The Hermeneutics of 4chan: A Deconstructive Analysis of Teh Lulz
May 6, 2009 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Academia must have discovered the Internets by now... right? I'm interested in finding some academic, long-form journalism, or just generally "high-thought" articles about "low" Internet culture, from memes to 4chan to Anonymous to Second Life. Halp?!

What is the psychology of griefing? What makes a meme? If the center is not the center, then... then... who was Phone?! I barely know where to start, and the college reference librarian gave me a bit of a queer look when I asked her for guidance. I attend an academic institution with a prolific number of journal submissions, so if any potential articles are behind a subscription wall, it's entirely likely that I can access them.

On that note, even suggestions as to possible journals that I can comb on my own time would be helpful--I do my work in the natural sciences predominantly, so I'm unfamiliar with the scene when it comes to other disciplines. Any particularly interesting books would also be welcome.

I've already discovered the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, found a few articles from Bonnie Nardi, and am familiar with I Can Haz Research Paper (from the blue, previously). Not to mention the New York Time's take on 4chan, weev, and anonymous. This is first and foremost for my own curiosity, so anything you have stumbled across that you think would be interesting to digest (whether it be interesting because it's genuinely insightful analysis, or so bad that it's good for the lulz) would be great!
posted by Keter to Education (16 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Henry Jenkins's blog sounds like a good place for you to start. He's the founder of the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT and runs his blog rather like a salon, so you could poke around and explore in a lot of different directions. Should be right up your alley.
posted by mayhap at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2009

First Monday
posted by euphorb at 1:50 PM on May 6, 2009

Best answer: Not precisely what you're looking for (although close), but Edward Castronova of Indiana University has written extensively on synthetic worlds.

You might (just maybe!) also be interested in "Exploring the dynamics of blog communities: the case of MetaFilter."

References Related to the Internet & Psychology, as collected by someone at the University of Haifa (Israel) contains a partial bibliography of academic articles on Virtual Communities, Online Groups, & Social Networks.
posted by dersins at 1:50 PM on May 6, 2009

Best answer: also wanted to suggest danah boyd, who has written quite a lot of academic papers, popular essays, and blog posts about this stuff.
posted by substars at 2:09 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

This study was based on ratings observed on
posted by ecsh at 2:14 PM on May 6, 2009

Several graduate students in the Folklore program at UC Berkeley have written their masters theses on internet folklore. I don't know if any of it has been published; you could contact the Archivists and ask though.
posted by expialidocious at 2:28 PM on May 6, 2009

It is really tough for us academics to cover this stuff... why, you ask?

1. We're generally theory-driven and it is tough to deal with this stuff with our existing theories.
2. Publishing takes 4eva.
3. Focusing on a specific thing, like LOLcats, would be tough to do for more than 1 or 2 articles, while something bigger like blogs, would allow for a few years worth of work.

Here's a thesis on uploading dance videos to YouTube
Memes generally
Remix culture

And AoIR is a great organization where a lot of people studying this stuff hang out. ICU DiscourseMarker. Check out their conference programs.
posted by k8t at 2:44 PM on May 6, 2009

My former grad program at Georgetown has a journal with a lot of academic research on internet culture: gnovis
posted by landedjentry at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2009

Susan Blackmore talks about memes.
posted by milkrate at 12:32 AM on May 7, 2009

A couple of very good articles by Olia Lialina about low web design: A Vernacular Web (2005) and Vernacular Web 2 (2007).
posted by dreamyshade at 1:10 AM on May 7, 2009

Gabriella Coleman has a talk called "Old and New Net Wars over Speech, Freedom and Secrecy or How to Understand the Hacker and Lulz battle against the C0$."
posted by deeaytch at 9:01 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: You may want to check out Richard Beck, research psychologist and professor at Abilene Christian University. His blog Experimental Theology often touches on the intersection of 'high' and 'low' culture, particularly with insight into theological exploration:
The title of this space - Experimental Theology - comes from two places. First, as a research psychologist I try to integrate theology with data from the experimental social sciences. Second, many of the essays you will find here are theological experiments, exploratory and provisional essays that do not necessarily represent my views on matters of faith or ethics.
Some highlights to get you started:
-Last year, he did a five-part series on Postsecret (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).
-He's written online books on The Theology of Calvin and Hobbes and The Theology of Peanuts.
-He recently touched on Stuff White People Like as part of his series on 'Hip Christianity' (an exploration of the similarities between Christianity and hipster culture.
-Why Liberals are Funny, unAmerican, and Irreligious on the differences between conservatives and liberals with regard to humor and meta-cognition (i.e., why is Jon Stewart funny and Glenn Beck not?). Follow-up post as Colbert & Meta-Cognition.
posted by puddleglum at 2:07 PM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins studies this stuff. She blogs at ubbernoggin.
posted by cephalopodcast at 3:49 PM on May 7, 2009

Response by poster: Hey all!
Thanks for all the interesting links. Here are a few cool finds I thought I should share with y'all:

Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism -- From EDGE, on why the Hive Mind is the Scariest Thing Ever

Spectacular Interventions in Second Life: Goon Culture, Griefing, and Disruption in Virtual Spaces -- An academic analysis of... Goon raids on Second Life?!

Online Memes, Affinities, and Cultural Production -- Memes from the perspective of New Literacy studies.
posted by Keter at 5:34 PM on May 7, 2009

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