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SRSLY PHENOMENAL: An Investigation Into The Appeal Of LOLCATS

SRSLY PHENOMENAL: An Investigation Into The Appeal Of LOLCATS

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LOLCats are so much more than pictures of cats and hilarious captions uploaded to the internet. They are also a window into the unique culture of online community sharing and creating. Until now, there has been no serious academic attempt to study the evolution of the LOLCat.
(uploaded with permission from author, Kate Miltner /http://katemiltner.com/)
LOLCats are so much more than pictures of cats and hilarious captions uploaded to the internet. They are also a window into the unique culture of online community sharing and creating. Until now, there has been no serious academic attempt to study the evolution of the LOLCat.
(uploaded with permission from author, Kate Miltner /http://katemiltner.com/)

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Published by: Scribd on Jun 22, 2012
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 1
SRSLY PHENOMENAL:AN INVESTIGATION INTO THEAPPEAL OF LOLCATS
Candidate No. 31304 Advisor: Dr. Alison PowellDissertation (MC499) submitted to the Department of Media and Communications,London School of Economics and Political Science, in partial fulfillment of the requirementsfor the MSc in Media and Communications August, 2011
 
 2
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
LOLCats wouldn’t be what they are without a ton of people contributing their time, creativity,and enthusiasm. The same goes for this paper, and I’d like to acknowledge a few individualsspecifically.First, I want to thank the 36 insightful, articulate, funny, and generous participants in my focusgroups. You guys make me want to do focus group research for ever.Second, I’d like to thank Dr. Powell for her guidance and patience, and Drs. Banaji, Helsper,and Livingstone for their insight.Third, I’d like to thank Cole Stryker for sending me his unpublished work and giving me theproud distinction of being the first person to cite what will likely be a staple of Internet cultureliterature.Fourth, I’d like to thank BC, LG, LM, AS, and JT for helping to make this year one of the mostfulfilling of my life, and for supporting me when times were tough. The Bear loves you.Fifth, I’d like to thank my Dad for his love, support, and Facebook messages.Finally, I need to thank DB, without whom this dissertation would not have happened. Thank you for calming me down, pumping me up, keeping me grounded, and inspiring me to newheights. I am so grateful for you, my Gallant Sir. Smoosh.
 
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS................................................................................................2
 
GLOSSARY.......................................................................................................................5
 
ABSTRACT.......................................................................................................................7
 
INTRODUCTION...........................................................................................................7
 
THEORETICAL CHAPTER.........................................................................................10
 
Part I: The Context of LOLCats........................................................................................10
 
 Web 2.0 and The Rise of Participatory Culture..........................................................................................................10
 
The Appeal of User-Generated Content........................................................................................................................11
 
Vernacular Creativity and the Production of the Everyday...................................................................................12
 
LOLCats and The Memesphere...........................................................................................................................................13
 
Part II: The Textual Elements of LOLCats.......................................................................14
 
The LOLCat Genre......................................................................................................................................................................14
 
Humor & LOLCats.......................................................................................................................................................................15
 
RESEARCH STATEMENT...........................................................................................17
 
METHODOLOGY........................................................................................................18
 
Preface.................................................................................................................................................................................................18
 
Overview............................................................................................................................................................................................18
 
Research Strategy..........................................................................................................................................................................19
 
Participant Selection: Face to Face Groups....................................................................................................................19
 
Discussion Guide...........................................................................................................................................................................20
 
Stimulus Selection.........................................................................................................................................................................21
 
Summary of Procedures: Face to Face Groups...........................................................................................................21
 
Online Focus Groups: Rationale and Selection............................................................................................................22
 
Methodological Considerations: Online Focus Groups..........................................................................................22
 
Google Hangouts As A Focus Group Tool...................................................................................................................23
 
Summary of Procedures: Online Focus Groups..........................................................................................................23
 
Thematic Analysis..........................................................................................................................................................................24
 
RESULTS........................................................................................................................24
 
The Three LOLCat User Constituencies..........................................................................25
 
Cheezfrenz........................................................................................................................................................................................25
 
MemeGeeks.....................................................................................................................................................................................26
 
Casual Users.....................................................................................................................................................................................26
 
The LOLCat Genre...............................................................................................................26
 
Humor & LOLCats................................................................................................................28
 
“It’s like your sad relative, isn’t it?”: The Appeal of Anthropomorphic Humor.........................................29
 
“Memes are jokes your friends don’t get”: The Role of In-Jokes......................................................................30
 
“They would like that”: Connection Through Creation and Sharing..........................34
 
LOLCats as Emotional Outlet...............................................................................................................................................34
 
Altruism in Creation and Sharing.........................................................................................................................................36
 
DISCUSSION................................................................................................................37
 
CONCLUSION.............................................................................................................39
 
Final words: A note on the value of LOLCats.............................................................................................................40
 
REFERENCES................................................................................................................42
 
APPENDIX A: FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION GUIDES......................................47
 

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Remedy_Land added this note
I really enjoyed reading this pdf
Damien Estreich added this note
What an awesomely in depth look at something I've always just really lol'd at. - Damien Estreich
iloveshoes38 added this note
I am torn between a dibilitating sadness for this assault on the academic world and an overwhelming burning love and admiration for whoever felt that this research was necessary. I am a confused, but midly proud, cheezfrenz.
Greetings, grovy stuff. Hey, psst; -- meow, trumpet and quirk spoken here.

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