What’s that sound?

That’s the Amen Break, the world’s most important 5.2 second drum loop. Whether you’re aware not, it’s likely you’ve heard it thousands of times.

The Amen Break was created and performed by a funk-and-soul band, The Winstons, in their song “Amen, Brother” back in the 1960’s.

It’s much more than a drum loop. It symbolises the rich remix and ‘mash-up’ culture we exist in. Participation has seen the break move between many a music genre from funk, soul, gospel and hip-hop to rave, jungle and drum&bass.

The internet provides us with the technologies to borrow, transform, remix, share and distribute music. We are able to use and produce collectively. This creates a new breed of user– the produser. So when does one cross the copyright line?

I’ve discussed the idea of music sampling and copyright issues in a previous post regarding Girltalk. Greg Gillis is the man behind Girltalk. He is a world renowned music creator whose work consists entirely of other artist’s music samples. Taking someone’s work and remixing it into your own obviously evokes some copyright issues.

The Amen Break has been sampled hundreds of times and despite this, the Winstons have never received royalties. And I don’t believe they should. It’s highly doubtful they were the first to compose that beat; they were just the ones that made it mainstream.

Along with strict copyright comes a strain on creativity. Copyright enforcement has the ability to shut down the remix culture. We are operating based on copyright principles that stood well before the monumental existence of the internet. I think it’s time to reassess copyright laws because in this day and age, everything is borrowed.

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Get Your Nerd On.

Like many, I spent a large majority of my younger years trying to find myself and fit in. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be but I did have a fair idea of who I didn’t want to be, and that was one of the geeky nerds who spent their school hours buried in books and their weekends behind game consoles.

This time was spent trying to de-nerdify one’s self only years later to find out… What? That nerds are now cool?

That’s right. Times they are a changin’.

Gone are the days when one sheepishly tries to hide their vast collection of comic books or highly developed opposable thumbs. Geeky interests in comics, film, games and technologies was once all that was needed for an individual to be socially ridiculed and the target of many a wedgie. These individualistic addictions are now being humbly embraced.

Cue the rise of the nerd.

Society has seen a shift in which nerds have become ‘coolified’, and it’s not too hard to understand why. The internet has given these nerds tools to connect with each other, empowering them with the realisation that they are not alone in their geeky interests. Now these nerds, armed with their knowledge, have their chance to use to internet to make BIG money and change the world. Take Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg- they probably weren’t the coolest kids in school.

Nerdom has become a mainstream popculture trend and fashion is naturally following. Fake glasses, high buttoned shirts and themed tee’s are all part of the rising style known as geek chic.

This new realisation of the coolness of nerds has left me feeling a little empty. Am I boring? As a kid I spent my days trying to steer clear of all things nerdy and now I just feel that I’m a little lacking in passion. I’m currently on the lookout for a nerdy interest to adopt and fill my time. Until then, I  might invest in some frames with popped out lenses and fake my nerdiness like the rest of the hipsters.

Transmedia Storytelling Delves Deeper

It would at first seem that the Blair Witch Project is just like any other American horror film, full of gaping plot holes. It’s based on the disappearance of three amateur film makers hiking in the hills of Burkitsville, Maryland. The three students are never to be seen again and the film comprises of their abandoned footage that was later recovered and relates their disappearance to the local legend of the Blair Witch. But we don’t know what really happened.We’ve come to expect these sorts of gaps in storytelling plots. But what if we could find out more? What if we could delve deeper into the story to explore the answers to our lingering questions?

The uprise of multiple media channels has allowed creators to employ a new age process of storytelling- Transmedia.

Henry Jenkins describes transmedia storytelling as, “A process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.”

The Blair Witch Project is in the original form of film, but the viewer’s understanding of the story doesn’t end there. It’s a transmedia narrative and was designed with the purpose of being explored over multiple channels. It really isn’t just any ordinary horror film.

Take the Blair Witch website for example, in the Mythology section there is a fake timeline which was published to provide deeper historical insight into the ‘urban legend’ of the Blair Witch. Another section on the site, Aftermath, lets us explore what happened after the movie’s end. It shows police evidence, photographs, interviews and other fake documentation. The website is an extension of the story and, as Jenkins states, “Adds a greater sense of realism to the fiction as a whole.”

A series of eight books titled The Blair Witch Files were also released in 2000 and were based on the exploration of the unexplained evil in the hills. The additional information is provided in the attempt to discover what really happened to the victims. A four issue comic book series was also produced titled The Blair Witch Chronicles and a trilogy of computer games were released. The novels, comics and games each made a unique contribution to the story as a whole and has allowed us to actively participate in and explore the Blair Witch Project.

Transmedia storytelling has enabled market expansion by targeting different segments and allowing multiple points of entry. Take a gamer, for example, who may have stumbled across and appreciated the game which then propelled him to watch the movie or even purchase the series of books. Transmedia is essential for economic growth within the industry and will inevitably be the future of storytelling.

Gaps in an unfolding story don’t need to be just that. Start to look around a little – there is a whole other world to be discovered.