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Remixability and Modularity


The logic of culture often runs behind the changes in economy – so while modularity has been the basis of modern industrial society since the early twentieth century, we only start seeing the modularity principle in cultural production and distribution on a large scale in the last few decades. While Adorno and Horkheimer were writing about "culture industry" already in the 1940s, it was not then - and its not today - a true modern industry. In some areas such as production of Hollywood animated features or computer games we see more of the factory logic at work with extensive division of labor. In the case of software engineering (i.e. programming), software is put together to a large extent from already available software modules - but this is done by individual programmers or teams who often spend months or years on one project – quite different from Ford production line assembling one identical car after another. In short, today cultural modularity has not reached the systematic character of the industrial standardization circa 1913.

Article  2005