Let’s reflect

RESEARCH, REsearch, reSEARCH, research, re s e a r c  h… r     e  s  e a   r c  h.

These thirteen weeks have been interesting, stressful and a learning experience. As I conclude this research paper, I can reflect on the process as a whole.

Overall, it has allowed my abilities as a researcher to develop further than before. This improvement is based on how I tackle sources, including my own primary data (survey) and from there, how I analyse what I have gathered. As a student, this is incredibly valuable as research is so often a requirement. I used both primary and secondary sources as I wanted to have access to as much information as possible, in regard to this topic. Research isn’t as simple as many would assume. Yes, it includes a search engine of some sort but it also includes the use of accountability, flexibility and integrity.

Accountability refers to a researcher’s duty to the public, including one’s stakeholders and the participants when gathering any form of primary data. In my case, I created a survey as a way of gathering primary information. Prior to beginning the survey I attached a greeting which included an introduction, my key contact details (my email: sm918@uowmail.edu.au, twitter handle: @sophemacy and link to my blog: www.sophemacy.wordpress.com) and this short statement – “By beginning this survey, you’re consenting to your answers being used in this research project”. This is important as a researcher as you’re responsible for making your participants aware of how their data is being used and where their information is published. A researcher is also accountable for how their participants react or respond to the findings which makes your contact details vital so communication can occur.

Another research value to consider is flexibility as it is needed as a researcher. Flexibility coincides with a researcher’s ability to adapt when you don’t acquire what you initially thought or anticipated. For instance, I had to be flexible about the number of survey responses I received. As researchers, we can never be certain of an outcome. Despite posting my link onto Twitter and pinning it directly to my page, responses were still coming in slowly. I then posted it to Facebook and the BCM212 moodle page which allowed me to gather more data. However, this resulted in less than twenty responses overall. As Dr. Kate Bowles stated in a lecture, “We need to develop companion skills: adaptability, and ability to work calmly within uncertainty” (2017). Although, I had a limited number of responses, the responses I did have were detailed and gave me the data which I used in my final report. In Tolerating AmbiguityDugan alludes to how we dislike the feeling of “being uncertain” as we see it as a “liability” but ultimately, we can adapt to the circumstances we are given. This is a fundamental part of the researching process. 

Lastly, the use of integrity is fundamental as a researcher builds from the ideas of others. Within the University of Wollongong’s Academic Integrity Policy it states “academic integrity is foundational to the work of the whole academic community, including students, teachers, researchers, coordinators and administrators” (UOW, 2011). We all have a great responsibility to reference and cite our sources. Throughout this process of researching, I used a separate document to reference directly after finding a source. This made it easier to see where I was getting ideas from and each source’s value to my project. To remain ethical, researchers must uphold the value of integrity. 

Initially, I intended to post regular updates via Twitter for my stakeholders but due to the word limit I used this platform (my blog) instead. Other than that, I followed my communication plan and Gantt chart to the best of my ability. I saw the value in following a schedule as it’s difficult to cram researching into your weekly timetable. The results I gathered and interpreted have been essential to my final report. I followed my initial plan for methodology as I used primary data from my survey as well as secondary sources. Creating a survey online via Google Forms allowed it to be spread quite easily, as simple as copy and paste. I promoted my survey to my stakeholders via Twitter and Facebook. This was beneficial to the process as it gave me more time to research as I wasn’t spending time physically handing out sheets of paper and creating pie charts and graphs myself. Google Forms was a great tool as it would automatically summarise my quantitative results.

I plan to remain updated with memetic theory and its evolution. I’m constantly engaging with memes and literature so I’ll continue to make the connection between them both.

Feel free to read my initial proposal if you wish to know how I began this process.

I’d thought I would end with a meme:

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References: 

 

 

 

 

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Here’s an update

Hello stakeholders, readers, friends…

Surprisingly I’m on schedule with my initial plan despite getting caught up with the latest #dankmemes. I’ve created my survey questions (via Google Forms) but am still awaiting some more responses. However, so far my results have expressed how valuable memes really are to popular culture. Most answers have alluded to a frequent daily meme engagement. One hundred per cent of surveyees have made the connection between ‘high-brow culture’ and literature which was expected. I’ve been happily surprised with my other results and look forward to interpreting and analysing them at a later date.

I’m still researching and finding new sources to use. However, It is a struggle as memetic theory is still a relevantly new topic. I did find a fascinating paper – ‘Victorian Memes‘ written by Karen Bourrier which makes a connection between the Victorian novel as a genre and Twitter.

[It was a good day – I was really excited to read something so similar to my topic.]

Anyway, I’m off. I’ve got to get back to the research…(and memes).

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Please note: my survey is live, please click to participate if you haven’t already. I’d greatly appreciate it!

 

Open your mind to open source

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I watch an episode of Silicon Valley and instantly long to be a tech-genius. The ability to build software from scratch and frequently speak the language of 0’s and 1’s seems to be the ultimate dream…

In the land of open source, there are no gatekeepers and no restrictions placed on users. The people are given the power and could code their own systems if they wish. One can use, modify and adjust the internal system based on personal preference. It is entirely up to the user/s.

Open source encourages three main things for the user (unlike a closed source):

  • Collaboration
  • Modification
  • Customisation

All contributing to how powerful open source systems can be. Take Wikipedia for example. It’s an information goldmine and an open source with thousands of volunteers editing and adding information daily. The organisation of Wikipedia is based on the idea of collaboration with no one formally employed. An initial plan is placed allowing users to follow or evolve the system as they please. The choice is there.

Open source is based on the idea of self governance. There is no hierarchy, the control is handed over and BAM! it’s up to you. I was surprised at this idea as I thought surely there isn’t much of a difference. I discovered how wrong I was when my iPhone died and I needed a new phone. As a struggling student, I looked for the cheaper option. I found the OPPO A57 to be very ideal – under $500, aesthetically pleasing and an open source.

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Ermahgerd?

Fame is an unusual concept based on how society values you. Actors, musicians and the incredibly wealthy are who we see to be ‘famous’. The idea of fame seems to be attractive to the general public, but once you’ve got fame does one still want it? Even as a meme star?

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Reddit, the home to many, many, maannnny memes allows everyday people to be “blessed by the meme gods” and receive widespread attention across the internet. The Ermahgerd Girl is a key example of the consequences of being the face of a meme. Maggie Goldenberger was doing what most 23 year olds do – travelling the world when her face begun to spread across the world wide web. This circulation led to new versions being made, from ERMAHGERD GERSBERMS to popular culture classics such as BERTMERNA new language was formed, using an uncommon “R” sound.

[This week’s reading] Vanity Fair concluded with the fact that Goldenberger felt delighted by the internet “laughing with her at the obviously ridiculous character she was playing—not at her” as well as the great feeling of nostalgia. However, Goldenberger was shocked that many years later she was photographed again, not as a character but of herself whilst holidaying in Hawaii.

[side-note: go Goldenberger for always being on holiday]

This picture under took the same process of circulation but with her real name attached. The picture was getting negatively attacked by internet users and continued to widely spread. This is when the internet ruins its own greatness as all the unnecessary negativity holds power.

So I ask, would you like to be the face of a meme like Goldenberger or these guys?

It seems the ultimate meme formula includes a relatable image to interpret, the ability to caption that image and the image’s durability; to remade over and over.

I re-created The Ermahgerd Girl meme to reflect today’s context:

 

 

Research Proposal: More than just a punchline!

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How many times a day do you scroll past or engage with internet memes? It seems meme culture is rapidly taking over the internet and with no discouragement from the users because let’s face it – they’re entertaining!

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It raises the question – how has communication changed due to the emergence of internet memes?

Visual communication has existed since the Ancient Greeks with their use of pictographs to interact with one another (Haldermann 2014). In today’s world, emoticons and memes are our versions of pictographs. Although, we now text, tweet, message or share with no caves or rocks required.

Memes communicate a message, perhaps even story and if we imagine “memes as a genre” could memes be considered a form of literature? (Ejaz 2016). Literature evolves with society as do memes. The comparison can be made between a meme and a fable as they are both “community-driven, anonymously produced and open to modification” (Ejaz 2016). This idea drove me to choose this topic to research as I am curious about both memes and literature.

Memes embody popular culture in the simplest form, an image. The origin of the infamous ‘meme’ began with biologist, Richard Dawkins in 1976. Dawkins related ‘meme’ to ‘gene’ in an attempt to characterise the small units of culture. They find their similarity based on their “spread”, from person to person (Shifman & Thelwall 2009). Memes are circulated across multiple internet platforms and like genes they experience “variation, selection and retention” (Shifman & Thelwall 2009).

Social media platforms are the main home to the majority of memes across the internet, from Twitter to Facebook to Instagram. Many users rely on these platforms for their daily dose of laughter. Memes allow users to express their sense of self, by sharing, tweeting and retweeting, users can relate to one another without physically communicating. Reddit and YouTube too publish memes, allowing for a wider circulation to occur. Memes are basically inescapable in the Digital Age. Memes allow communication to become “simplified” more so than already (Gerbaudo 2016).

I will require both qualitative and quantitative data in order to fully research this topic. This methodology will give my research project breadth and will assist in answering my question. As I conduct my research, I will acknowledge and respect the ethical standards put forward by the university. Through surveying fellow students from campus, I will be able to gather the necessary information most relevant to the age group of eighteen to twenty five. Those involved will also have the option of anonymity if they wish.

I look forward to delving further into this topic and hopefully uncover new memes as I go! 

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Tweet me your favourite memes @sophemacy

 

References:

  • Davison. P 2012,‘The Language of Internet Memes’, The Social Media Reader, edited by Michael Mandiberg, NYU Press,  pp. 120–134, <www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt16gzq5m.13> Viewed 10 March 2017
  • Ejaz. A 2016, ‘Are Internet Memes a New Form of Literature?’, Quillete, 28 November, <http://quillette.com/2016/11/28/are-internet-memes-a-new-form-of-literature/ > viewed on 10 March 2017
  • Haldermann. J 2014, ‘A brief history of pictograms and ideograms’, Spicy Learning Blog, 11 November, <http://saffroninteractive.com/a-brief-history-of-pictograms-and-ideograms/> viewed on 10 March 2017
  • How memes create social and political change, 2016, MP3, Chips with Everything: The Guardian, presented by Leigh Alexander with Elena Cresci and produced by Matt Shore, commentary from Paulo Gerbaudo and Joel Penney, United Kingdom.
  • Knobel. M, Lankshear. C 2007, ‘Chapter 9: Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production’, A New Literacies Sampler, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, U.S, vol. 29, pp.199-227, viewed 10 March 2017.
  • Siemens. G 2005, ‘Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age’, pp.1-8, <http://er.dut.ac.za/bitstream/handle/123456789/69/Siemens_2005_Connectivism_A_learning_theory_for_the_digital_age.pdf> viewed 10 March 2017
  • Thelwall. M, Shifman. L 2009, ‘Assessing Global Diffusion with Web Memetics: The Spread and Evolution of a Popular Joke’, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 1, pp. 1-4.
  • Zittrain. JL 2008, ‘The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It’, Yale University Press & Penguin UK, pp. 1-10, viewed 9 March 2017.

 

Images:

  1. Janskishimanshi via Reddit 2017, Whomst, image, Daily Dot, viewed 11 March 2017 <https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/best-memes-2017/>
  2. Skinkbaa via Reddit 2017, Trump’s Execuive Order, image, Daily Dot, viewed 11 March 2017 <https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/best-memes-2017/>
  3. Unknown 2017, Definition of Meme, image; screenshot, Google, viewed 10 March 2017 <http://www.google.com.au/search?q=define+meme