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YouTube Research Project – Final Video: Teme Work: Spreadability and Viral Video on YouTube

April 3, 2010

This is my final YouTube video on my research topic Viral Media and Memes.

The title of the video is “Teme Work: Spreadability and Viral Video on YouTube”.


For my YouTube research project I chose to look into the topic of online viral video and ‘memes’, focusing on Participatory Culture within YouTube and how online viral media plays a part in this.
The media and the web have developed such that content is readily available and accessible on-demand. We as media audiences have become media producers, with a shift of power between us the consumers and the professional media industries.
Web 2.0 has made the way for amateur user generated content, particularly in the form of video, to be uploaded and shared across the web with others, creating online participation, collaboration, and a sense of community and connectedness amongst the web’s vast number of users.
Before the Internet and the web, information and ideas were spread by more traditional means such as word of mouth, print, radio and TV. The Internet and the web have become an invaluable outlet for new cultures and new ideas to be born and spread rapidly and in great quantities, becoming ‘viral’, becoming ‘memes’.
Viral media and ‘memes’ are spread throughout the web with the use of social networking sites, email lists, forums, blogs, and in the case of video content, by use of video sharing sites such as YouTube. They are usually of a comedic nature, which makes them so popular as to be considered ‘viral’.
A ‘meme’ is defined as an idea that is spread from person to person through the act of imitation. The term comes from the Greek word ‘mimeme’, meaning ‘something imitated’, or ‘that which is imitated’. Memes are anything that can be spread and copied – words, phrases, clothing, images, videos.
The term ‘meme’ was first coined by Richard Dawkins in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’, published in 1976. He used the term to describe an entity that might be considered a replicator, that is, something that gets copied through the process of self-replication. More specifically, he used it to explain human behaviour and cultural evolution.
Susan Blackmore also adopts this way of thinking. She suggests that we as humans are ‘Meme Machines’, that we are used as ‘hosts’ for infectious cultural ideas to latch on to in order to replicate. She coins a new term, ‘Temes’, for memes created and spread by the use of technology, such as online video memes.
Henry Jenkins believes that ideas and information are not infectious viral objects as Susan Blackmore suggests, he claims that media is not ‘viral’, but is ‘spreadable’, that materials travel through the web because they are meaningful to those who spread them.
In his blog, ‘Confessions Of An Aca-Fan’, Jenkin’s suggests that ‘memes’ do not self replicate, and that people are not susceptible hosts for viral media. I believe this is a more reasonable approach to the subject, as users of YouTube typically post videos to share with others and to participate and engage in the online video community with other users. Users of YouTube uses video memes to share and spread, imitate and re-upload, remix and parody, often to create new spreadable memes.

YouTube Research Draft Video 3

December 2, 2009

Below I have embedded my third draft video outlining my YouTube research (sorry it’s a little bit over 1 minute!)

Images Used: Google Images
Stock.Xchng (stock images)
My own ‘snapshots’ taken using the YouTube website and Screen Capture software

Video Used: Clips from YouTube website taken using Screen Capture software.


A meme is an idea or information that is spread rapidly from person to person through imitation. An Internet meme is therefore such an idea or concept that is spread through the use of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Author Richard Dawkins first introduced the term ‘meme’ in his 1976 book ‘The Selfish Gene’. Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ from the Greek word ‘mimeme’, which literally translates to ‘something imitated’.

Memes gain increasingly widespread awareness and popularity by spreading through various sources such as email, blogs, forums, social networking sites, and in the case of video memes, through online video websites such as YouTube.

Video memes are usually born from online viral videos, videos that have been spread rapidly and in great numbers, like a virus. These virals videos are open to imitation, through remixes, parodies, and direct imitations.

YouTube users can create their own social network within YouTube by use of comments, video responses, channel subscriptions, and the ‘Friends’ feature on the site. By participating in the ‘meme culture’ of imitating and creating memes, users create a sense of community and connectedness amongst themselves, taking part in a participatory culture within YouTube.


I obviously have more to discuss in my research, it’s difficult to squash it all into a 1 minute video. I also want to obviously go into more detail about how memes develop and how they survive, how Internet memes are also present in the ‘real world’ mainstream media (they are not only confined to the Internet), of course the spreadability of memes (as YouTube videos can be embedded into pretty much any website), perhaps discuss more about the participation and interactivity of memes, especially within YouTube (new media and Web 2.0?).

I am also looking forward to the lecture about memes next week to hopefully gain some more insight into the topic.

YouTube Research Project Proposal Draft (revised)

November 21, 2009

Below is a revised version of my first draft research proposal for my YouTube research project into the development of memes.


Title: The Development Of Memes’

For my YouTube research project I intend to research into the development of memes. Some of the topics that I want to explore in my research include:
What are memes? How do they spread? How does YouTube allow for the spread of memes? How do they develop? How do memes encourage participation amongst the users of YouTube? And how have memes developed from within Internet culture and into the “real world” mainstream media culture?
I will be using both primary and secondary research methods to structure my research project. For my primary research I will be using the Internet and the video sharing website YouTube to find examples of memes and to study their development in relation to the questions posed above to help me to gain a better understanding of the ‘meme culture’.
For my secondary research I will be using textbooks and Internet sources, including the textbooks ‘YouTube’ (2009) by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, and ‘New Media: An Introduction’ (2008) by Terry Flew, and an online essay piece written by author Jean Burgess titled ‘All Your Chocolate Rain Are Belong To Us’ (2008). I will be using these to help me to find out more about memes and their development, to help me to structure my own research, and to help to support my own primary research findings.

YouTube Research Project Proposal Draft

November 19, 2009

This is a draft research proposal for my YouTube research project about the development of memes.

Title:   The Development of Memes
For my YouTube research project I intend to research into the development of memes, including how memes form, how they spread and gain increased popularity and awareness, and how they develop through and beyond the Internet and YouTube culture and into the mainstream media culture such as television and print.
I will be using both primary and secondary research methods to structure my research project. To undertake my primary research, I will be using the video sharing website YouTube to find and watch video examples of memes. I will be using these videos to examine and make my own notes on the content of the memes and their imitation counterparts (the many remixes and parodies of the original video) to attempt to gain a better understanding of the ‘meme culture’.
For my secondary research I will be using the textbooks ‘YouTube’ (2009) by Jean Burgess and Joshua Green, ‘New Media: An Introduction’ (2008) by Terry Flew, and ‘All Your Chocolate Rain Are Belong To Us: Viral Video, YouTube and the Dynamics of Participatory Culture’ by Jean Burgess, as well as various Internet web sources, to find out more about memes and their development, to help me to structure my own research project, and to help to support my own primary research.

YouTube Research Draft Video 2

November 19, 2009

Below I have embedded my second draft video for my YouTube research. I am hoping that this draft is more successful at explaining the direction of my research more than the first draft video was.

For my research I want to look into memes, how they begin, how they spread, how they develop through and beyond Internet culture and into mainstream media culture. I also want to include in my research how memes relate to the interactivity and participation of users on YouTube (participatory culture) and social networking of YouTube users.
Users can ‘connect’ with each other through the creation of memes as they allow anybody to get involved/participate by making and uploading their own versions of the meme.

YouTube Research Video Draft 2

Script for the video:

A meme is an idea or information that is spread from person to person via imitation. This, a YouTube meme is an idea interpreted through video, open to imitation by remixes, parodies and direct copies of the video.
Author Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in his 1976 book “The Selfish Gene”. The term was coined from the Greek word ‘mimeme’, which literally translates to ‘something imitated’.
Users create and re-create memes on YouTube to express themselves, to share their interests, and to collaborate with other YouTube users. This begins to create a sense of community and connectness amongst the users of YouTube, demonstrating the participatory culture within the site, and is the basis of social networking.


Images used from Google Images
Video clips from YouTube

More Research Ideas – the Development of Memes?

November 6, 2009

Below I have begun to discuss what I hope to be a more stable approach to my YouTube research:

How YouTube memes evolve?
How they begin, how they spread and how they develop?

Viral video = a video clip that is rapidly spread over the Internet, by way of social networking sites, blogs, forums and email. It becomes ‘viral’ spreading quickly and multipying like a virus.
Internet memes, including YouTube memes (memes that were ‘born’ on YouTube), are often created from popular viral videos.

A ‘meme’ = an idea, or “information”, that is spread from person to person via imitation.
The typical definition of ‘meme’ = ‘something imitated’. The origin of the word ‘meme’ is an abbreviation of the Greek word ‘mimeme’ (pronounced like ‘my-meme’) which literally translates as ‘something imitated’.
Imitation is often in the form of remixes, parodies and spoofs.

Viral video stimulates vernacular creativity in YouTube users to take the original video and replicate all or just parts of it to create something ‘new’ (a remix or a parody of the original video) – but with elements of the original video still present, so that the ‘new’ video created (the ‘meme’) is still associated with the original video.
This is turn attracts participation of other YouTube users where that meme is then re-uploaded exactly as it is in order to increase awareness and popularity of the meme, or it is again remixed or parodied. This creates a participatory culture within YouTube, inviting anyone to create their own versions of the memes and to participate in the ‘community’ of YouTube users.

How a meme develops –
The original video can be anything from a TV or film clip, a news clip, a personal home video, a video blog (or ‘vlog’), or any of the numerous “bedroom culture” videos where users upload videos of themselves singing, dancing, etc in their bedrooms. Once uploaded to YouTube, the video can be shared and spread via any means of communication – email, blogs, forums, and social networking sites to name a few – and soon the video becomes ‘viral’. This leaves the video open to remixes, parodies and direct imitations (Memes).

The evolution of YouTube memes – how they can “cross over” into mainstream media such as TV and print.
Example: ‘LOLCats’ –, as well as many other publishers, have released books about the LOLCats, and LOLCats have appeared on t-shirts, calendars, posters, and other saleable merchandise.
Other YouTube meme “stars” like Zay Tonday (Chocolate Rain), Charlie and Harry (Charlie Bit My Finger), and Gary Brolsma (Numa Numa) have appeared in TV interviews and chat shows.

The lifespan of a YouTube meme – the end?
I believe a YouTube meme will never completely cease to exist, as there will always be somebody who comes across the video who hasn’t seen it before and then will share it and spread it around again to others, but I do believe that after a certain amount of time the video meme will lose some of the interest of the majority of its ‘audience’, especially if it has been around for a long time, or when the next ‘big’ meme is created.

First Draft of YouTube Research Video

November 5, 2009

Below I have embedded a 1 minute first draft video outlining the ideas that I have to undertake my YouTube research project:

For my research, I decided to look into viral video and memes – what they are, how viral video spreads and how quickly, how memes are produced from the original videos, and how memes have “crossed over” into the mainstream media.
The inspiration for this last point came from this ‘Know Your Meme – All Your Base’ discussion video:

I used the ‘Super Screen Recorder’ screen capture software (found here to capture clips from YouTube videos to use as examples of viral videos in my draft video. I wasn’t able to record the audio to these videos using this same software, so I used the ‘Replay Music 3’ software (found here ) to capture the audio. I used Adobe Photoshop to create the text slides, and I used Adobe Premiere Pro editing software to edit the footage, audio and text slides together into my 1 minute draft YouTube video.

Memes crossing over into mainstream media?

November 3, 2009

I found this website with an embedded YouTube video about the ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ video meme, where it came from, how the wide-spread of the video began and grew, and what I thought was particularly interesting – when Internet-born memes cross over into mainstream media such as newspapers. ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ was covered in C.NET, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Daily Mirror and The Register.
As the video (which I have embedded into this post below) states, the ‘All Your Base Are Belong To Us’ phenomenon not only spread through the media, but also into the ‘real world’, as signs were altered and company websites were hacked into (examples shown in the video), demonstrating how much of an impact on society this one video has had.


This made me think how some of the other memes out there have also had such an impact as this one. One example that came to mind was the ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ video, not only has it been re-worked many times with many imitations and remixes alike (there are currently nearly 9,000 videos on YouTube relating to ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ – as of the time of this post, 3rd November 2009), but the video also crossed over into mainstream television, with the stars of the video and their parents being interviewed on the Richard and Judy show.

‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ – Richard and Judy TV Interview:

Zay Tonday who sang the title song in the video ‘Chocolate Rain’ was also interviewed on television, on the Lily Allen and Friends show:

These are examples of how some of these memes have become so wide-spread and well recognised and how they have crossed over from the online video space into mainstream media.

YouTube Research Project – More Ideas

November 3, 2009

As the subject of my YouTube research project I decided to look into how viral video (or “memes” as they are also known by) spreads and how they are ‘remixed’ as they are spread and as they become more well-known and recognised. Also, to look at those videos that have been remixed from the originals and if the remixed videos contain any recognisable elements seen in the original videos. This is still just an idea I have, subject to change.

Some videos that I have been watching and making notes on on YouTube are the ‘Numa Numa’ video (YouTube video embedded into previous blog post), the ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ video, and the ‘Downfall’ meme videos.

‘Charlie Bit My Finger’

A remixed version of ‘Charlie Bit My Finger’

One of the many ‘Downfall’ meme videos on YouTube

A remixed version of ‘Numa Numa’

(Ignore the cheesy high-pitched, sped-up singing/dancing number at the end of the video)

All of these videos plus others that I have been looking at still contain certain recognisable elements from the original videos, as kind of a homage to the original videos.

Initial Research Ideas for YouTube Project

October 29, 2009

I have listed below some of the initial ideas I have for my YouTube project, some of the areas that I might like to explore and research further into to base my YouTube project on.

1) Why people use YouTube, why people all over the world decide to upload home-made videos of themselves, their friends and families, etc, what compels these users of YouTube to do so?

2) The cons of YouTube. For example, copyright laws and infringment, or the fact that once a user uploads a video to YouTube they lose all control over what happens with that video, who sees it and how it might be manipulated.

3) Why some videos uploaded onto YouTube are particularly popular and re-created by others so many times? Example: the “Numa Numa guy” video, one guy (Gary Brolsma) sitting in front of his computer miming along to “Dragostea din Tei”. Or, example: the “Dreams” series of videos, where people have simply filmed themselves talking about their dreams.

The “Numa Numa Guy” video:

The original of this video is said to have over 62 million views, but I have been unable to find the original. The video has been re-uploaded by others several times.