'Know Your Meme' On What It's Like To Be An Internet Folklorist

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The website and show “Know Your Meme” were swallowed up this week by ICanHasCheezburger networks in a seven figure deal, proving once again that Internet memes are serious business. In light of this news, the Know Your Meme crew, Internet folklorists Elspeth Rountree, Kenyatta Cheese, Jamie Wilkinson, Patrick Davison and Mike Rugnetta actually performed an episode of their heralded show live on stage today at Web 2.0 Expo.

The group spoke in turns and seemed to have rehearsed (just like on their show) when describing the process of creating and documenting what many people consider to be “worthless” Internet culture. They likened themselves to music ethnographer Alan Lomax, who according to them was once told as a boy to burn a transcription of cowboy songs by a teacher because they were useless. Lomax later ended up chronicling the songs and lives of artists Woody GuthrieLead Belly and Muddy Waters.

Key takeaways:

“In digital spaces the tool for communication and the tool for documentation are the same thing, the computer.”

“We are in a constant state of lightweight pervasive self-documentation and media creation.”

“The problem of too little data is nothing compared a slightly newer one, too much data.”

“Good internet culture leaves digital detritus, tweets, likes, comments, retweets, reblogs, news articles, and even the occasional appearance on national television (THE HOLY GRAIL).”

“Culture isn’t just valuable when you can stuff it full of DRM and sell it.”

“Throughout history humanity has struggled to be the first to do meaningless activities.”

Those interested in learning more can support the Know Your Meme Kickstarter book project here.