Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who built that? We all did

When I was an undergrad at Central Michigan University, I look a class in writing from Dr. Peter B. Orlik. He said something that stunned me at the time, but it turns out to be true: “There’s really nothing new. Creativity is just putting together things in different ways.”
I stumbled across this example. Our story begins 70 years ago, during World War II. Kay Kyser, “The Ol’ Professor of Swing,” had a hit record called “Jingle Jangle Jingle.”

It was a creative approach: It’s a cowboy song, arranged as big-band swing. It hit No. 1.
My mother loved this song. She would sing it while she did housework when I was a child.
In the pre-Internet age, it went where old hit records went – obscurity and the packages sold on late-night TV. But YouTube and digital archives brought it back: It’s for sale for 99 cents at Amazon.com.
Meanwhile, it found its way into a post-apocalyptic video game called Fallout: New Vegas.
A player known only as “Icky” got it stuck in his head. He also apparently was into something called “Electro Swing,” a sort of combination of swing samples and techno.
He turned "Jingle Jangle Jingle" into "Ring a Ding Baby." It’s cool:

At the same time, over in the DeviantArt community, people were fooling around with “My Little Pony” as a meme. They drew socks on them, made their own animations and had them sing terrible songs.
One of these artists, who goes by the name Tommy Xe, took Icky’s soundtrack of "Ring a Ding Baby" and turned it into a PMV: Pony Music Video.

And it’s just amazing.
Who made money off this? Maybe Google. Certainly the hardware and software makers who sold Icky and Tommy Xe the sophisticated machines they used to build these.
But mostly this is a path, an unpredictable path, through networks and open collaboration to something really creative. And according to writer Steven Johnson,  it’s really the answer to the question of “who built that.”

No comments: