Makr.io is a new site that probably could make creating an Internet meme any easier. It lets you grab anything off the web, or remix other memes on the site. I didn’t see anything high school classroom inappropriate there, but I’d imagine that could change quickly.
You might be asking: What is an Internet Meme? And how could I use it in school?
What is an Internet Meme?
Instead of reinventing the wheel, here are a few explanations from around the Web…
From About.com (this is just an excerpt, and there’s a lot more info at the site, including a list of the most popular 40 Internet Memes of the last fifteen years):
Answer: A “meme” is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. A meme (rhymes with “team”) behaves like a flu or a cold virus, traveling from person to person quickly, but transmitting an idea instead of a lifeform. According to Cecil Adams of theStraightDope.com, the concept of memes “is either really deep, or really, really obvious”.
Historically, a meme is a discrete “package of culture” that would travel via word of mouth, usually as a mesmerizing story, a fable/parable, a joke, or an expression of speech. Today, memes travel much faster than simple speech. As internet email forwards, instant messages, and web page links, memes now travel instantly via the Internet.
Most modern internet memes are humor-centered (e.g. Rickrolling, Ask a Ninja, Lolcats, Domo-kun, More Cowbell, Numa Numa Dance). Humor usually reaches the most people, and is the most attractive to forward to others. But many internet memes are also about shock-value and drama (e.g. Angry German Kid, Dogs Go to Heaven). Other memes are urban myths that tout some kind of life lesson (e.g. The Littlest Fireman, Mel Gibson and Man Without a Face, Kurt Warner). A few internet memes are about deep content, and involve social commentary and intellectual absurdity (e.g. Flying Spaghetti Monster, Russell’s Orbiting Teapot). In a few cases, a meme can become a conversational expression as well as a viral curiosity (e.g. ‘You Mad Bro‘. In every case, a package of culture or personal experience spreads between people in a virus-like fashion.
How could I use it in school?
Now, this is a question I hope readers can help answer. One idea that’s come to mind is wondering if my IB Theory of Knowledge students could come up with some memes that would related to what we’re studying. That could be a fun and creative assignment that students could do, especially right before a vacation break!
Love this idea…can’t really think of any “hardcore” educational uses for it other than it LOOKS FUN. 🙂 Hmmm…I’m thinking maybe a meme contest in my Anatomy class. Who can come up with the best meme related to a particular body system, organ, etc.
I think that would be a great assignment, and would love to see them if and when you do it….
Contemporary info-literacy must involve memes (or memetics) as to how information/ideas spread and why this is important.
I think it would be good to first start with non-Internet memes that kids could relate to (or how information spread before the Internet). One that I remember as a kid (on the playground) was the rumour that Bubble Yum had ‘spider eggs’ in it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bubble_Yum – the brand actually had to put out an ad in the NYT to dispel the rumour.
I might then go to (select) sites on ‘Know Your Meme’ (some content not appropriate for kids) or just give students the story behind popular memes. http://knowyourmeme.com/
For instance, with David after the Dentist – supposedly the dad meant to hit ‘private’ vs. public, and because of this ‘mistake’, a meme was created.
To go further with this one (and other such as ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’, ask students what they think are the characteristics that make a meme ‘sticky’ (Gladwell). It would be an interesting seque into persuasive writing/creating.
You could also look at something like ‘Casually Pepper Spray Cop’ and discuss why in this case the meme was important (politically, legally, from a POV of justice, etc.).
When stories in the mainstream media often are forgotten in a day or two, memes allow the spread of important ideas to happen well after they may have been forgotten.
Anyways … just a few ideas.
Great ideas, Alec! Thanks.