Category Archives: Computer & Internet

IAMCR accepted presentation about “Internet memes as a form of public opinion expression”

The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) has accepted my submission about Internet memes and public opinion for presentation at the annual conference in Montreal in July 2015.

Internet memes are a popular phenomenon in present-day Internet communication. Internet memes are images, short video clips (or animated images in the .gif format), often containing catch phrases and additional captions. They are spread via email, web sites, blogs, discussion forums, and social media. If a meme ‘goes viral’, it reaches a large number of people in a short time. Recipients of memes sometimes alter the content or use the meme in new contexts, thereby contributing to the publicity of the underlying idea.

My presentation focuses on the societal function of memes as a form of public opinion expression. Internet memes often refer to popular culture, computer games or jokes. However, there is a considerable number of memes addressing societal conflicts (such as feminism, racism, religious extremism, or the anti-vaccine movement) or general issues of social relevance (such as the role of science for humankind). Other memes directly address issues of a political nature, such as the wars in the Middle East and the Ukraine, terrorist attacks, and political debates in the U.S. and other countries. Moreover, there is a large area of memes indirectly addressing issues of public importance such as international understanding, or human mating rituals.

This paper presents a review of typical memes related to public opinion. Examples for the analyzed memes in this category include a meme making fun of IS terrorists, one on gender-neutral restrooms and one demanding free condoms for everyone in order to prevent diseases. Potential effects on internet users’ perception of the climate of opinion as well as the role of memes for the concept of a worldwide public opinion are addressed.

Journal Article about Wikipedia and breaking news published

My Article about Wikipedia as a gateway for breaking news has been published in Studies in Communication | Media (SCM). There is a three-page extended abstract in English for my international readers. The complete article is written in German and titeled “Enzyklopädie-Amateure als Amateur-Journalisten: Wikipedia als Gateway für aktuelle Ereignisse.”

The gist of the article is that amateurs who try to write an ancyclopedia sometimes have to deal with the duties of professional journalists. When notable events unfold (such as catastrophes, terrorist attacks or elections), Wikipedia’s authors have to cope with several problems like uncertainty of available information or contradicting sources. Many users of Wikipedia object the quick publication of articles about breaking news.

My article analyzes some of the disputes within the community and discusses examples of Wikipedia’s performance in dealing with unfolding events. Basis for the analysis is the gatekeeper theory. Using Wikipedia’s (German) article about the Loveparade disaster of 2010, I develop the concept of second-level gatekeeping.

Updated 2015-02-02