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Mashup and M*A*S*H

My first encounter with mashups was with music. My favourite is The Verve vs. Jay-Z – Brush Your Bittersweet Shoulders Off, which can be found at These types of mashups seem to get into all kinds of trouble because of copyright issues, which is a shame, because the good ones are pretty cool.

I just did a little search on mapping mashups, and of course the big one now is the one that tracks the swine flu. One of my favourite mapping tools is Map My Run, which allows you to plot out running routes, see the elevations of those routes, log your times, track your training and even figure out how many calories you burned!

Surfing around the net, I realized that the term can refer to anything that uses two more things to create one thing. So this goes wayyy beyond maps. Through the mashup feed link, I discovered Glue, which allows you to share your surfing habits with your friends and see what your friends have viewed, liked, and reviewed online. It’s a mashup of amazon, wikipedia, youtube and a whole bunch of other sites. It’s not for me, but it’s a great example of how far you can take mashups, and how much is actually out there.

It’s crazy. I have seen so many new social media products, I don’t know how to keep track of them. Of course, that’s the point. They’re media, plural, and they offer a lot of choice.

It would be easy to reject all of this – blogging, Second Life, twitter – who really uses these things anyway? But I think it’s really important to keep in mind that these represent more than just a bunch of new tools. Social media are reflective of a whole new attitude towards communication. I grew up in the TV age, when your choices were print or broadcast. “Professionals” somewhere out there produced the content, you waited for it, and consumed it. We worried about how TV was “dumbing down” the public discourse. Print was better, because it required more thought. But the truth is, both print and broadcast were passive media for the audience. Even the early web was just a clickable version of print. The rise of sites like Facebook shows that people have a new attitude towards media – they expect to co-create their experience. Isn’t that a good thing?

There is still room for those “traditional” media (I still laugh a little when I think of TV as traditional), but I think we have to keep abreast of how we communicate with each other, how students communicate with us and with each other, and what the best communication practices will be, given the expectation of co-creation.

Social media may not be “where the kids are”, at least right now. But it’s our responsibility to try as best we can to understand the change in communication we are experiencing, to participate in them, and to empower students to make use of them in transformative ways.


– Chris G

Bonus: ever since I started thinking about mashups, I couldn’t get the the old 70s show out of my head:

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