Creative Mashups

Have you ever heard of the word mashup? It’s a term that is often utilized by professionals in the web page design and music industries, one that refers to a site or song that incorporates (or “borrows”) disparate elements from existing works or styles. The composer mashes the elements together, producing a new creation that is startlingly new and yet clearly familiar.

Last weekend, for instance, the New Haven Symphony closed its holiday concert with a song called Jingle Bells Forever. Blending Stars and Stripes Forever, the traditional closing song of Memorial Day concerts, with Jingle Bells, which occupies a similar position at Christmas season events, it represents an oddly fascinating mashup of diverse musical pieces.

In a broader sense, we’ve also been witnessing mashups in many other sectors of our society, haven’t we? In politics, for instance, we see Donald Trump, with his blended persona of politician, real estate tycoon, and reality television personality. And in business, we observe Airbnb and Uber, firms that represent mashups of the emerging social media industry with the traditional hotel and taxi industries.

And who can forget the Apple iPhone? The mother of all mashups now dominates the mobile device industry with its aggregation of book reader, camera, computer, GPS device, music player, and (of course) telephone. Entire industries have fallen under the competitive onslaught of its myriad of diverse features.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that mashups simply present newly combined and integrated packages of existing products and services. In other words, there is usually nothing new under the sun about their individual functions.

In fact, even the phrase “nothing is new under the sun” is not new at all. It’s a sentence that originally appeared in Ecclesiastes 1:9 of the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian bible. Likewise, the elements of contemporary mashups are derived from elements that have long existed in our society.

So if you’re curious about what new and unexpected wonders will emerge during the upcoming year, you might find that the most creative surprises won’t really be new at all. Instead, they might be creative mashups of concepts and ideas that have been around forever.