The very model of a modern creative society? I don’t think so

This morning’s Observer column

[Tom] Lehrer is famous for many things, but chief among them is his famous observation that ‘satire died the day Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize’. The song of his that I like most is ‘The Elements Song’, in which he recites the names of all the elements of the periodic table at high speed and without fudging a syllable, while at the same time playing a stirring piano accompaniment of what he described as ‘a barely recognisable tune’. It’s an astonishing performance and it resides happily on my iPod.

The other day, I chanced on a link to a lovely piece of Flash animation (see it for yourself here), in which a chap named Mike Stanfill took the Lehrer soundtrack and visually added the names of the elements in a witty – and technically very demanding – way. My first reaction was pure pleasure. My second thought was that this provides a good object lesson for understanding the current debate about intellectual property in a digital age…

Later… Adam Hodgkin pointed out a lovely Lehrer song about the virtues of plagiarism!