[Air-L] Meme Tracking

fiona andf fiona.andreallo at gmail.com
Mon Jun 12 20:20:33 PDT 2017

re; Meme tracking.
I am an inter-diciplinary digital visual culture scholar and I submitted my
thesis a few weeks back focusing on digital memes and selfies(UTS, Sydney;
'The semeful sociability of digital memes'). I am interested in visual
social interaction and communication in social media.
In my thesis I relied heavily on Shiftman's work to investigate memes as
what might be described a form of vernacular creativity (Burgess).

I think this thread was originally about tracking digital memes so I want
to go back to that. Milners( Supervised by Baym) thesis might be of
interest when considering tracking as he investigated memes across a number
of platforms. Many scholars have thought for a while that vernacular is
based in the platform that the activity takes place. In my thesis I focused
on the concept of digital meme communities in the context of evolved place
and space in online contexts. ( my idea of community is the one Fish talks

 Shifman highlights  that digital memes are always groups of content. So I
guess what I am getting at is that you are considering tracking the
movement of memes through online spaces then I think it would be essential
to track groups and spreadability in some way rather then tracking a meme
because the conversation is essentially part of the community the memes and
to remove a meme from its context then also changes the meaning.

Hope that is of some help when thinking about tracking digital memes.


Fiona Andreallo
Lecturer USYD

On Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 9:00 AM, Jean Burgess <je.burgess at qut.edu.au> wrote:

> As the images posted to this list for the LOLs illustrate, these issues
> are very well rehearsed among vernacular experts. But they are very well
> rehearsed among scholars of internet culture as well.
> I second the recommendation to read Limor Shifman’s book on the subject,
> and if nobody else posted it, see also the Culture Digitally Festival of
> Memeology, which features many of the leading meme scholars
> http://culturedigitally.org/festival-of-memeology/
> The “festival” includes “Memeology Festival 05. Memes as Ritual, Virals as
> Transmission? In Praise of Blurry Boundaries” also by Limor Shifman, which
> is a very short piece that covers many of these questions.
> http://culturedigitally.org/2015/11/memeology-festival-05-
> memes-as-ritual-virals-as-transmission-in-praise-of-blurry-boundaries/
> On 12/6/17, 6:47 pm, "Air-L on behalf of Taylor-Smith, Ella" <
> air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org on behalf of E.Taylor-Smith at napier.ac.uk>
> wrote:
>     Hi all
>     If we are interested in studying what people are doing on the Internet
> (what they think they're doing etc.), then we can't ignore that people
> share images -especially images with words in -that they call memes.
>     The books coming out of the Why We Post project take this line and are
> rewarded with all sorts of insights about the contemporary use of memes in
> various cultures. E.g. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/why-we-
> post/discoveries/14-memes-have-become-the-moral-police-of-online-life
>     Miller and Sinanan's book about Facebook use is a good place to start
> Miller, D. & Sinanan, J. (2017). Visualising Facebook. London: UCL Press.
> http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ucl-press/browse-books/visualising-facebook
>     If we're interested in the relationship between Dawkins' ideas and the
> concept of an internet meme, I have a couple of pointers that might help.
>     It seems to be that media scholars use the term meme to study how
> content spreads across the Internet, by focusing on the content of the
> content -virality, while virality is a metaphor -people do the spreading,
> not the content.
>     For Dawkins (in the meme) "the idea of purpose is only a metaphor"
> (The Selfish Gene).
>     When Godwin introduced the Internet meme idea, he seemed to be taking
> this concept of virality in order to introduce a counter-meme (Godwin's Law
> of Nazi Analogies). In this case, the meme's purpose is Godwin's purpose.
>     https://www.wired.com/1994/10/godwin-if-2/
>     Many definitions of meme emphasise humour
>     e.g. “a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence
> through online transmission.”
>     Davison, P. (2012). The Language of Internet Memes. In M. Mandiberg
> (ed.), The Social Media Reader (pp. 120–34), New York: New York University
> Press
>     If we lose our sense of humour while studying or discussing memes, we
> will not be able to understand them at all.
>     Probably best not to underestimate the role of humour in any
> communications, but especially online.
>     Hope this helps.
>     -Ella
>     Dr Ella Taylor-Smith
>     School of Computing
>     Edinburgh Napier University
>     10 Colinton Road
>     Edinburgh, EH10 5DT
>     Email: e.taylor-smith at napier.ac.uk
>     http://www.iidi.napier.ac.uk/e.taylor-smith
>     http://about.me/EllaTaylorSmith
>     @EllaTasm
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