What is a Meme?• Meme: An idea that spreads from one person to another. o Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene (1976) o Ex: Slang, Expressions, Gestures, Methods, etc o A concept that runs parallel to genes in Biology• Internet meme: A unit of digital information passed from one internet user to another or one site to another that significantly mutates in form or content along the way o Ex: Image, Video, Article, Hyperlink, etc o Memes that are highly documentable
The Know Your Meme Database• An online database that researches and archives Internet memes, viral media and other online phenomena, powered by the community and moderated by staff and power users.• A hybrid of research community and daily internet news blog, we track and study the latest trends on the web and older classic memes.• The worlds largest resource of information on Internet memes, with more than 3,200 entry submissions, over 1,200 confirmed memes and 10 million unique visitors per month.
A Brief History of Know Your Meme• December 2007: Began as a short documentary series on YouTube by co-founders Kenyatta Cheese, Ellie Rountree and Jamie Wilkinson, later joined by Patrick Davidson and Mike Rugnetta.• December 2008: Spun off into a website as a Wikipedia- style database and a research community.• April 2011: Joined Cheezburger, a network of internet famous blogs including FAILBlog, I Can Has Cheezburger, Memebase and The Daily What.
About CheezburgerOne of the world’s largest internet humor publishers with 20 million daily users and 500 million monthly page views
What is not a meme?• An idea that is mass-produced and promoted by a single individual or an organization is generally unqualified. o Mainstream News Media vs. Memes o Forced Meme vs. Memes• A viral video is not necessarily an internet meme o YouTubes VEVO Channel music videos are not memes o Needs evidence of organic spread through mass participation (active) rather than mass consumption (passive) of the media• Notable Examples: #1 / #2 / #3 / #4 / #5
A Brief History of theTerm "Internet Meme"From 1980s ~ Now
1980s to Mid-1990s: Internet & Programming Culture• Environment: Bulletin Board System (BBS) communities, Usenet newsgroups, ICQ or Internet Relay Chatrooms• Characteristics: Memes were self-referential in nature (internet memes about the internet) and text-driven conversations, such as ASCII art, emoticons, slang terms, hoaxes and rumors, "rules" about online communications• Timeline of Memes (80s to 90s): http://bit.ly/80sto90s
Late 1990s to Mid-2000s: Humor & Geek Consumer Culture• Environment: Male-centric humor websites ("no girls on the Internet), Anonymous and socially exclusive communities, multiplayer online games o Bro communites: Newgrounds, Something Awful, FARK, General Mayhem, B3ta, 4chan, YTMND, Bodybuliding Forum, FunnyJunk, o Early Social networks: DeviantART, LiveJournal, MySpace• Characteristics: Tech news, Video games, concepts of FAIL (schadenfreude), WTF (non-sequitur) and N00b, shocking, weird and unfiltered media, Digital Cameras, Flash Animations• Timeline of Memes: http://bit.ly/90sto2000s
Mid-2000s to Now: Viral Video &Participatory Culture on a Global Scale• Environment: Global Media-Sharing Sites, Social Networking Platforms, Convergence of mainstream and the Internet o YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Etc• Characteristics: Multimedia conversations, viral video, accidental stardom, participatory and inclusive culture, real life consequences• Examples: Click Here
The Current State ofInternet MemesFrom Passive to Participatory Culture
1. A basic medium of self-expression andonline conversations• We express ourselves through multi-media objects with recurring messages, themes or symbols. o Ex: Reaction Images Macros, GIFs, Videos, Rage Comic Faces• Humor and conciseness (being short) are powerful currencies in online conversations. It says a lot without saying too much.• Already seen on internet humor forums of the 90s, but now it has spread to virtually all social networking and media-sharing platforms.
Examples: Reaction Faces & ImageMacros• We project our feelings and response through someone elses facial expressions that are already familiar to us o It is non-verbal and therefore concise and universally accessible o Notable Examples: Click Here• We express ourselves by changing the context of someone elses image through text captions, or image macros o An effect way to set the tone and context of your message o Grammatical rules make the process more competitive and game-like o Someone can beat to the same idea before you do! o Notable Examples: #1 / #2 / #3 / #4 / #5
Rage Comics • Began on 4chan in 2008 with the Rage Guy (FFFUUUU) • Rage Comic characters as the universal building block of Internet storytelling. • Copying & pasting from existing characters, rather than drawing original characters • Now it is an international collaboration and many are stencil art based on reaction faces of famous people
2. Internet memes as the Bridge between the Peopleand the Mainstream News Media•• Convergence of Pop Culture & Internet Culture o Mainstream presence on the Internet grows => Wealth of remix materials => Potential value in constructive criticism• Memes can deliver feedback and criticism effectively o TV Production Team <=> Audiences o Manufacturers <=> Consumers o The Government <=> Citizens o The Public <=> Political / Social Activists• Emergence of global hubsites amplifies its spread
Internet Memes as the Voice of the People• Memes can deliver feedback and criticism to places with suggestion boxes that are hardly ever opened o Rage Against the Machine for No.1 Christmas, BP Oil Spill, Mass Effect 3 Ending, Bronys #SaveDerpy campaign, Bring Back Toonami, #ExilePitBull, Wikileaks• Viral success of "Oracao" by A Banda Mais Bonita da Cidade vs. "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye o Both filmed in one take / Both became well-known after reaching Facebook / there are snowclone jokes about the song and parody songs with lyrics changed.
Internet Memes as a Propaganda Fuel or aPromotional ToolIn Marketing & Advertisement: Click HereOld Spices Viral Ad Campaign: YouTube Channel & Participatory VideosKeep Coolers Marketing Campaign: MemeMaker & Rap Dos Memes (BR)In Politics: Click HereHerman Cains Viral Campaign Ads: linkMitt Romneys Amercia is with Matt app: linkIn Activism & Movements: Click Here- Arab Spring => 2011 Toronto Riot => Occupy Movement => 2011 UK Riot => 2011 Toronto Student Protests => Russian Anti-Putin Protests => Mexicos YoSoy132 Movement
3. Memes as an Approach to Media & CulturalStudies• An explosive growth in availability of online media metadata o They can answer when and where a piece of information was uploaded, who uploaded it and how popular it has been. o You can backtrace it and consequences will never be the same!• Supercut as a microcosm of a pop culture meme o It compiles, documents and deconstructs the history of a cliche or a catchphrase in popular culture, thanks to standardization of metadata, availability of source materials and cultural reference sites o Notable Examples: http://bit.ly/SupercutVids
3. Memes as an Approach to Media & CulturalStudies• By distancing away from a single author and focusing on the variation and mutation by many, we can shed light on how and why things spread that way. This perspective can help us understand the distribution of power in cultural influences. o Ex: Shift in authority from 4chan to Reddit• Identifying patterns that are found or spread universally across different languages and Internet cultures: o Misspelled language games: Tiopês (Brazil) / Preved (Russia) / Dolan (Finnish-English) / Ermahgerd (English) o Localization of Foreign Memes & Language Contact
The Future of MemesWhat Will "Memes" Mean in 2010?
Tomorrows Definition of an Internet Meme• Information that spreads rapidly on the Internet and lands the headline on the next day (the buzzword status can lead to an even faster meme cycle)• It could become absorbed by the news media as a logical replacement for the word "trend" (it may get hijacked by the mainstream media altogether)• Easy and acceptable like a text message and blurring the line between pop culture and internet culture. Or music or poetry of our generation thats looked down upon, but will be recognized as culturally really important in the future.