Memetics, the study and exploration of memes, seeks to apply an
evolutionary metaphor to cultural information transfer. Under Memetics, the path
of single unit of information (a meme) is compared to the replicating and mutating
behavior of a gene. A meme is cultural object such as a song, a religion, a word,
or an idea that replicates through a population. Cultural information transfer
occurs when memes are passed from one group to another group.
This dissertation interviews meme authors and analyzes the lifecycles of
three memes. Memetic analysis is used to chart the life cycle of the memes Cat
Macros, Rickrolling, and Battletoads and the model of Schudson’s Symbol
Potency is applied to interview data of the meme authors to determine the
efficacy of the memes’ retention in culture. A model is also developed for cultural
meme transference based on the behavior of the ocean ecosystem.
Through examination of meme artifacts and interviews with forum
members this dissertation adds to the growing body of literature about the
lifecycle of memes, visual analysis of cultural objects, and internet subcultures.
University of Minnesota Ph.D dissertation. August 2012. Major: Design. Advisor: Dr. Barbara Martinson. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 194 pages, appendices A-B.
Husted, Ursula Murray.
A funny thing happened on the way from the forum: the life and death of internet memes..
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