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Mashup vs Remix

By the end of this week, I plan to post a draft of Chapter 1 ("Learning from a Study of Specific Mashups") for public comment. I'm a bit scared to do so since I see so many flaws in what I've written so far — and am wary of having even more pointed out by others! I also know, however, that the more intelligent and constructive feedback I get on my manuscript before the words get committed to print, the better it will be for me, the book, and ultimately my readers.

I currently have a sidebar that discusses nomenclature: specifically, what is the relationship among the word mashup and remixing in the context of my book — which is about "web mashups", the reuse and recombination of digital content. I'm tempted to just use the terms loosely and interchangeably and not to make a tight distinction between the terms. I'm not ready to go in that direction without taking another close look at the issue.

At this point, I am making some tentative conclusions, based largely on what I've read on the Wikipedia.

  • mashup and remix are terms that have their origin in popular music.
  • roughly speaking, a remix is a alternate version of a song while a mashup brings together elements of two or more songs.
  • there seems to be a tussle on the article on web mashups (technically, "Mashup (web application hybrid)") as to whether an application which is a mashup has to be "web application" or any type of "application".

At this point, I will say that if I wanted to make the parallels from popular music hold up for digital applications, I would use remix to talk about scenarios that are about reusing or repackaging data without combining it with other content (e.g., using the Flickr API to make a web page that has only Flickr images) while reserving mashups to refer to combinations of data from a variety of sources (e.g., combining Flickr photos with photos from Yahoo! photos). But the lines are fuzzy and, imho, not worth the effort to draw too carefully.

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