Memes of Communication A conversation about digital folklore.

Memes of Communication A conversation about digital folklore.

Issue 38

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Tom Faber
  • Photograph Matteo Bianchessi

NOTES

If Oscar Wilde were still around today, he would have something perfectly scathing to say about memes. But while the viral images that clog our feeds may be considered the lowest form of culture, they aren’t totally dissimilar from Wilde’s own aphorisms. Both thrive on wit and concision, while revealing truths we’re loathe to admit. Over the past decade, academics have been taking the world of memes more seriously via the study of digital folklore. The practice takes an anthropologist’s lens to emojis, GIFs and Reddit posts, using them as clues to help understand our digitally mediated culture. Trevor Blank is a folklorist and associate professor of communication at the State University of New York at Potsdam, who has written or edited seven books about digital folklore.1

Some ...

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