When writing a manuscript on crisis memes recently I decided to reference each meme as found at the site Know Your Meme (previously the Internet Meme Database). This was partially for convenience but also because the site is, in fact, set up more like a researchable archive than most meme collections.
The site collects every new meme, and most memes are amusing, but it also attempta to document the history, graph the popularity, and explain the basic templating structure. As Alexis Tsotsis reports, the staff consider themselves internet folklorists in the ethnographic tradition of Alan Lomax (who chronicled the life of Woody Guthrie, among others) and are even writing a Kickstarter-funded book.
Although their online analysis is currently thin, let’s face it, it’s mainly for the lulz… and the bucks. Know Your Meme was bought for seven figures earlier this year by the Cheezburger network (the behemoth that has grown out of one of the first LOLcat collection sites).
Hmm, lucrative, self-supporting research that blends the humorous and the serious. Sounds enticing…