Book Review Memes

Internet memes, such as ‘LOLcats’, ‘Planking’, or ‘Gangnam Style’, have end up being influential elements of digital culture. But they are even more than simply funny photos or videos common with friends; in Memes in Digital CultureLimor Shifman suggests that they recurrent a brand-new create of digital participation. An comprehensive analysis of the beginning and also nature of Net memes renders this book a good check out for any kind of researcher interested in digital culture and brand-new media, writes Sophie Lecheler.

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Why did a YouTube video of ‘Gangnam Style’, a song performed by South Korean singer PSY, attract countless viewers online? More importantly, why did some of these viewers then invest time and initiative into developing brand-new ‘spoof’ versions of this video (think: ‘Inmate Gangham Style’, ‘Romney Style’ or ‘Eton Style’)? What carry out self-produced videos or photoshopped imeras that are mutual by millions say around Internet 2.0 and also its’ participatory potential? Memes in Digital Culture examines the central aspect of digital society that is Net memes. Author Limor Shifmale gives a considerable and also clear definition of what Internet memes are. More importantly, Shifman suggests that Internet memes are indications of an active digital society and also are as such pertinent for researchers interested in public participation additionally. Shifman’s principle of the Internet meme is based upon the concept of ‘memes’, which goes earlier to Rictough Dawkins’ 1976 book The Selfish Gene. According to Dawkins, memes are small components of our society that spcheck out from person to perchild either with copying or imitation. Thus, memes have actually been the subject of a range of researches in the time of the last years, and Shifman offers the reader an extremely brief but satisfying overcheck out of the field of ‘memetics’ at an early stage in the book (Chapters 1 and also 2). Shifmale then connects the research of memes via contemporary digital society and the Net 2.0 (Chapter 3). This not only makes for a clear meaning of what Internet memes are (Chapter 4), yet also supports Shifman’s central argument in this book: Net memes are more than just a fun pastime or easy jokes, but are part of a “(post)contemporary folklore” (p.15) or common society of digital participation. Understanding this shared culture is appropriate from a media researches and a political scientific research perspective, as memes deserve to be believed of as a new create of civic participation. In any type of instance, Shifmale provides clear that Web memes are to be taken seriously and also that a lot research study requirements to be done in order to understand also their potential and duty in democratic and nondemocratic says.

Beyond its clear theoretical basis, it is the integration and explacountry of many kind of real-life Net memes that provides this book a good read, also for readers who are brand-new to the field. For circumstances, Chapter 6 contains arguments as to why some digital content on, for example, YouTube motivates users to develop new versions of this content. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest catalysts of Web memes are videos and also photos that function (occasionally unintentional) humour and/or representations of ‘flawed’ people struggling via their daily resides. Shifguy illustrates these ‘memetic’ videos or photographs by a variety of examples. One is the well-known and also widely-common ‘David after Dentist’ video, which attributes little David babbling ameans under the impacts of anaesthesia (p. 77). Chapter 7 gives an even even more detailed understanding into expertise Net memes and produces an overview of various meme genres. Each genre is aobtain portrayed by examples, periodically consisting of the actual meme (in instance of photographs) itself. Meme genres variety from the amateurish ‘Lipsynch’ videos, where an individual attempts to match their lip movements to a particular song, to ‘Reactivity Photoshops’, the editing and enhancing and also personalization of a photo that has previously provoked a humorous or emotional reactivity via the individual.

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That Internet memes go past general silliness is convincingly portrayed in Chapter 8, where Shifman connects memes with political participation and also election campaigns. Political memes, which have the right to be serious and also humorous, are developed by both online individuals and political campaigners. Shifman uses the 2008 US Presidential project to highlight how memes have the right to be provided as a persuasive tactic within an election campaign. Shifguy suggests that the necessary function memes play in future election campaigns is based on the understanding that indevelopment stemming from peers, such as friends or family members is in the finish more persuasive than that produced by political elites. Yet, as the instance of the 2008 project reflects, political memes are not actually qualified by amateurish, user-generated videos or photos. Rather, the 2008 campaign featured a number of (semi-) professional meme-style videos such as the “Yes We Can” music video, which was developed by a group of professional artists.

Shifman likewise reflects that political memes bear the potential for a grassroots approach: The Occupy Wall surface Street activity made the slogan “We Are the 99 Percent” popular. This slogan also led to a prolific Web meme, in which individuals posted photos of themselves with a created statement around their stays and also tribulations, signed with “I am the 99 percent”. Again, Shifman argues that memes offer a brand-new way of public participation, one where citizens are able to express political opinions and also get involved in necessary discussions. This dispute connects via other studies in the field of new media, which additionally find that user-produced content may function as a mobilizer for citizens that are not usually able or willing to convey their political opinions in the conventional electronic media. For those with plans to conduct study in the field of Net memes or digital culture, Shifmale provides a brief summary of her primary debates, and pointers for future study in the field in the last Chapter. As Shifmale herself states, Internet memes remajor seriously understudied.

All in all, this book provides a substantial and also easy-to-check out arrival into the civilization of Web memes via a great many kind of examples that will aid readers that are not familiar through contemporary digital society to delve into the topic. Since of its emphasis on both famous society memes as well as political memes, it is equally amazing for scholars from both fields.


Dr Sophie Lecheler is a Marie Curie Research Other at the Department of Government at the and an Assistant Professor of Political Communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Her research focuses on political journalism in the EU and also the results of journalistic news on citizens’ political perspectives and also behaviour. She is currently working on a project on the role of emotions in European political interaction. She tweets at