"Copying is how we learn. We can't introduce anything new until we're fluent in the language of our domain... and we do that through emulation"
That quote is incredibly powerful to me. How do we take notes in class? By copying down the instructor's lecture. Kids are taught how to write by copying a letter ad nauseam.
Going through the history of the Mac made me think of Silicon Valley culture today and how we mock how products are pitched: "It's like Facebook but for middle schoolers!" "Think AirBnB but for cars!". We compare them to products that they're derivative of, but these companies have chosen pivots that attempt to differentiate by following the basic elements of creativity.
Good UX is built on the premise of copy, transform, and combine - why reinvent the wheel when there are perfectly good patterns in place? It's how the 'hamburger menu' came into such prominence in mobile design. I learned UX design by studying the products out on the market and understanding what worked and what didn't - after that, I built my own work. But as much as I copied and remixed, I never claimed to be the originator of the core idea. I took guidance from Apple and Google's style guides to create products that would fit into their look in feel in order to give the user some background knowledge of how to use the software. I think that's the core of knowing that everything is a remix - part of the social contract of remixing is knowing what you're remixing from and giving the credit when it's due.
Though history will always favor some inventors over others as the last part regarding multiple inventors shows...
I started to talk about the US Patent Office but held off when I saw the title of Part IV. Up until 2013 patents were granted to those who invented first; if you had proof of when you invented something, you were granted the patent regardless of if someone else filed for the same patent earlier. Now that's been reversed, and the Patent Office is so antiquated that an overhaul is needed.
Patent trolls. UGH. I remember reading the tech articles when the big lawsuits started flying around Silicon Valley. There's also that weeeee little case of Apple vs Samsung, in which the two companies went to war over the design and implementation of their smartphone OSes. While I personally thought Apple was in the right, software patents as weapons of war defeat the purpose of them. There needs to be a way to balance the rights of the inventor and the ability to innovate using these concepts as a baseline, but so far no one has come up with a good solution.