Katie Milner of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has written the most awesome dissertation of all time (pdf at link). Here’s the cover page:
Normally I would say, “Geez, they’ll give a degree for anything these days,” but hey, it’s about LOLcats! Some of the humor is intentional, some unintentional, but I recommend Appendix G for your delectation. Here’s the summary:
LOLCats are pictures of cats with misspelled captions that have become a genuine cultural phenomenon. LOLCats are often considered to be the archetypal Internet meme, a piece of often entertaining cultural currency that spreads rapidly through social networks and media platforms. However, unlike most Internet memes whose potency tends to wane after a short period of time, LOLCats have remained relevant and popular for the better half of a decade, inspiring a devoted following. Despite their position as a hallmark of participatory culture, LOLCats—and Internet memes in general— have been largely ignored in academia. This study sought to address this shortcoming through an exploratory, audience-oriented examination of LOLCats’ appeal. In light of the user-generated and social nature of the LOLCat phenomenon, focus groups were conducted to investigate the ways in which the textual and social aspects of LOLCats contribute to their allure. The research revealed that the LOLCat audience is comprised of three separate groups that interact with and appreciate LOLCats for different reasons. The study also confirmed that LOLCats are operating as a genre, and that the appropriate execution of that genre is central to their enjoyment. Furthermore, it became evident that for most participants, LOLCats’ appeal rests in the intersection of the textual and the social, as exemplified by the use of textual and generic elements such as Lolspeak to perform social functions like establishing in-group boundaries. Additionally, despite the fact that LOLCats are a form of publicly circulated UGC, these groups revealed that many LOLCats are created or shared for the purpose of interpersonal communication and emotional expression. Ultimately, LOLCats are funny pictures of cats; however, the ways in which they traffic in fundamental human needs like belonging and emotional expression are no laughing matter.
Whatever. I just go there for the pictures.
h/t: Grania Spingies