Internet culture and why cats are hilarious
Jon Bounds is here talking to us about the peculiarities of Internet culture.
Fatso the keyboard cat, LOLCats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lolcat) are examples of how people take funny little internet memes and turn them into new memes by manipulating images and videos for humour. Have you heard people say "that video has gone viral"? This is the tipping point when a meme spreads all over the internet via social media which eventually leads to millions and millions of views. This is how ideas spread.
What is a meme, you ask? It's an idea, behaviour or style that spreads within a culture. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme
The moral of the story: If you want people to be talking about something in two years' time, you have to make it easy for them to care about it and spread it. Ideas that are valuable will spread.
So, what do memes have to do with science communication in our institutions? Do we have to integrate cats into our communication techniques? Are felines the key ingredient to going viral? Obviously not. You have to consider your audience. Think about how to stimulate conversation about your content - ask yourself "how involving is our material?" and "are we getting involved in other people's efforts?"
If you create something interesting enough, someone will take the time to spread within their networks, turn it into a joke, or see value in it for itself. Effective content is powerful because people will take hold of it, spread it, and thus turn it into a meme!
Human nature naturally wants to find the humour in things - this is why many memes are funny. Like keyboard cat (http://youtu.be/J---aiyznGQ) But what about serious memes for serious institutions? Think about transferable passion. For example, a hiker in Yosemite Park (now famously) discovered a double rainbow in the sky and made a You Tube video. His reaction was so passionate that the You Tube video now has over 33 MILLION views: http://youtu.be/OQSNhk5ICTI. Someone else created a song using an audio sample of the hiker's reaction (this song video scored oover 30 Millioin views) and now the song is available on ITunes. Pretty amazing.
Oh, and the LOLCats meme isn't just a joke; Kate Milner has just written a London School of Economics Masters thesis on the subject: www.huffingtonpost.com/mobileweb/2012/05/10/lolcats-dissertation-london-....