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SXSW Interactive 2014

The LOLs of Nations: Understanding Global Memes

Global memes add snark and commentary to politics. Memes have helped citizens around the world express political support and dissent: from the meme that helped a cat run for office in Mexico, to the goats that parodied Obama’s visit to Uganda, to the Myanmar kitten that people used to protest the cost of cellphone service.
Many memes stay within their culture, but advice animals, lolcats, and rage comics often get repurposed in surprising ways outside their origin.
What are the barriers for cross cultural memes to spread, and what is special about the ones that do? How are goat and cat memes an easier mechanism for people to begin to engage with international politics in an attempt to understand the LOLs?

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  1. What are some of the most popular internet memes outside the U.S.?
  2. How are internet memes used for political dissent and support internationally?
  3. How do internet memes travel across borders and cultures?
  4. How do internet memes function an alternative discussion channel parallel to other media?
  5. How does U.S. "memeperialism" look like elsewhere in the world? why are US memes still so pervasive outside the US... or are they?



Andres Monroy-Hernandez, Researcher, Microsoft Research

Meta Information:

  • Tags: politics
  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Policy and Civic Engagement
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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