Many people (my family included) were pleased to see the return of the hit TV series Glee this week. (I wrote about Glee before.) There is a lot to like about the show, but their adept handling of “mashups” may be one of their signature strategies.

Because this is Change of Venue Friday, let’s muse a bit on why we like mashups so darned much.

First, a definition, for those unfamiliar with the term. The mashup is a combination of two unlike things, yielding a result that may be surprisingly harmonious and enjoyable.

You know, peanut butter and chocolate.

We all—lawyers included—like the mashup. Perhaps that’s because it exemplifies the best moments in life itself, those times when aspects of living collide and let us see things in a brand-new way.

So ever-present is the mashup that there is now a universal symbol of the process. It was developed by a creative type named Zohar Manor-Abel, and it looks exactly like it means—many into one—just like our own “E Pluribus Unum” nation.

The logo is open source, so you can use it freely. How mashup-able is that?

The iPad is another example of a mashup, or at least technology that encourages us to mash, mash, mash. Their most recent TV ad shows how you can gather your world and all its disparate elements into this black rectangle.

Facebook also is a master of the mashup. Where else do we entertain all of our friends, with all of our “friends,” and add in news items, retail pitches, blog meanderings and comical waste-of-time games like Farmville? Facebook is all about the mashup.

But those mashups also can be odd.

On Facebook, I have a “friend” who once, a generation ago, was a friend. We haven’t spoken in years, but about a year ago he located me (damn my unique name) and I’ve been be-“friended” ever since. But in the past few months, his posts have started to send me around the bend. They are focused almost entirely on the evils of building a mosque anywhere in the New York tri-state area. He even changed his profile picture from his face to be the Twin Towers pre-9/11.

All pretty harsh, angry stuff. Not “gleeful” at all.

Cold Stone: Pretty sweet mashups

But then two days ago Facebook’s functionality caused a mashup that made me smile. As I scanned my feed, I saw my friend’s looming towers next to the update, “Sinclair Jabberwot likes Cold Stone Creamery.”

(I hope there’s no one really called Sinclair Jabberwot.)

Cold Stone and mosque-bashing—kind of takes the wind out of your reactionary sails, doesn’t it? But that’s a mashup world—sometimes hate-filled and lovable all at the same time.

The other night I encountered another mashup. I belong to a trade group called the Society of Professional Journalists, and on Wednesday they held an evening seminar on a reporting topic—social media, of all things.

The SPJ puts on great programs, but they’re often an odd conglomeration of types. The other night was no different. A mix of coiffed on-air talent sat cheek-by-jowl with writers, photographers and affiliated industry people.

As I participate in programs like these, I sometimes feel that there’s an interior monologue of dueling worldviews:

  • TV newspeople: “Does anyone have a way to get pâté stains out of Porsche upholstery?”
  • Ink-stained wretches: “Does anyone have the number for AHCCCS? My kid has a boil.”

But the other night, when the topic was social media—mashup’s own downtown—the groups meshed.

At Arizona Attorney Magazine, mashups may be less evident: We’ve got our legal beat, and we tend to stick to it. But they still exist. Engaging readers means sometimes mixing topics and themes to reach people who are busy and toil in niches. That’s why we recently ran articles on environmental law and law practice, and even on legal history—something that no one practices daily, but may enjoy.

Enjoy the mashups in your own life—and enjoy the weekend.