With the exception of a small work-vacation in Portland (gratuitous Put a bird on it joke here) for the great and educational ROFLCon Summit - at which we three hosted panels but did not perform an official MemeFactory show - MemeFactory Enterprises have been hard at work crafting what is possibly the longest opening sentence to a Kickstarter update EVAR. Also: WRITING THAT BOOK YOU'VE BEEN HEARING SO MUCH ABOUT. :D
If you've been paying attention you probably noticed that our promised deadline came and went with nary a book release. If we've learned anything during this whole process, we've learned that writing a book is hard. And slow. But an extreme amount of fun! But also hard. We're working with the folks at Breadpig to figure out our perfect new-release-date-which-we-promise-to-stick-to-for-real-this-time-maybe. It's looking like around the end of January. Of course we'll keep everybody in the know. <3
So Many Ideas!
The three of us are all 2-or-more complete chapters deep at this point. If you happen to have access to the research wiki ( http://memefactory.org/research ), please do come and hang out with us. Comment! Send us emails if you don't like comments! Stop us on the street and tell us we're bad at grammar! We've learned through this process we're all very bad at mixing our tenses so those second, third, fourth and fifth eyes are always helpful.
For funsies, what follows are a few selections in various states of completion for those without access:
Patrick's Animal Economy
Patrick is working on a chapter about the Animal Economy of internet videos. He recently gave a talk at Web2.0 Expo about his research for this chapter!
Below we have reproduced a section from one of Patrick's other chapters tentatively titled Faces and Paralanguage:
In the thirty years following 1982, the number of methods for communicating online would go through the roof, but the vast majority of the bulletin board's successors would fall into one of three categories: post, message, or chat. Those individuals termed "digital natives" have grown up with these split modes of communication all around them, and have likely internalized the differences between them, but making said differences explicit is useful.
the Post -- most similar to the bulletin board ancestor, the Post is defined by being slow and public. Posts can be in dialogue or stand-alone, and can be truly public or just semi-public (public to a small community). The comments left of blogs are Posts, the discussions held on Wikipedia talk pages are Posts. Forums are made up entirely of Posts.
the Message -- essentially as old as the bulletin boards in question, the Message is defined by being slow and private. The vast majority of what we think of as Messages are emails. They are direct communications between two individuals, and often recreate the structure of old offline letters. While email tends to be viewed as a sort of basic feature or utility of the internet, numerous other companies and services have developed more proprietary versions of the Message -- Facebook, LinkedIn, even Flickr. Essentially any website/service that promises a social experience comes complete with its own method for sending Messages.
the Chat -- the youngest of the three, the Chat is defined by being fast and private. The earliest popular example was IRC (internet relay chat) but the form was ultimately popularized by AOL's Instant Messenger. This software brought the Chat into the lives of the most important group: teenagers and children. Since then the Chat has been integrated into other contexts. It piggy backs on top of Gmail and Facebook, and with the advent of smart phones the text message has become simply another instance of the Chat.
(Okay, okay...we have fast/slow and public/private, but no explanation as to what is fast and public? As gross as it may sound, fast & public is probably best defined as the Tweet, and is the youngest of all of the forms.)
Stephen's Thoughts On Trolling
Stephen is currently working on a chapter about trolling. Here is a brief little snippet:
A popular phrase of recent memory is “The Internet Is Serious Business.” This catchy little number means both itself and the opposite of its literal meaning simultaneously.
It is a warning - a warning that the internet is full of nightmarish awfulness: pictures, video, and text that will upset you, things so terrible that they may haunt you forever, things that cannot, as is also often said on the internet, “be unseen”.
It is also a note of encouragement, of reconciliation: nothing that happens on the internet really matters. Internet is Serious Business? Whatever anyone says or does to you on the internet, you’re the same you that sat down at the computer. Nothing of any significance has changed. And this is why, through one reading, the troll could be viewed as a kind of benevolent joker - fall in to his trap and suffer, but perhaps the suffering will grant you the epiphany that none of it really matters.
The internet is a game we're playing, and trolls torture those who forget.
Mike's Coming of Age of the Animated GIF
And finally I've just finished a chapter on the short but tumultuous history of the Animated GIF. Here are some of the final thoughts presented in that chapter:
As we have become more comfortable with the web, we have become more comfortable with the animated gif. And as the lines between text and image blur even further we see more creative uses of the animated gif (and other image formats) as illustration and sometimes even replacement for text-only sentiments. On platforms like Tumblr it is not uncommon to see posts made up almost entirely of animated gifs - maybe strung together with some conjunctions and appositive phrases here and there - which tell an entire story in moving images.
Tom Moody, a digital artist who makes GIF related works, is often quoted as describing the animated GIF as "ubiquitous mini-cinema". While the descriptor may verge a little on the hyperbolic, the claim does hold at least a little water and gets us started down a path to figuring out why we all love the GIF so much.
Until Next Time!
Thats all for now. As always, you can keep up to date with all the details of our work on twitter (@memefactory, @mikerugnetta, @str1cken, @patrickdavison). Feel free to drop any of us a line to say hi, otherwise you'll hear from us once there's more news to report.