What Do You Meme? The Library of Congress Is Starting to Keep Track of the Social Media Phenomenon - NBC10 Boston

What Do You Meme? The Library of Congress Wants to Know

The American Folklife Center aims to document cultural practices and record digital culture, which until recently has been done on paper

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    What Do You Meme? The Library of Congress Is Starting to Keep Track of the Social Media Phenomenon
    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images, File
    This October 4, 2016, file photo shows a Toronto Blue Jays fan holding up a cardboard cutout of the crying Michael Jordan meme before the start of the game against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Wild Card game at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada.

    Well that escalated quickly: The memes that dominate your Facebook feed will soon be etched in America's official historical record.

    The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress has announced the creation of the library's Web Cultures Web Archive Collection, according to an announcement last week. The sampling of memes, reaction GIFs and image macros — funny, often wittily captioned images that are some of the most viral things on social media — represents how communications are increasingly shaped by the internet, the library said.

    "The proliferation of smart phones, tablets and wireless internet connection has positioned networked communication as a space where people increasingly develop and share folklore," said Elizabeth Peterson, director of the American Folklife Center, in a statement. "This effort will help scholars 25 and 100 years from now have a fuller picture of the culture and life of people today."

    The archive will also collect records from websites that use icons like emoji and catalog newly established vernacular, such as Urban Dictionary and Know Your Meme.

    Clerk Pulls Out Machete on Would-Be Robber

    [NATL] Clerk Pulls Out Machete on Would-Be Robber

    A would-be robber armed with a knife had a surprise in store when an Alabama store clerk pulled out a machete in defense. The two's brief knife fight was caught on camera before the clerk runs out to damage the robber's car.

    According to police, suspect Seth Holcomb walked up to the counter to make a purchase. He leaves the store and then comes back in as if to make a second purchase. Then, he pulled out a knife at the counter. What he didn't expect was that the clerk would pull out a machete of his own.

    (Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019)

    The American Folklife Center, created by Congress in 1976, aims to document cultural practices and record digital culture, which until recently was done by printing out screenshots of internet sensations on paper. With the new archive collection on the Library of Congress website, content can be kept up to date and used for research across disciplines.

    "What's happening on the internet — all the situated vernacular, all the creative expression, all the remix, all the slang; every in-joke and hashtag and portmanteau — is folklore,” internet scholars Whitney Phillips and Ryan M. Milner said in a recent interview with a College of Charleston communciations professor who studies memes.