The Civic Beat Goes to SXSW

Ben Valentine will be representing The Civic Beat at SXSW! Photo remixed from Shashi Bellamkonda.

Ben Valentine will be representing The Civic Beat at SXSW! Photo remixed from Shashi Bellamkonda.

I am so pleased to announce that I will be speaking on a panel at SXSW Interactive this coming March on a subject perfect for The Civic Beat: The LOLs of Nations: Understanding Global Memes. Tackling this exciting and fun topic with me will be panel organizer, Andres Monroy-Hernandez of Microsoft Research, Elena Agapie at Jet Propulsion Lab, NASA, and J. Nathan Matias of the MIT Media Lab. Together we’ll be covering memes from Mexico, East Africa, Romania and the U.S. and asking these questions:

1. What are some of the most popular internet memes outside the U.S.?
2. How are internet memes used for political dissent and support internationally?
3. How do internet memes travel across borders and cultures?
4. How do internet memes function an alternative discussion channel parallel to other media?
5. How does U.S. “memeperialism” look like elsewhere in the world? why are US memes still so pervasive outside the US… or are they?

Candigato Morris is a Mexican meme of a cat that ran for mayor, who is now creating a political party and one of many memes from around the world we will explore at SXSW

I already wrote a little about the panel on Medium, but I’d like to reiterate a little here now that we’ve been accepted. Although memes are just one aspect of net culture of which I am deeply fascinated, I am excited to see them getting more attention as of late. I don’t think anyone who is following The Civic Beat isn’t already convinced that memes are an important aspect of contemporary communication meriting deeper investigation, but I know very few people who are looking at memes as both political tools and with an international focus as The Civic Beat is, and as this panel for SXSW will.

Memes are an exciting internet vernacular that are rarely tied to any corporate platform – they are an increasingly complex and exciting netizen tool growing in use throughout the web. This panel will examine memes in the broadest possible context, treating them as cultural artifacts arising from a myriad of locations and intentions. This is exactly what The Civic Beat is committed to doing, and I am so honored and excited to bring our work to SXSW.