Copy, transform, combine: exploring the remix as a form of innovation

Christoph M. Flath, Sascha Friesike, Marco Wirth, Frédéric Thiesse

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The reuse of existing knowledge is an indispensable part of the creation of novel ideas. In the creative domain knowledge reuse is a common practice known as “remixing”. With the emergence of open internet-based platforms in recent years, remixing has found its way from the world of music and art to the design of arbitrary physical goods. However, despite its obvious relevance for the number and quality of innovations on such platforms, little is known about the process of remixing and its contextual factors. This paper considers the example of Thingiverse, a platform for the 3D printing community that allows its users to create, share, and access a broad range of printable digital models. We present an explorative study of remixing activities that took place on the platform over the course of six years by using an extensive set of data on models and users. On the foundation of these empirically observed phenomena, we formulate a set of theoretical propositions and managerial implications regarding (1) the role of remixes in design communities, (2) the different patterns of remixing processes, (3) the platform features that facilitate remixes, and (4) the profile of the remixing platform’s users.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-325
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • 3D printing
  • knowledge reuse
  • online communities
  • openness
  • remixing


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