How to Make Meme Collections


Given their prevalence in a contemporary digital society, memes hardly need an introduction. They pervade playful social media and are also produced and shared in abundance around elections, protests, and social movements. Much of the scholarship surrounding memes takes as its point of departure that they are collections of artefacts, rather than single pieces. Practically speaking, their study thus relies on making meme collections. In the following, we show how to make meme collections by querying and extracting memes from four key sites: the meme database Know Your Meme, the web search engine Google Images, the meme host and generator Imgur, and the Facebook marketing dashboard CrowdTangle. Thereafter, we unpack these collections using two software applications and methodologies (image similarity grouping and computer vision) in order to make the point that each site shapes the kind of collection that is made. More starkly put, each site or online environment affects the conceptualisation as well as the composition of the meme collection gathered in that the formats and sources vary per platform.

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