Posts Tagged ‘meme’

Nerd jokes have become the official mainstream humor. Recently, MIT had it’s first ROFLCon where you could find who’s who of the Internet and accidents masters of the viral world.

In a previous post, I sort of lamented about the silliness of Internet memes and was hoping it will evolve beyond the trivial. But it seems unlikely to happen. Or rather, even if we have intelligent virals going around, we will also have tons of fun and silly odd ball stuff dominating the Internet.

Or how else would you explain this list.

This made me think about the origin of LOLanguage. Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be much information regarding that, and even Wikipedia cites a vague source – Usenet.

Abbreviating phrases is an old phenomena and it doesn’t surprise anyone as to how LOL predominantly stands for Laughing Out Loud. But what’s surprising is the tremendous sub culture it has created.

At the ROFLCon, the men behind the I Can Haz Cheezburger had some interesting things to say, some highlights:

Cats attract girls to the internet. lolcode contributors are 80% male. I can has cheezburger submitters are about ~%60 female.

Cheez has a staff of 8 people.

LOLCats doesn’t help you get dates. {Shocker, I know!}.

Lastly, as I always suspected, LOLanguage started with SMS / Text Messaging.

I started thinking about this and had a slightly nagging feeling for a while now…I kinda felt I have somehow read this funny/silly LOLs before, but I just couldn’t put my finger to it…till I went all the way back to Dickens’ world in The Pickwick Papers. Without further ado, here’s Samuel Weller with his colorful metaphor when he finds someone has marked their coach with Pickwick’s name and Moses before it,

“…vich I call addin’ insult to injury, as the parrot said ven they not only took him from his native land, but made him talk the English Language arterwards.”

That, ladies and gentleman is the world’s first LOL*.

*As far as i know, Of course.

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“A meme can be just about any form of non-genetic information transmitted from person to person: a word, a song, an attitude, a religious belief, a mealtime ritual, an engineering concept.” – Robert Wright, NONZERO – The Logic Of Human Destiny.

Ever since Britain’s World’s angriest atheist invented the idea/phrase meme in 1976 (Yes, it’s been that long!), many people have confused the hell out of me. But it really didn’t have much relevance to advertising till the Internet became home to the hoi polloi.

First amongst meme’s were usually odd stuff, funny photos and jokes that got forwarded endlessly. And some emails with a plea for help. All of which, I am sure, you can’t blame it on ad agencies or their clients. And then things started evolving changing. Lists like THIS can truly show you what it’s all about and also overwhelm you with loads of bullshit.

And that brings me to my main point. Which is, what’s the point of all this?

While adverts have been memes for a very long time, when it comes to Internet meme’s, it has been awful with rare exceptions, here’s looking at you Subservient Chicken and Gorilla Drummer. Every cliché has also been overused when it comes to Internet Online Interactive Viral Digital Web 2.0 Web Plus marketing and advertising and still I get a queasy feeling that we are still on the Interstate and the nearest town is miles away. How many of you are familiar (or even just heard of) with ALL the items on this list? And these are the phenomena.

I also think, memes are quite different from viral advertising. Like Richard Brodie, I consider memes to be building blocks and if brands can be that ‘basic building blocks of our minds and culture’ then we can see some boundaries pushed to a higher plane. This actually happens when it comes to spoofs…for instance:

It’s funny, thoughtful and ironical.

When was the last time we saw an ad signed off by a client that adopts a tone of its consumers? To be fair, it’s easier to throw stones than build a window. There have been instances when big corporations invite consumers to create adverts with some success. That I consider a positive first step, even if it’s a critic or a spoof.

I don’t presume to have any answers to the title questions, except that we do have a long way to go.

A good non advertising meme  is Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle.

Now imagine that being your brand!

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