New From The MIT Press

Posted: March 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

Meme me up, Felix!

Internet memes—digital snippets that can make a joke, make a point, or make a connection—are now a lingua franca of online life. They are collectively created, circulated, and transformed by countless users across vast networks. Most of us have seen the cat playing the piano, Kanye interrupting, Kanye interrupting the cat playing the piano. In The World Made Meme, Ryan Milner argues that memes, and the memetic process, are shaping public conversation. It’s hard to imagine a major pop cultural or political moment that doesn’t generate a constellation of memetic texts. Memetic media, Milner writes, offer participation by reappropriation, balancing the familiar and the foreign as new iterations intertwine with established ideas. New commentary is crafted by the mediated circulation and transformation of old ideas. Through memetic media, small strands weave together big conversations.

Milner considers the formal and social dimensions of memetic media, and outlines five basic logics that structure them: multimodality, reappropriation, resonance, collectivism, and spread. He examines how memetic media both empower and exclude during public conversations, exploring the potential for public voice despite everyday antagonisms. Milner argues that memetic media enable the participation of many voices even in the midst of persistent inequality. This new kind of participatory conversation, he contends, complicates the traditional culture industries. When age-old gatekeepers intertwine with new ways of sharing information, the relationship between collective participation and individual expression becomes ambivalent.

  1. Collin Andersen says:

    A good meme can humilate a political figure faster and more thoroughly than any political cartoon ever could. Savy political thinkers realize that the political battlefield is shifting to the internet and social media.

    • I posted this with you mind. In academic environment which has become increasingly bureaucratic and sluggish, a dash of wit can work wonders. While I haven’t directly taught the importance of wit and ridicule in our course, I certain do teach this subject in my other IT courses. If I were to do so in IT8, I would do so at this point in the semester. Michael Fried, though seemingly suffering from a bad case of high seriousness, is in fact a scholar of the art of the French Enlightenment, the so-called Age of Diderot. This was a high-water mark in the history of Western humor. I believe many students could gain a great deal from having as closer look at the unique sensibility of that period.

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