Logics: The Fundamentals of Memetic Participation (Nov. 14, 2017 Presentation Notes)

What is a meme?

  • Founded by Richard Dawkins, 1976
  • A ‘unit of culture’
  • Derived from Mimeme – unit of imitation (eliminate the mi)
  • Spreadability, like a germ

Reintroducing the Meme

  • Cultural ideas are a construction of memes
  • Memetic phrases, videos, performances –> emulating a meme, images

A Conceptual Troublemaker

  • Memetic Theory: memes operate on their own (like germs) and will pass from person to person
  • Going viral
    • Memes need to line up with established linguistics and cultural norms
      • Needs to be used in a participatory way

Fundamental Logics

  • 5 fundamental logics evident in the creation, circulation, and transformation of memetic media


  • Made of communicative media (anything that spreads info) vs. communicative modes (words, colours, etc.)
  • Media: “technologies of dissemination”
  • Modes: “technologies of representation”
  • Multimodality: multiple “semiotic codes” (code of meaning ie. red represents anger) –> what media implies and means in its being
  • Multimodality spurs further remixing
    • To take something and keep transforming it


  • “Meme transmission is subject to continuous mutation, and also to blending”
  • Cultural participation
  • Derivative, yet still its own creation
  • Giving voice/crafting expression


  • Connect with enough participants to inspire iteration from a fixed premise
  • Studium vs. Punctum
    • Studium: you understand the culture it comes from, so you understand it
    • Punctum: personal response  (personal resonance)
  • Caused by juxtaposition, humour, empowerment
  • Hard to track, varies per individual


  • Sense of community, hashtags to private GIF msgs
  • Bridge between individual and collective –> memes don’t really have authors
  • Abstract definition of collective –> ie. a limited number of people created the Kanye West memes –> it is a collective in another sense –> it is a collection of memes
  • Informal gatekeeping practices –> Buzzfeed, 4chan –> moderation


  • Aspect closest to Dawkins meme definition
  • Is everyone a gatekeeper?
    • Depends on the context, however, everyone has the potential to be a gatekeeper
  • Viral spread vs. memes
    • Viral: Spikes and drops
    • Ongoing: Spikes but still stays relevant

How Memes Matter

  • Reappropriation, multimodality, and spreadability
  • Participatory
  • Folk media
  • Conversation and content
  • Every micro-transaction weaves into a larger context
  • Culmination of culture and opinion

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