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LIVE ONLINE: The meme election

 Mitt Romney's "Binders full of women" was one of the 2012 U.S. election's most prominent memes. (knowyourmeme.com)

If 2008 could be thought of as the first Twitter election, 2012 will go down in history as the election that brought internet memes mainstream.

In recent months, the digital publics have engaged with presidential politics in ways and in volumes never seen before, most notably in and around the party conventions and presidential debates.

Major televised events, like the debates, saw many of us eagerly waiting in front of our computers, mouses ready for that one special soundbyte to drop and be riffed upon, live-giffed, turned into Twitter accounts or image macros: Binders full of women, Laughing Joe Biden, Horses and Bayonets... Big Bird.

"We've developed a kind of meme literacy, a habit of intuiting in real time the potential virality of a speech act -- to hear retweets inside words," wrote Nathan Jurgenson in a New Inquiry essay called Speaking in Memes late last month.

"Retweets, reposts, reblogs, repins, and remixes lead to reporting. The Meme Election 2012 isn't just a matter of what's found in some sticky gif'd-out corner of Tumblr; it also dominates everyday Facebook feeds and news blogs."

Some say that the "memeification" of the 2012 U.S. election made politics more interesting and accessible for younger voters. Others say that the behavior has distracted from important issues and intelligent discourse.

The very success of memes in influencing the political narrative this year has in fact become a meme of sorts itself, and many are talking about what that means for the future of both internet culture and political campaigning.

Thursday at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT on CBC Your News Live Online, we'll be talking to some experts in the fields of web culture and politics.

Join host Lauren O'Neil and our guests via webcam with your questions, comments and opinions.

We'll be speaking with:

  • Tom Rosenstiel, author, journalist, press critic and founder and director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)
    Brad Kim, Editor of KnowYourMeme.com, a popular website dedicated to documenting Internet phenomena
  • Tim Hwang, founder of The Web Ecology Project, The Awesome Foundation, ROFLCon, and former researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Currently a partner at the law offices of Robot, Robot & Hwang.
  • Veronica De Souza, founder of the binders full of women Tumblr and social media professional.
  • Michelle Forelle, graduate student at NYU's Steinhardt school in the Media, Culture and Communication department, currently writing a thesis on how politics live on the internet.


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