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Jonathan L. Zittrain, Reflections on Internet Culture, 13 J. Visual Culture 388 (2014).

Abstract: In these edited remarks originally given at ROFLCon in May 2012, Jonathan Zittrain muses on the nature of memes and their relationships to their creators as well as to broader culture and to politics. The distributed environment of the internet allows memes to morph and become distanced from their original intentions. As meme culture becomes more and more assimilated into popular culture, subcultures like those of Reddit or 4chan have begun to re-conceptualize their own role from just meme propagators to cultural producers. Memes can gain commercial appeal, much to the chagrin of their creators. More strangely, memes can gain political traction and affiliation, like American conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly’s ‘You can‘t explain that’ or Anonymous’ ‘Low Orbit Ion Cannon’. Can meme culture survive becoming not just the property of geeks and nerds, but part of the commercial and political world?