MashUps Made for MultiTasking Minds

Fundamental trends are now at work that are making MashUps inevitable & popular; i.m.o. these factors are certain to make MashUps more than a fad- but a trend. Key contributing factors include:

  • Global sharing of info, views, interests
  • Worldwide instant sharing of ideas & opinions
  • Global instant sharing of entertainment
  • Humans who more capably embrace multiple ‘unrelated’ concepts simultaneously, and with open minds.


Global media, free uploads, twitter & social media all fuel these factors.

The downside of these trends? Studies prove this isn’t an age of patience. Attention spans are shrinking and flash-in-the pans seem more the rule, than the exception. Mashups are inspired, experimental & often ephemeral. Will Psy’s Korean dance-rap will be popular in a decade? Probably not. Some folks bemoan the limited longevity of today’s pop-culture fascinations, yet naysayers miss a key Big Picture change; MashUps mark a very creative period in the world’s cultural evolution. Traditionalists lament it’s an age of shrinking attention spans. But look deeper: more people- especially younger people- are driving/ cycling/walking while listening to music, conferences or voice calls. Attending a college lecture & updating their fb page. Talking to both a caller & a store cashier at once. Honing their Multitasking skills. I prefer to say it’s an age of ‘shared attention’ rather than inattention; as a college instructor, you get ‘a share of’ each student’s initial attention. To win all of it, and hold it, you better bring your A-game. Give students a passionate, creative, involving instructor and they’ll skip their multitasking.

Scientists are proving that the brain is being rewired. Multitaskers think differently: not better, not worse, but differently. The brain is like a forest- big, complex, full of potential. Processing a thought is like taking an (electrochemical) path. You walk one path; a multitasker takes a different path- then takes it again & again. Eventually, what’s 2nd nature for you, differs from what’s 2nd nature to them. The brain’s ‘wiring’, or ‘default pathways’ have now been found to be distinct in multitaskers & multimedia fans.

Diehard Traditionalists may want to fight this: ban multimedia devices in classrooms; scold children who text a friend while ‘listening to you’. Another option: go with it. Commerce already embraces this new reality. Most new ‘hit’ books require less patience, or go to great efforts to grab the attention of an increasingly short-spanned audience, an all-senses-engaged method: Words plus pics in ‘graphic’ novels. Visual, audio & touch senses in gaming. Films with 3D visuals & surround-sound. Long books/films are routinely broken up into ‘volumes’..

Some of the multimedia generation may have more trouble with patience-oriented concepts, yet rewired brains may better handle multiple paths and unrelated concepts. Where did ‘Korean Fish Tacos’ come from? It’s a MashUp of 3 separate trends:

  • Korea is hot (Psy, The Host, Sandra Oh, Daniel Dae Kim)
  • Vegetarian/ Pescetarians movements are hot
  • Hispanic is in (Javier Bardem-Skyfall, E. J. Olmos- Dexter, Sofia Vergara-Modern Family, etc)


Commercial enterprise puts 3 hot trends together- and voila- Korean Fish Tacos.

Multi-tasking brains may help explain the popularity of:

  • Werewolves are hot & Vampires are hot, so both together is better (Twilight, Underworld, etc)
  • Civil War lore is hot & Vampires are hot (hence ‘Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’)
  • Zombies are hot & everything Jane Austen is hot, hence a hot-selling ‘Pride, Prejudice & Zombies’
  • Lego remains hot & Princess Brides too, hence ‘fan films’ of P.B. sequences done in Lego, are hot
  • Alien is hot & Predator has a passionate cult following, so the studios offered ‘AVP’
  • Batman is hot & Predator is popular, ergo the fan films ‘Batman vs Predator’
  • Angry Birds is hot & so is Star Wars, so why not combine  them?
  • Fruit Ninja is hot, and Dubstep is too, so why not combine them?


…and on & on. Mash-ups even intrigue me. Imagine how well they appeal to minds wired to better process many unrelated concepts at once. If multitasking is a newly evolving brain skill, where else might this take the future?

  • Combined athletics (Mud Runs, ‘mixed’ martial arts)
  • Combo-experiences: eg Nuit Blanche, Adventure Tourism, etc
  • Combo music styles: Pop & Dubstep; Korean Rap; Indian Rock
  • Combo Cuisine: Korean Fish tacos, Mandalay Butter Chicken Poutine, Cranberry Vodka


The next time you’re annoyed that your daughter starts to text while you’re talking to her, remember: she’s probably multitasking better than you can. And what she’s doing, is a sign of a new wave.

Of course for every movement, there is a counter-movement; this may explains the new popularity of yoga, meditation classes & quiet rooms, ways people can escape the multimedia mayhem for a moment, and focus. I suggest you strongly encourage multitaskers to engage in focus-oriented pursuits. It’s an exciting prospect: imagine the upside if they can embrace these multitasking talents & open-minded MashUp attitudes, and retain some of the past generations’ perseverance & focus! That may mark an evolution of the Human Race.

Steven Litt