Digital Rhetoric/Remediation and Remix

Introducing Remediation and Remix


With technology continuously changing, there are new and different methods of media developing all around us. Every day, a new method is created and tested by millions without them even knowing about it. Imagine listening to your radio and you hear the all-time popular song Thriller by Michael Jackson. However, it has been changed by adding extra catchy up-beat tunes in the background. It's not what you remember originally, but the new remix is aesthetically pleasing.

What is this new technology? Is it okay to change the original form to something new? Does it change the meaning of the work? Who should be given credit: the original author or the new editor? Within this short discussion, we will define remediation and remix and its association with digital rhetoric. Remediation and remixing allows society to change and improve existing formats of different text. These changes are created using new tools available through advancements in technology. With these tools, such as Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, it is easier than ever to create your own interpretation of an already existing text.

What is Remediation and Remix?


Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin offer a theory of mediation for our digital age that challenges this assumption. They argue that new visual media achieve their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning such earlier media as perspective painting, photography, film, and television. They call this process of refashioning "remediation," and they note that earlier media have also refashioned one another: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production and photography, and television remediated film, vaudeville, and radio.

Remediation is the remediation of other *things*. It gives the viewer the option of seeing the current version and previous versions of the work, while creating a new version. Furthermore, the second remediation will depend on the first mediation, and so on. Of course, when referring back to previous versions, it is helpful to know the author and other helpful source information (include hyperlink to AUTHOR section). The goal of remediation is to refashion or rehabilitate other media. Furthermore, all mediations are both real and mediations of the real, remediation can also be understood as a process of reforming reality as well.

Remixing is similar to remediation, as it is the alternate version of the original. We often think of remixing when referring to music. However, remixing can be seen in all types of formats, such as graphics, visuals, speech, and audio. The success in a remix is changing the original version into something new or different. One form of remixing other than music is remixing literature. William Burroughs used the technique of remixing language in the 1960s in what he called "Cut-Ups"—various textual sources (including his own) would literally be cut into pieces with scissors, rearranged on a page, and pasted to form new sentences, new ideas, new stories, and new ways of thinking about words. Other examples of remixing literature are seen in Pixel Juice (2000) by Jeff Noon who later explained using different methods for this process with Cobralingus (2001). Nigel Tomm's self-published remixes of Shakespeare's work are Shakespeare's Sonnets Remixed (2006), Shakespeare's Hamlet Remixed (2006), Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet Remixed (2007).

The History of Remediation and Remix


In the early 1990s, a greater extent than at any time since the 1930s, Hollywood produced numerous filmed versions of classic novels. Some of the adaptations are quite free and are historically accurate and faithful to the original novels. Yet the Austen films do not contain any overt reference to the novels on which they are based: they do not acknowledge that they are adaptations. Acknowledging the novel in the film would disrupt the continuity and the illusion of immediacy that Austen's readers expect, for they want to view the film in the same seamless way in which they read the novels. The content has been borrowed, but the medium has not been appropriated. This kind of borrowing, extremely common in our culture today, is also very old. An example with a long pedigree would be paintings illustrating stories from the Bible or from other literary sources, where apparently only the story content is borrowed. The contemporary entertainment industry calls such borrowing "repurposing": to take a "property" from one medium and re-use it in another. With reuse comes a necessary redefinition, but there may be no conscious interplay between media. The interplay happens, if at all, only for the reader or viewer who happens to know both versions and can compare them.

Formats of Remediation and Remix


As literacy progressed, certain elements were added and incorporated, certain styles were adapted. Globalization has brought the world closer. Within a matter of seconds, someone in United States can instantly find out the breaking news in Iraq or someone in Korea could have watched President Obama's Inauguration speech live - all thanks to the internet. The internet has revolutionized the world in many ways. Advancements in technology have allowed people to be instantly connected to others that are across the world. Through blogging, people are now able to share opinions, discuss unique ideas in a wide range of topics, and broaden their horizons. In addition, anyone can choose to participate in a discussion or start a blog about their ideas and opinions. Once, it was thought that a person must be artistic to create something new. Nowadays, anyone can remix by adding or removing graphics, visuals, speech, audio, and others, and make a creative piece of their own. Many of these formats are witnessed and placed using websites such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.

Digital texts have an edge over classical rhetoric because with the help of certain other elements such as videos, graphics, sound, the argument in hand could be significantly persuasive. However, with classical rhetoric, other than the vernacular grammar, the way the speech is delivered, the argument in hand could be persuasive, but not attractive in front of digital texts. The issue of accessibility and usability are also important factors of digital texts.

Examples of Remediation and Remix


This section will provide examples of Remediation and Remix through its different forms using technologies including websites, video clips, photographs, and print.


Educational Purposes

An example of a "remixing" is the Catalhoyk website. This website certainly has many characteristics of digital rhetoric as the website uses the technologies of today to teach people about archaeological research in Central Turkey. It provides new and exciting learning methods that allow individuals to learn the material in a way that makes sense to them. It encourages visitors to share, download, remix, and republish the materials and resources provided through the website. The idea of experiencing culture of Catalhoyuk through visual images in the form of pictures and 3D visualization is just fascinating. The main website has many hypertexts that lead the user to a different realm. Each picture on the website has its own unique story – a story of either the people residing in Catalhoyuk today, people that once upon a time did live in the city, the efforts of archaeologists who are trying to discover and study the rich history of Catalhoyuk. On certain pages, there are short videos varying from describing the project the archaeologists are working on or goals they hope to discover from this project. The creators of the website even encourage users to upload a remix video of their own and add on to their “remix” project.

The website states that all of the provided resources are covered under Creative Commons NonCommercial Attribution 3.0 Licensing of Lawrence Lessig. The constraints that have surrounded us today, for instance, all the regulations placed on us or rules that we have to abide by, in the end, just succeed in limiting our creativity. Some of the oldest corporations have recycled past ideas and presented them in a unique manner. So, why is it that now we have to deal with copyrights and other endless rights, and in the end, sometimes unintentionally, faced with charges for breaking the law? Lessig mentions an interesting personal scenario where when recording a movie, he had to use a four point five seconds clip of “The Simpsons” playing in the background. When he contacted the owner, Lessig discovered that in order to use that small clip in his film, he would have to pay $10,000 to the company. This new licensing allows individuals to reuse the materials for noncommerial purposes as long as he or she accredits the author. Where the laws and regulations are limiting our creativity, Creative Commons is encouraging creativity by allowing people to broaden their horizons and expand. One of their many creative ideas include the changing of rights from “All Rights Reserved” to “Some Rights Reserved” copyright. This allows giving credit to the author of the idea, and allows other users to be inspired from that idea. It is definitely a manifestation of digital rhetoric, because there is creativity being assigned and utilizing rhetoric in a different medium. It is opening new doors for a whole generation of users.

Learn more about this new form of education: Remixing Catalhoyk

Another website, Stories and Songs: Dreamers and the Land, there are clearly many characteristics of digital rhetoric. For instance, the idea of putting up pictures of each member of the team and the importance of the project to them, a virtual tour, and a slide show incorporated within the website. The circle element that was incorporated on the Dreamers section is important because by scrolling around the circle, we, as users are able to browse through several authors. Within each circle, there are more circles present, and each represents a different theme. Users can watch videos and listen to the people recite poetry. The virtual tour appears realistic because of the 360-degree view of the landscapes native people encounter daily. The interactive map takes the users to the stories and songs of a particular region. Users can browse through the website and learn about a different culture, traditions, people, all in the comfort of their own home. The fact that the website is interactive may entice younger audiences, while at the same time providing education and entertainment.

Learn more about this new form of education: Stories and Songs: Dreamers and the Land

These websites are examples of how technology can help and improve education, through its meaning and teachings. It also demonstrates the concept of ethnography now transcending from the traditional manner and jumping on to the digital bandwagon. Both these websites described cultures and at the same time incorporated digital rhetoric elements.

Professional and Entertainment Purposes

Second Life is becoming a popular new website where individuals can "remix" or create and change their virtual worlds. It has similar qualities as the Sims, where you create your own avatar and control its activities. Recently, multinational companies across the globe are taking advantage of this virtual world and creating their own virtual workplace, where users can communicate from at home or on travel without needing to go to the office.

Learn more about this new and exciting virtual world: Introduction to Second Life


Still Photographs

Altering a photograph by a professional photograph is a thing of the past. Photographs can easily be "remixed" FREE by anyone today with the easy access and assistance of Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. The altering of the original picture can be as simple as removing a scar with an eraser tool to the extreme of adding a foreign object, like the example shown below.

Flowering Mouth

Animated Photographs

Another extremity is adding other technologies, changing the meaning and delivery of the photograph entirely. A person can add text, video, color, music and create an entirely new deliverable using the technologies we have available today. Slideshows will never be the same again. The video provided below is a prime example of how someone can remix a photograph.

Mondo Grosso - Everything Needs Love

With remixing and remediation becoming more popular, there are websites that enable anyone to create their own remix. Animoto puts an end to the typical slideshow, and creates a remix of with music, text, and highlights of favorite images. This video was created to enhance pieces with a portfolio for a designer.

Remixing Portfolio

Video Clips

Video clips are the most common format used with remediation and remixing. YouTube is the ultimate search engine for any remix imaginable. Here are a few examples establishing an original video with the remixed video right below. Take a look at these before and after clips and see if you can pick up on the extreme differences.

Stephen Colbert and Lawrence Lessig Interview Original The Stephen Colbert and Lawrence Lessig Interview Remix

Another example is a video of a scene from the movie V for Vendetta. In this clip, the main character gives a monologue, which is known as the alliteration speech. In the second clip, the video is removed, and emphasis is placed on the remix/movement of typography. The typography changes according to the character's voice, pitch, and tone. For instance, as the character gets excited, the font increases in size, and when the character has a comical comment, the typography adjusted to it.


Even text today is changing into something no one ever imagined a decade ago. Today, it is a hard to find a single layered text. Meaning, most online text today is hyperlinked with more information, providing the user with a broader understanding of the topic. Primary examples of these text are Wikipedia, CNN, and other hypertextual websites. Observe the multiple layers on this news website.



Remediation and Remix are concepts that alters the original concept and yields a new text with a completely different meaning, and still open to interpretation. The users can view a text, in the multiple formats available, and interpret it according to their own personal views. For instance, the following video is a slideshow of pictures where the viewers are asked to interpret or look for details in each slide. However, after each slide, the author shared his interpretation, which typically would be different from yours. Interpretation Video

Remediation and remix are two important elements in the broad domain of digital rhetoric. Essentially, these two elements allow the users to be inspired from an idea, and through using different formats are able to create a completely new idea based on the new authors interpretation. Such new texts can be beneficial in professional settings, for instance, advertising purposes, presentations, and product promotions. These texts can also be implemented in educational settings where they can be used as tools for learning, for instance, teachers and professors can make learning more fun by using interactive media.

Based on the ideas discussed in this section of digital rhetoric, we believe that through remediation and remix people can improve and enhance their social and professional lives. It has proven to be beneficial, and led to an increase in productivity. Overall, remediation and remix allows the average person to take an idea and promote it to his/her advantage through ways of persuasion, which equals a form of digital rhetoric.