A couple of pieces today: this story about the imitation economy (which came my way via Edward) along with this new Chinese Warcraft film via Techcrunch, (which starts off with a very funny rip-off of Terminator and blends themes from the Matrix) reminded me that copying, once regarded as a small step above theft, has been transformed in popular culture and now the copyists (copiers?) are the hipsters.
Of course this isn’t new, it’s been moving steadily in this direction for ages starting with “Jap-Crap” which, over the course of a decade, transformed our view of “copied engineering.” As a result, we’ve lived with this trend for long enough for it to have seeped into the deepest levels of society and long enough to have influenced the values of one or more generations.
However, I think we are starting to value copying above creation. For example, remixes and covers of songs frequently get more play than the original versions. Movies based upon existing franchises or copied story-lines top the box office and blog/news aggregators gain far more traffic than the originating sources. Likewise we often value people who have broad experiences or influences rather than people who have depth in one specific area. This has a reinforcing impact upon the tools we create like RSS, Twitter, etc. We skim rather than dive deep because our culture is increasingly based upon re-appropriating not re-inventing.
Adrian is founding partner of Zeus Jones a branding company believing actions speak louder than words and that modern brands are defined by what they do not what they say. He speaks (and writes) regularly about non-communications based models for marketing & branding. @adrianho