PR's Blog

March 30, 2010

tl;dr

Filed under: Uncategorized — perryrobbin @ 1:56 pm

Brevity is often a necessity on the Internet. The meme “tl;dr,” which stands for “too long; didn’t read,” is a notable example of this. Used whenever someone writes a comment, story, blog post, message board post or anything else that loses the attention of the reader, tl;dr lets the author know that they have failed at least one person with their work.

Sometimes it is used simply for a humorous effect. Either way, tl;dr says a lot about how people process the information they gather on the Internet. While space is not ever at a premium on the Internet, that lack of limitations can lead to material that has a very low informational content. One of the reasons Twitter is so popular may easily be that people are forced to put a lot of information into only 140 characters.

A very related meme is “cool story bro,” which says the same thing to a post that is more personal, yet at the same time, still very boring.

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March 25, 2010

Andre the Giant: Does He Really Have a Posse?

Filed under: Uncategorized — perryrobbin @ 2:14 pm

Andre the Giant (real name Andre Roussimoff, a.k.a. Monster Eiffel Tower, Jean Ferre, Giant Machine and The Butcher) is the source behind one of the most popular “real-life” memes, created by artist Shepard Fairey– “Andre the Giant Has a Posse/OBEY.”

The irreverence that is so often associated with a successful meme is easily visible in the sticker below. Thousands of these went up in and around Philadelphia, New York and Providence (Where Fairey went to art school), starting in 1989. This was a sort of pre-internet viral campaign, although the monetization of the meme didn’t happen until years later and the message was oblique.

This meme has been successful for a number of reasons. One is that it is inclusive – if you were putting up Andre stickers, you were part of the posse. And you were often “sticking it to the man,” so to speak, vandalizing property . Another is the respect and adoration that people (at least me) had for Andre, the 8th Wonder of the World.

The most important reason in this meme’s success is probably its customizability. The concept is broad enough and subversive enough where anyone, or thing, could conceivably be made into a similar sticker.

Tony Danza, He's So BOSSY

This meme even inspired me and my friends to make a few stickers in the same vein. While the “Poop Milkshake Has a Posse” sticker might be a little too bleak and gross to post here (as would the “Captain Boner” and “I Like to Eat Garbage (It’s a Lifestyle Choice)” stickers), this sticker of my roommate’s stepfather on a trip to China illustrates my point – these stickers are totally adaptable (and can be made into anyone’s inside joke), which makes them so popular.

March 23, 2010

Massive Memes

Filed under: Uncategorized — perryrobbin @ 1:57 pm

Memes, Internet memes especially, are often like inside jokes. Part of their popularity stems from other people not knowing about them, the element of exclusion makes them more exciting. Memes often start and stay in a specific group. When they enter the larger consciousness, part of the new/interesting/cool/different factor can be lost, especially for the group that nurtured the meme.

Sometimes though, even the people who started the meme probably want it to go away forever:

eeeewwwwwwwwwww.

Memes can occasionally gain strength from their size and popularity. Facebook theme days, for example, become more effective as more people participate. The oldest one I remember is Talk Like A Pirate Day, and they have branched off from there. Some are jokes and/or references to other media, like the upcoming Harry Potter Status Day (which gained 5,000+ followers from midnight last night till 9:30 this morning). Some express sympathy, like status days for Iranian protesters over the summer and victims of the Haitian earthquake this winter.

Status days are work as large memes because they provide a lot of room for individual participation. While the sentiment or theme is set in stone, the actual expression of those concepts isn’t. Their overall purpose is to share in a theme and not much else, which makes room for people to express themselves. And, they are much more interactive than any dancing baby.

March 16, 2010

Macros

Filed under: Classics, Cute, Memes — perryrobbin @ 4:58 pm

An image macro is simply text, usually impact, colored white with a black border, on top of a picture, often of a cat. Making macros is a very simple process and has a very low bar of entry because there is already an infrastructure that supports this meme. Aspiring macro-makers don’t even need photo-editing software or their own sites, as Web sites like www.icanhascheezburger.com offer online, browser-based tools to create and host macros.

lolcat on FB

The image macro meme started with the “O RLY” owl. The owl in the photo was panting when the picture was taken, producing the facial expression that matches so well with the “O RLY” statement attributed to it. This is the backbone of the image macro, that the text always relates, in some way, to the picture.

OH, REALLY?

YA RLY... NO WAIIIIIII

Other keys are that the picture almost always has an animal in it and the text is written in an imperfect style, the way one might assume a cat or other creature would talk. Beyond that, the community on sites like icanhascheezburger and www.failblog.org make the decisions about which macros thrive and which die off.

The openness of this meme is really the most interesting part, because anyone, anywhere, with the right picture of their cat rolled up in a newspaper, can get “internet famous,” even if only for a short while.

Oh, really?

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