The Structure of a Meme is Key

A meme is simply a piece of digital content, which is quickly spread around the Internet and becomes a cultural experience that is shared (units of culture). Memes are known for their entertainment value but they should be taken seriously due to their marketing, advertising, and public relations advantage.

Memes are relevant to digital media and communications because marketers can use them. Marketers use memes as a form of viral marketing. This form of marketing is known as memetic marketing. Memes are trendy and lucrative. The use of memes results in awareness. Memes have been used to create interest in films, campaigns, and advertisements.

Memes are popular in contemporary Internet culture  (participatory culture) because they allow for people to self-create and add new value to media content they find meaningful, which can be spread by many people.

A successful meme is one that entails communication properties of which the original meme can quickly and easily be distorted, transformed, and repurposed as it moves through the Internet while retaining its informational content. A successful meme is one that provokes manipulation by a large variety of communities who then can offer a great quantity of new contexts to expand meaning as it’s duplicated.

Memes are neither primarily visual nor linguistic; both must be equal in presentation and its ability to be adapted. The structure is of most importance. The combination of both visual and linguistic texts is necessary to construct the message.

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This meme I’m sure a lot of people can relate to, whether in a work or school environment. The image implies the disgust the person who did the work feels towards the person who did not contribute, but appears to be taking credit for the presentation’s success. The texted adds to the structure in getting the message across to its audience.


How Would I Teach a Lesson in 11th Grade Civics?

If using a fully digital curriculum, my lesson on Civics would include the use of multimedia. I would begin by developing a website to aid in the arrangement of lesson activities. The Site will include a logical progression of links to all content and material to be covered.


Students will follow links on my Site to obtain Presentations of lesson material created through software, such as, Prezi and/or PowerPoint. Following the link for Presentations will be links to Websites and podcasts with relevant information. I would provide a link for a class blog, which will be set up to resemble a newspaper for students to build upon lesson material. I would manage a threaded discussion board to be used by students for the engagement of discussions and development of opinions with peers.

First, I would be sure to use materials that are not only very thorough but also historically accurate. I would ensure that the content and materials used enable my students to read and write brief responses to the content I provide.

Second, Students would be required to analyze documents and answer questions about the content emphasized in the documents in a threaded discussion board, which will allow for me to check the students’ understanding.

Say for instance, I deliver a Presentation on Marbury v. Madison. I would then provide students a link to where they can obtain an overview of this landmark case. I would then provide a link to the podcast “60-Second Civics: Episode 2042, We the People, Lesson 21, Part 4: Marbury v. Madison explained” found on the Site

After the basis for Judicial Review is established, students will follow a link to a current news article, which provides relevant information about how this case has influenced court decisions in other cases (Brown v. Board of Education). Students will then apply what they have learned to create an article for the class blog and will tell the story of how judicial review was used in Brown V. Board of Education.

Finally, students will use the threaded discussion board to express their opinions and potentially debate their findings relating to both cases.

Folk Art and Digitization

Folk art has always been a means of cultural expression. Folk art reflects how groups, whether ethnic or regional, share their identity through authentic creative expression. Individuals typically create folk art with no formal education relating to their artistic talent but rather through participation (self-taught). The idea of folk art has changed as technologies (digitization) have influenced the creative process. Two prominent examples are photography and music.

Photography is a folk art, which has been used by individuals to capture moments and places that identify their community, family, friends, and reflection of self. The advent of Photoshop, filters, and the like has changed the way one enhances their photographs. Props and settings no longer are of much concern when considering how well the creator can alter them. Take for instance this photo. After spending the day with my daughter, I created this photo to reflect how I viewed her take on the world. This was accomplished by the use of multiple photos taken throughout our day.

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To express my view of her, as I at times call her my Mediterranean princess, I created the photograph below.

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Of course, she is not actually a princess or Mediterranean at all, but I was able to capture in this creation my very own artistic expression using tools in Photoshop. This is my folk art. I was not trained in photograph or art, yet I was able to create and express my views through the use of digitization. To build an audience to share in this creative expression, platforms like: blogs, Facebook, Vine, and Snapchat come in handy.

Today, many people can create their own photographic folk art and many do so daily using apps like Instagram, which provides filters for creators. For those wishing to expand their audience in this way, Instagram is a great platform.

Music as folk art has taken on many forms. DJs for instance have taken music to a whole new level as they mix music. This is folk art that is representative of the culture today. No longer is folk art created by a person and their guitar, fiddle, or drums, but through the use of software that digitizes sounds and allows for the restructuration of bits and bytes. DJs and other amateur artists can distribute their mixes on platforms, such as, YouTube and MySpace. They can even have their mixes made available on iTunes to reach niche communities in the Long Tail.

Transmedia Storytelling is Creative Opportunity

Transmedia storytelling is geared toward maintaining audience interest through the creation of art allowing for creative opportunity. Media companies reap the benefits of fan culture and implement transmedia storytelling to do so. This is not necessarily done to create more commerce but rather to continue capturing audience support.

NBC and Metrodigi have already begun the process of transmedia storytelling with the show Grimm. Their collaboration resulted in the creation of an eBook titled Grimm: The Essential Guide , which enables fans to: poke through the various artifacts contained in a trailer that had passed on to Nick Burkhardt (the lead character) from his Aunt Marie, view behind the scenes activity, browse the most complete compilation of Wesen creatures, and use an interactive glossary of terms to understand the Grimm universe. To bring every fan up to speed, the guide provides viewers with interactive photo galleries, videos, quizzes. However, this is just a small step toward expanding its transmedia storytelling. While being interactive it lacks a real avenue for participation.

In Henry Jenkins “Convergence Culture”(2006), Jenkins defines participation as being shaped by cultural and social protocols where consumers not producers are in control. Interactivity is limited by technology and designers structure the environment provided. Participation on the other hand allows consumers to interact in the production and distribution of material.

Character backgrounds have already been established but entry points should be open for consumers to expand the story. I say this because the show lacks interesting dialogue even though the characters are entertaining. Clearly, the show could benefit from its consumers contributing to plot holes. We want to know where Adalind Schade’s baby is and what Nick’s mother is doing with her. This is where additive comprehension could come into play.

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Jenkins mentions additive comprehension, which is described by Neil Young, as “the expansion of interpretive possibility that occurs when fictional franchises are extended across multiple texts and media. As previously mentioned, we have an eBook but an avenue for animation production would be an important extension in creating scenarios that would draw continued interest in its fan culture. Creating a experience where fans can construct stories for these plot holes will keep them engaged. Another alternative would be for producers to promote a Wesen newspaper where fans contribute stories for plot holes. Grimm could build off the stories to better entice fans and inevitably contribute to the show’s success.


The Future of Broadcast Television

Let us think about the future, the future of broadcast television ten years from now. What may we expect to see?

First, it is likely that we will see broadcast television come to an end. After all, it was not very long ago when we witnessed a push to end governmental support for PBS—one of the most important television stations for news and educational programs. Within the next decade it is likely that PBS may no longer be available to the American public leaving many with low income unable to attain exposure to educational programming for children (Word Girl, Martha Speaks, Sesame Street, and Wild Kratts), the arts, history, and science (Nova, Nature, American Experience, and American Masters), and news programming (Frontline and NewsHour). Local news can be accessed online and FaceBook make it possible to keep up with local news stories. As the Digital Divide narrows and becomes obsolete broadcast television will no longer serve a purpose.

Second, Smart TVs and tablets made it possible for typical television viewers to access YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, and many other apps allowing for one to gain access to programs available on broadcast networks. This will be the future of television viewing. The Internet will more than likely be responsible for the decline of broadcast television. More and more we bear witness to households canceling cable television subscriptions to the benefit of instant streaming.

Television via Internet will allow for viewers to participate with knowledge communities leading the way. The future of television will be one of which the viewers decide on content to be aired and access will be obtained without a time restraint. This will make it difficult for media conglomerates to address but if it is recognized already then they can begin planning now for their monetization of programs. They may charge per channel or per program. It will be interesting to see how this will actually play out. Even now many viewers select to pay per season or episode on apps like Amazon and I believe it is highly likely that broadcast companies will follow suit. How will this affect the ethical lines of production and marketing manipulation?

Well, the effects of production and marketing manipulation on ethics have already shown us that broadcasters serve their own means.

Ethics in production and marketing manipulation seem to be missing in broadcast television already so there is no reason to assume that the ethical line will even exist a decade from now. This is why it will be even more important that knowledge communities have more say in what is produced and how society can be marketed too.

What is Convergence Culture?

Henry Jenkins, author of “Convergence Culture” (2006) defines convergence culture as “where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways.”

Computers, cell phones, and the Internet encourage almost limitless communication providing opportunities for a new cultural experience. Convergence culture is representative of a cultural shift where consumers encourage information and connections dispersed among various media platforms. The result is participatory culture. No longer can the consumer be described as simply a passive spectator, but rather a participant who interact with media producers. When consumers take information from the media and use it for social interactions with other consumers then an incentive is built to continuously talk about the media resulting in collective intelligence. French cyber-theorist, Pierre Lévy is credited with coining the term collective intelligence. Conversations amongst consumers are a collective process valued by media industries.

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Media industries gain more power by using these conversations for advertising purposes and to build their fan base. This has changed the way media is produced and the way it is consumed.

One example of convergence culture between the television industry and consumers is the NBC app. In this app a consumer is able to further their viewing participation. Take for instance the NBC’s show Grimm. Viewers are able to visit the “spice shop” and uncover secrets. By clicking on highlighted items details about objects used in the show are revealed to entice viewers. Viewers can also tour the Grimm set. You can even view creature profiles and explore Nick’s books. This encourages fans to talk and predict what will happen in the upcoming shows on their fandom Sites. The feedback on such Sites allows for producers to understand their audience and thus construct future shows   to keep their audience coming back for more.

Instantaneous Cycles

Created by Videology
Created by Videology

Television news cycles have changed drastically since the advent of 24-hour news cycles. News broadcasters once had a limited number of minutes to present their agenda to the public. Now 24-hour news cycles enable news broadcasters to bring instantaneous news to our homes. The news has always been held in high regard by viewers. Now, with instantaneous news cycling on the rise, viewers who may not understand how the news media now works are left questioning the media’s intent.

As events unfold, news broadcasters now pass along information as they receive it. This is not what I consider to be an improvement. I remember watching the news as the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy unfolded. The news stations with their instantaneous reporting were passing misinformation on to the public. Instead of taking the time to get the facts in order news broadcasters were spewing whatever information came to them and their viewers were taking it all in as fact. It’s no wonder there are so many conspiracy theorist questioning whether this incident actually took place.

Instantaneous news cycles account for one of the many changes in which one watches television. Technologies have changed our relationship to television as well. Streaming Internet television, satellite and cable providers now allow for instantaneous viewing of movies, documentaries, and television shows. No longer does one have to be tied to a broadcasters time slot. American culture as represented in this medium is one of instant gratification.

The future of American culture and television will follow along the same path it has adopted with instantaneous viewing. Currently, people do not typically view things at the same time anymore. In the next decade people will continue to adopt technologies where external schedules will not be imposed. I would not be surprised to see external schedules for viewing television come to an end. It will be exciting to see broadcasters adapt as change continues in the viewing habits of American culture.

American Society and the Book

I often wonder if printed books will disappear altogether from American society. The production of e-books definitely supersedes that of printed books today as e-readers and tablets have become more prevalent among American society. Whether or not members of American society seek to read books via print or electronically should not be indicative of literacy.

10390109_566617520141443_4422742055705219556_nWhat could be indicative of a decline in literacy is the fact that the percentage of Americans reading a book has declined. Pew Research revealed that 25% of American adults had not read even a single book in the year 2013. This is believed to be a consequence of American culture turning to TV and the Internet rather than books.

The number of adults who had not read a book is still a great deal less than the 75% who had. That is fantastic news. Even better, a NEA 2012 survey found that the decline of young adults reading for pleasure has not continued on a downward slope. So, there is hope for American literary culture.

Harper Lee is due to release the novel “Go Set a Watchman” which was written before her “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The release of this novel has generated a lot of attention this past week leaving me to assume that America is still a literate society. While pondering about how well this novel will be bought up, I am left to wonder if traditional book-length works will survive in a society where culturally we no longer find the time to sit through a traditional book-length novel (100,000+ words). After all, this is a time where smartphones take up a majority of just about anyone’s time. That being said, it may be inevitable that traditional books fall behind the new wave of micro-fiction, flash-fiction, and short stories in the future.