information and ideas from the outside world so much everyday, so it’s really very hard to avoid our mind from being dyed by colorful outside thoughts. And once you soak up them, you are not able to get rid of them and come back to the pure white, pure yourself again.  Like the TED talk we’ve seen, everything is a matrix, we can’t and also can’t afford to prohibit it.

We can see from the article that the writer implies that we should be more flexible on the copyright or plagiarism issue. I totally agree that. I believe the setting of copyright and recreations don’t need to be treated oppositely. The author gives us a good example. Though implying the flexibility and freedom of copyright , he still fully lists the work cites in the last two paragraph. I think its’ a obligation to respect other people’s own idea and not steal them without citing. But I believe things like recreation should be encouraged. As long as the idea naturally flows out of your mind and you cautiously treat them, ideas developed can benefit a lot to the society.

ZZ’s response to Embrace the Remix

Kirby Ferguson, in this TED talk video, is mainly promoting a way to create, which is to copy, transform and combine by the examples of Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs. De facto, this TED talk reminds me some facts about the situation of creation in China. We all know that the policies on copyright in China are not intense, which means anyone can easily download a Blu-ray movie or an album without make any payment and you will not be arrested by doing this, thus some piratic books, CDs and DVDs can be seen anywhere. I deeply think that this is not good for the development of some culture industry. And this might be the main reason why pop music in Mainland China is generally not good. And it actually is really strange that we are not supervising or protecting copyright very well but the creation industry is still not developed in China. For example, many parts of Apple products are made in China, while all the Apple products are designed in California. What all the Chinese factories and workers have earned from those Apple products is far less than Apple Company who invents those products. Since we do not have a very intense supervision on copyright, the creation industry should be developed well by the form of creation—copy, transform and combine.


While back to the video, I think what Kirby Ferguson said in the video is really rational. In Chinese, we have another definition of creation. Creation in Chinese is “创造”(chuangzao). “创”means to destroy and “造”means to produce.  So the first step of creation is to destroy, which can be interpreted as to copy the original prototype and then to destroy it and get rid of all the meaningless part of it. Then what you need to do is edit, revise and combine it with other things. Although these two ways seemingly are slightly different, but the cores of them are the same I think, which is copy and do some revision to it either by combining it with others or adding your new ideas.

Reflection to “The Ecstasy of Influence” And “Embrace the Remix”

  1. I was absolutely shocked when I finished Lethem’s piece. I was super confused reading through everything until the end when he admitted that he just straight up took everything in his essay from the work of others. That in itself was insanely creative and it creates his own uniquely original piece of his own. It seems as Lethem is blatantly challenging society’s hypocritical ways of crying out whenever someone takes from another person’s work without credit. It is considered a crime to do that, but it also brings to question other academic works, such as writing a paper. If one is to take quotes from another source (that in it’s own way, may be the analysis of another person), is that stealing too? Brings up a lot of ideas about what belongs to who and whether anyone can really own any idea. Copyright laws are so confusing.
  2. I really really digged Ferguson’s piece. It just fits so well together and I like what he is saying. While he does not quite explicitly say that no one’s ideas are truly original, he kind of implies that. Yet at the same time it does not condemn anyone from trying to make something on their own. I really took to heart what he was trying to get across about being able to make something new out of someone else’s thoughts. Because we have to draw our inspiration from somewhere. It doesn’t conjure out of nowhere. As long as someone puts their own twist to it and makes it something unique to themselves, then they can call it a piece of work compiled by themselves. I really appreciate the title of his piece “Embrace the Remix” because I am an avid fan of remixed music. Almost all of my music that I get these days have to be remixed versions. Sometimes there are remixes of remixes. I really like how people can get the opportunity to put their own spin on someone else’s art. It doesn’t mean that someone is stealing your work or trying to undermine the initial piece, but rather I think it shows great appreciation and respect to the initial piece by thinking of it highly enough to try to make a remix that improves the quality (not mocks).
    These two pieces were really cool and I feel like fit well with how I view such topics. Especially with music. I think the entire scene and my own experiences have evolved with the remix game!

Kathy’s Reflection on the TED Talk Video

Kirby Ferguson follows the time order and chooses many typical cases to imply his idea that everything is a remix, and I found his argument very persuasive.

From melody to lyrics, from the application of technology to our daily life, remix is everywhere. By consciously or unconsciously copying, combining, and transforming, now we can’t easily claim that this or that is a brand new idea or invention. It’s really inevitable and it reminds me of a famous saying from the great scientist, Newton. He says that “I just stand on the shoulders of giants”. Without inspirations and knowledge from the people before us, we can by no means make any new developments and progress since things can’t be created from nothing. So it’s really a controversy that who owns the copyright, or do we still need the concept of copyright?

The example of Steve Job is very impressive. In 1996, Steve Jobs publicly said that” Picasso says that ‘good artists copy, great artists steals.’ We’ve been always shameless about stealing great ideas.” However, in 2010, he said that “I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen project. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this”. Such a ironic contrast implies that copyrights actually relate a lot to commercial benefits. Many people have the idea that copyrights can improve or promote people’s creativity, but it seems to benefit companies more. Instead, like what Steve Jobs said in 1996, great things often need inspiration from great ideas by others. Everything is a remix, and everyone is involved in it nowadays in modern society.

So I think all we can do now is to embrace the remix. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t need copyright laws. It can still strongly protect our rights to some extents.

Reflection on “Embrace the Remix”

In Embrace the Remix, Kirby Ferguson points out that “Everything is a remix”. It is true, for in real world, people’s actions affect each other and there will always be the intersection among ideas.

The most impressive period to me in the talk is that Ferguson shows Steve Jobs’ different attitudes to “stealing”: Jobs once said in 1996 that “good arts copy, great arts steal”, while 16 years later, he accused the product of his rival of being “stolen”. These two claims seem to be conflict, but it’s notable that Jobs uses different terms in these claims: “art” and “product”. It is encouraging to “embrace the remix” when brewing an idea of art, nevertheless, owning the idea and make it into a product is another matter.

I like what Ferguson said at the end: “not expect too much from ourselves and to simply begin”, this idea is so comforting and essential that without it, we may not come up with new ideas. Yet when stepping outside of personal perspective, there’s still a lot things to consider.

Lily’s Reflection on Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence

When I was reading this text, I continuously got shocked by the author’s ideas. These ideas appears so profound and require further thinking.

The author shows a explicit attitude towards influence and copyright. He asserts that as long as all the direct publishment or direct reuse is labeled with the original artists, all the other reproduction is encouraged. Lethem gave us a bunch of ideas that are associated with the ecstasy of influence, which are all persuasive and fabulous. For me, I just want to point out something that really strikes me.

He firstly gave us a view of what is influence in our daily life. People might not notice this kind of influence because it happens in one’s subconsciousness. When one is going to create something new, maybe he can make sure that he will not copy directly from others’ ideas, but he cannot avoid himself from thinking in a way which is following others’ tracks. So he might discover a piece of brilliant music from the bottom of his heart, satisfied by his own creativity, but end up finding the similar existing piece of music.

People’s memory is a great magic. It can blur the information that we have received from the outside, letting it stay in the corner of your memory. When it suddenly emerge someday, you will definitely consider it as your own original work. I really like Lethem’s words that “Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never rienced.” I totally believe that this is the most exciting thing about creation. Of course that we need to find our own voice when doing creative work, but finding one’s own word is not simply purifying oneself of the materials but an wise adoption and transformation of existing works without artificial tracks.

I always believe that, as long as one follow his own voice and let the creation flow out of his head, the products is on his own. Creation of art is inevitably influenced by other objects. For instance, the existing artworks, the beautiful nature. But that is not a bad thing, that makes our world more colorful and beautiful. Van Gogh was greatly influenced by Miller, Gabriel Garcia Marquez was greatly influenced by Ernest hemingway. We can say that, without the magic of influence, we are not able to see the real flourishment of painting, literature and art.

However, when we are surprised by how common the influence happens on us, we encounter the potential danger of plagiarism. Could an unconscious reuse of others ideas be defined as plagiarism? There is never a lack of arguments around this question. Western society are getting used to attach strict bound to copyright, setting lots of regulations related. However, if we put so much emphasis on that, the final victim should be the our community as a whole. The restriction on the second use of ideas, actually hinder the communication between artists. Without ideas freely flowing, inspirations and sparks will also diminish. I think Jonathan Lethem shows a quite kind explanation on his ideas of copyrights. He thinks that someone makes the second use of your ideas only when they think that your ideas are valuable. The commercial income by owning copyright should only be considered as an encouragement for artists to produce more ideas. Indeed, the pure art has nothing to do with money. It is a way to make the world larger.

In fact, if we loosen the control of copyrights, we can witness the big flourishment in every area. Of course, we are not indulging pirates or plagiarism, but holding a big dream that everyone can give all to the society, creating a room to share the true value of art.

By the way, I don’t quite understand the part “Surrounded by signs”. I cannot get the author’s main idea from that part. Maybe I will go back to reread it and expect for the discussion on class.

Reflection on “The Ecstasy of Influence”

Avoiding plagiarism has always been mentioned by our professors. Whenever writing an academic essay or doing a research, we are told to be careful when quoting someone’s idea. Before reading this article, I thought that as long as I cite and quote according to Rules for Writers, I am able to avoid plagiarism. However, In “The Ecstasy of Influence”, Jonathan Lethem shows that it is not so easy in a larger field of art. Lethem puts forward the possibility of “cryptomnesia”, (59) which happens to musicians, writers, painters and photographers from time to time. I think it’s exactly true. When I’m humming a tune, working out a poem, composing a paint or taking a new photo, I must be more or less influenced by some former masters. Though in most cases, I cannot put a name to that work, the memory exists there. Maybe it’s a distant memory from childhood, or it might be a glance of a work in the street corner. It is a common case when someone comes up with an existed idea unconsciously.

The problem is that even if I can tell what inspired me of my work, how can I know in a particular case, whether I’m plagiarizing or creating? To get a clear definition of plagiarism I go to Wikipedia:

Plagiarism is the “wrongful appropriation” and “purloining and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work. The idea remains problematic with unclear definitions and unclear rules.

I still have no idea of what should be defined as plagiarism. What does “wrongful” mean? What does “language” refer to? Maybe I need to find other sources or laws to understand plagiarism better, yet what’s clear is that the idea of plagiarism is still ambiguous.


The text mainly talks about the topic again on usemonopoly and plagiarism of ideas or gifts like such things.

Frankly speaking, so many examples raised by the author Jonathon Lethem confused and puzzled me a lot. I conclude them as examples to clarify his outlook that it is not a bad thing for the  existence of getting other predecessors’ ideas and gifts. All these examples from all kinds of  published art or products shows that it is always inevitable that a single work will contain former  factors. As a matter of fact, literature, music, photography and many other fields are all without  exception.

From my point of view, I actually appreciate moderate behaviour of “borrowing” as long as it  does not copy other works completely.

Again I wanna quote Issac Newton’s words: “If you say I see farther more than other people,  that is because I stand on the shoulder of the giant”. We should always keep it at mind to accept  similar works. Without borrowing predecessor’s things, it will never be possible to achieve the  height that human have reached now, no matter whether on art or science. All kinds of knowledge needs accumulation. After all there are not many talented people on the world that can create  great things. What’s more, it turns out to be that sometimes works that are copied, transformed  and combined transcend what it used to be.

Lily’s Reflection on Embrace the Remix

In this short video, Kirby Ferguson gave us an insight into what he believes is the most important way of producing art: Remix. He asserts that everything is the product of remix. Most of nowadays’ works are done by going through three procedures: copying, transforming and combining, using the existing materials.

At first I feel quite surprise about his abrupt conclusion that everything is made by remix. Because in my opinion, remix is related to the inflexible mixing of different ideas and thoughts, without considering the context and coordination. I have no idea why he would consider this activity as the only way of producing goods. As the TED show goes on, I understand that his definition of “remix” is not what we usually believes. His “remix” is more similar to the idea of “reproduction”. He tries to show us the fact that all the creative works are not 100 percent creative. They are produced by applying ordinary tools of thoughts to existing materials.

I think it is true that because we are not the first one to write or draw, we are all inevitably influenced by existing masterpieces. Actually, we acquire the specific skills by copying others works to learn the foundation of knowledge. We are all standing on the shoulders of giants to see the world. When we have a sense of creation, the first natural step is to do some transform to others works. This is the most efficient way of creation. Then, we can combine our new ideas together and make a breakthrough. But no matter how creative it is, it also derives from the understanding of existing works. If one carefully examine this breakthrough, there is no doubt that he will find pieces that have some relation with old works.

But what does it mean? Can we just define all the masterpieces as the remix of art? How can we make a distinction between plagiarism and so-called “remix”? Kirby Ferguson pointed out that everyone feels ok for copying as long as they are the one that copying. Steve Jobs once said that “Good artist copy, great artist steals.” But when considering Android’s similarity on Apple, he shew totally different ideas on copying.

For me, I think all these arguments depend on how you define “remix”. If you enlarge the scale, you can consider a piece of music, which a musician heard himself from the natural world, as a kind of remix. If you limit the scale, you can also consider Bob dylan’s variation of others’ music as an act of plagiarism. Nobody can create a great work by only combining others’ opinion, just like nobody can create something without foundation.

Response to Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk

After watching Kirby Ferguson’s TED Talk, I agree with him. Creativity is based on copying and remixing the material from other people. Copyright laws shouldn’t hurt artists or inventors who want to create new material. In fact, they should be encouraged to be innovative. Still, I think there is a good balance so people can still be protected for their work. In high school, I learned about Chinese copyright laws. In many cases it is up to 20 years of copyright protection before it is opened to the public. I believe that this is a good limit because 20 years is a long time for an artist or an inventor to make enough money from their creations. After 20 years, other people should be able to improve upon their work.

But after watching the Copyright Video, I understand that America’s copyright laws are too strict. There is no point in having copyright protection for someone who is dead. They can’t benefit from their creations anymore so society should have control over it, not the company. That type of copyright law only cares about profits. It also doesn’t make any logical sense for copyright to extend to dead people. Dead people can’t collect fees, take advantage of money, or give permission to use their work.

As Ferguson stated, “creation can only take root and grow once that ground has been prepared”. No matter how great an individual can be, they needed to depend on the work of the people before him. Even if it is an invention, or a piece of art, or a song, all of these people did not start from scratch. They saved a lot of time, money, and effort by depending on what everyone did before them. That is why having too many copyright laws can become dangerous. It makes us forget how important it is for artists and inventors to take from the past in order to create the future. 

Guille’s 3rd week reflexions

This book helped me understand and view comics from a complete new point of view. i feel we do underestimate the power and presence of comics in our lives as the author repeats quite a few times during the first chapter. there are so many elements to comics that we don’t even realize exist like the closures or times. its an expression of art that is very complex and ingenious but is looked down upon because if the “childish” style comics have but it just a stereotypical concept we have in our minds comics are really a lot broader than I ever knew before reading this book. i have learned how to appreciate comics much better now and see them more as an art than anything else.

Messy mind–response to The ecstasy of influence

To tell you the truth, after reading The ecstasy of influence, my head became a mess. The author shows me a new understanding of plagiarism and intellectual property right, which is very different from my old point of view a few weeks ago.

Let’s first talk about the problem of plagiarism. It is not difficult to imagine that today, with various art forms and culture expressions, the definition of plagiarism has expanded to a huge scale. The behavior of plagiarism is no longer limited to copying and paraphrasing, but also includes transformation and recreation upon the original piece. For example, some people may consider animation as a kind of plagiarism because it transforms the original medium of the story to a new one. The section of “Key: I is another” that the author includes in the last part of his passage just tells us how easy it is to “be charged of plagiarism”. If we look at all the lines he stole, wrapped and cobbled, we will find that a large part of the passage is not original, but transformed and combined. If this were to be called plagiarism, then plagiarism is happening much more often than one can ever imagine. And what’s more important is that we need this kind of “plagiarism” which not only brings us something traditional, but also inspires us with something up-to-date. However, we have to dig deeper to find out the problem behind this. When the definition of a term has become so broad that everything may be included in it, maybe it’s time for us to think seriously of this definition and try to narrow it down.

Another issue that upsets my mind is the intellectual property right law. Before reading this passage, I regarded this law as something really creative and righteous. However, after learning about the fact that companies “who view art and culture as a market where everything of value should be owned by someone or other” are making use of this law to gain profit, I started to re-evaluate the pros and cons of this law. The original purpose of intellectual property right is to “promote the progress of science and useful arts”, while it has now becomes “monsters” for artists because every creation they have made is subject to copyright protection and they are undergoing the risk of being sued by other artists all the time. This is a great barrier against creativity and the development of art and culture. And this may be the largest price of the intellectual property right law.

Everything is a remix

After watching the full film of Everything is a Remix produced by Kirby Ferguson, I begin to look deeper into the issue of remix for the first time. The word remix basically means recreation, which includes the process of copying, transformation and combination. Through the talk, the speaker is trying to tell us that nowadays, the boundary between the original and the unoriginal is becoming more and more blurry. Therefore, he expands the definition of creativity from creating new and original things, which most people have in mind, to transforming original facts and combining them with existing materials.

What the speaker said resonates with our experiences very much. With more and more forms of media coming out, hundreds of work pieces can be created from one original material. A book can be adapted to a theatre play, a musical, a film, an animation, or even a song. And sometimes, it is just so difficult to create an original piece since so much work has been done before you! It’s just like writing an academic essay. When you need to conceive a thesis, it is very likely that you will have a similar thesis with some people who have already written it before you, whether accidentally or intentionally. Therefore, the point is to develop something new from the old, and this process is absolutely another kind of creativity. People may condemn Apple for “stealing” the idea of tool bar from Xerox, but the way Apple sells its products and the design of its whole concept is its own creativity. And it is this remix that makes Apple one of the most successful companies in the world. No one can deny this fact.

However, when making transformation or creating variance, it is also very necessary for us to pay our respect to the people who have already done something before us. Think about the story of the Molotov Man. The painter was sued because he didn’t give the photo credit to the original photographer. That’s why we need copyright and intellectual property right as something that protects the original author when other people are remixing with his work.

Remix sometimes also shows the trend of the society. I remember several years ago, a kind of story where people from ancient dynasties come to today was really popular. And there were numerous movies, TV dramas, and books about this kind of stories everywhere. With hundreds of similar recreation and adaption around, the common trend of people’s taste was reflected and shown.

The Ecstasy of Influence Reaction

In our ongoing exploration into the topic of creative ownership, author Jonathon Lethem brings up the notion that celebrated works are essentially unoriginal. He uses several historical examples, such as Lolita, to show that great works often have very similar predecessors that elicit a far more muted response, some which have even faded into the realm of obscure oblivion.


Musicians have often borrowed tunes and melodies from cultural works. Modern instances simply have the technological capacity to duplicate a sound more accurately, so the question turns to become: ‘how similar or dissimilar must something be to be considered original?’ and also ‘what is time’s role in the discussion?’

Many find it perfectly acceptable to incorporate tribal hymns into modern renditions. Some even find it endearing. Yet mixing in some modern beats can cause an avalanche of legal trouble. And if everything can be rooted back to a pre-existing medium, then who can claim to be heir?

Photography is also integrated into the equation with Lethem asking “[is] the photographer stealing from the person or building whose photography he shot, pirating something or private and certifiable value?” This brings in a concept of inter-connectivity between the arts as well. Is an award winning photograph of a building creditable to the photographer, or the architect? Is acclaimed Humans of New York photographer Brandon Stanton a parasite living off his subject’s stories?

There are no easy answers to any of these questions, but Lethem summarizes the entire situation best by his declaration that copyright is an ongoing social negotiation. Artists must have some sort of protection to encourage production, but within reasonable limits or other artists will be unable to progress.