In this web series Everything is a Remix Kirby Ferguson argues, “creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials.” How?

  • Copy: No one starts out original. We cannot create anything new until we have a solid foundation of knowledge and understanding in our line of work. Copying is how we learn.
  • Transform: Taking an idea and creating variations. Major advances are usually not original ideas, but the breaking point in a long history of progress by many different individuals.
  • Combine: The most dramatic results happen when various ideas are combined together. By connecting ideas together, creative leaps can be made.

Creativity has always been built upon the previous work of others. Thomas Edison did not invent the first light bulb – his patent was on “Improvement in Electric Lamps”. Through transformation, he ran 6,000 filament variations to create a bulb that was commercially viable. Apple didn’t invent the first desktop computer. Through combination, they connected Xerox’s graphical interface with the idea of a computer as a household appliance. As Ferguson urges in his TED Talk, “embrace the remix”.

Previously: See our interview with Kirby Ferguson — Talent Is Persistence: What It Takes To Be An Independent Creative

  • Jonathan Barragan

    Copy, Transform, Combine, so short and simple, yet sound advice for budding creatives. Fun and quick read!

  • Ioana Pelehatăi

    Great points, great read & pretty much what we’re arguing for, in our upcoming web series on copyright: (We’re fans of Everything Is a Remix, too).

  • Bret3

    No, sorry, that guy’s argument is all wrong. It’s perfectly fine advice to be inspired by things around you, and I even think remixes are a form of creativity. His argument falls down when he suggests that creative people do nothing except copy other people’s previous work and when he suggests the elimination of intellectual property.

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