Where Sharing Exists, Innovation Flourishes

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by RuffRyd

A few months ago when I first heard the song “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I thought it was, if anything, annoying with some weird lyrics.  In the last few weeks though, I have kind of become addicted to it as I have heard it in so many different voices and genres.  I saw this article talking about all of the different versions that have been remade of the song and posted on YouTube:

 The infectious track about a girl with a crush was labeled the “perfect pop song” by Emma Carmichael at Gawker, who calls it “maddeningly addicting.” (Watch the music video here.) Already, it’s inspired a host of lip-synched viral video covers — starring unlikely crooners ranging from the Harvard varsity baseball team to James Franco — and has inspired unique clips starring the likes of Jimmy Fallon and President Obama.

After watching a few of these, I decided to put a sample of a few of them together for a presentation that I recently delivered and here was the result:

What was extremely interesting about all of these remakes of this song, was that it has seemingly inspired the original artist to put together a remake of her own song with Jimmy Fallon, which at this point, is almost at 6 million views.

The circle continued and while I was actually in Australia, I noticed a Sesame Street remake of the Carly Rae Jepsen remake which is actually quite hilarious.

The learning and the creating seems to go on and on, and probably will not step for a long time.  But with all of this, who in the end wins?

Well actually it is simple.


The consumer gets to enjoy some top quality content, or some hilarious parodies and may be inspired.

The people remixing the work benefit because they have the ability to be creative and share their work with the world.

And ultimately, the creator of the original content wins. Big.

I remember that I did not even like this song until I saw the Jimmy Fallon version, as I felt a connection to the musical instruments that were being used from an elementary classroom.  Before then, I simply found the song annoying.  But as I saw different versions, the song seemed to get stuck in my head, and gained more notoriety, or even popularity.  By shutting down all the new versions, what would the artist gain?  Less people would hear her song and ultimately, it would actually make less money.  It would have perhaps also stifled the creator of the original content.

Would this song have been as big if alternate versions weren’t created and shared?  I highly doubt it.

Organizations and schools need to learn from this.  Where sharing exists, innovation flourishes.  Everyone wins.

I saw this David Wiley quote before, and it states the following:

If there is no sharing, there is no teaching.

To actually build upon that, I would make one simple tweak that the process of all of these remakes reveals to be clearly evident.

If there is no sharing, there is no learning.

 How do we as schools learn from the openness of the web and how sharing actually promotes growth of all those involved?




  1. My Principal (@fryed) shared Paul Bloom's video recently, 'The Origins of Pleasure' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPicL1AWrs8&fe… . A few of the thoughts and comments in your post reminded me of his appreciation for originality and what we may (or may not) value in reproductions or remakes. At the very least, it's interesting to compare the two.

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  2. George:
    I, too, started out finding this annoying, particularly after our annual year-end lip-synch assembly, where it vied for most popular song, with "that's what makes you beautiful". When15,000 people packed my town's waterfront to hear her sing for free, I stayed away.

    but…. cookie monster, and Star Wars, and yes, the Roots and Jimmy Fallon have made me re-think it.

    Now, I'm looking forward to messing with my students' heads in the fall, by seeing whether we can play with this. where could my music students find the words to fit with a favorite song, to create their own parodies? How are the audio clip mash-ups different from something like the Gotye parody "the Star Wars that I used to know?" what are the best tools for playing with this? If we create these, how do we make them fair use? When we share them, how do we license them? so many threads to explore, and share.

  3. Hi George. I just started reading "Creating Innovators" by Tony Wagner and he spoke to many young innovators, their parents, teachers, mentors and employers, and all of them speak to collaboration being one of the most significant catalysts when it comes to creativity and innovation. They cherished all the opportunities they had to learn from, work with and fail with others.ovators

  4. It just goes to show that all of us are smarter than one of us. Trying to outdo by creating a different take on this song is what drives innovation. This is what businesses are continually doing to out do other businesses. It makes products better for the consumer. Love the idea that innovation is fueled by sharing. You never know where your next great idea will come from. But I would say usually it is from hearing what someone else has done and then I tweak it to my style.

  5. This post hit a chord with me. "If there is no sharing there is no learning." My 3 year-old proved your point. He sat down with me and read your post because he was excited by the innovation in it (& Cookie Monster). We were able to talk about sharing and how the songs were changed, so people can have fun and learn about sharing. It really is as simple as you talk about. Share your time and your experiences and you will learn and so will everyone else you come into contact with! Beautiful message that is spreading! #sherpapower :)

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