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Mash-ups, from the Model T to Johnny Lee

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The New York Times has a thoughtful piece today on Model T hacking — which kicked off the modern sport of customizing, bending, modding and otherwise repurposing a commercial item for unintended-by-the-manufacturer uses. As Steve Lohr writes:

The early Model T hackers were really pioneers in a realm of creative activity that academics call “user innovation.” It has become subject of systematic study only in the last few years, as researchers examine how this kind of individual endeavor works and try to assess its economic impact.

The approach is a break with the tradition of looking at companies, either large ones or start-up ventures, as the main engines of innovation in the economy.

In Charles Leadbeater’s TEDTalk, learn more about the power of user-driven creativity — then watch Johnny Lee’s TEDTalk on Wii Remore hacks or Joshua Klein’s demo of crow hacks and get inspired to do your own.

Photo: Henry Ford Museum / New York Times