The most awesome thesis of all time

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:

ABSTRACT
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

28 Comments

  1. hossiet
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Is any of this published yet in a peer-reviewed journal?

    • Enkidu
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      That should be “pier revue – d”

      • suwise3
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Purr-reviewed?

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      Purr-review is a hairy question.

      Either they will claw for possessing it. Or they will simply disdain it.

  2. still learning
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    “I just go there for the pictures.” Don’t we all?!

    I’ve seen commenters using LOLspeak, not knowing its origins. So, Ms. Milner is on to something.

  3. Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    “Normally I would say, “Geez, they’ll give a degree for anything these days,” but hey, it’s about LOLcats!” And much more relevant than any degree in theology!

  4. daveau
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Whatever. I just go there for the pictures.

    Three, no, FOUR separate groups. I’ll come in again…

  5. Wildhog
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    “LOLCats have remained relevant and popular for the better half of a decade”.

    Whoa! serious staying power!

    • daveau
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Ahh, youth! (And its lack of perspective)

    • PB
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      .. half a decade? I thought I heard two millenia!@
      :D

  6. John K.
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    I never really noticed how long LOLCats have been around. They do indeed seem to have an exceptional staying power.

    Clearly, all your base no longer belong to us.

  7. Steve
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    One of the longest running ones has to be the one with the dude attached half naked to some wooden pole thing, wearing some thorny head attire. You see that everywhere!

    • gravelinspector
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m having a job to picture what you mean. Are you referring to Goatse? (no link!)

  8. Greg G
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    “The surest way to kill a joke is to explain it.”

  9. Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I’m with you – I just go for the pics (Ceiling Cat as well, of course – & Basement Cat…)

  10. Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Srsly?!

  11. daveau
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    What would put it over the top is if it was written in LOLspeak.

    • Ken Pidcock
      Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Well, there’s a job for ya. Show us the abstract.

      • daveau
        Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        Makes my head hurt just thinking about it.

  12. Jim Jones
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    You may get a sternly worded letter from lawyers representing the Association of Grammatically Correct Felines over this.

  13. Lars
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    for the better half of a decade

    Which half was that? For my money, the past decade really kissed willy. All of it.

  14. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    “They’ll give a degree in anything these days”.

    Only loosely related but I couldn’t resist:
    http://www.xkcd.com/1052/

    Starts off “Philosophy’s just math sans rigor, sense and practicality” – what’s not to love? ;)

    Oh, and “The wiki page for ‘Physics major’ redirects to ‘Engineer’” which puts me in my place (I iz a engnr). And entirely predictably started an edit war on Wikipedia.

    • Nikos Apostolakis
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 1:32 am | Permalink

      I think the argument for the historicity of Jesus is also described very well.

  15. Achrachno
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Geeze Louise, they’ll give a degree for anything these days!

  16. Greg Esres
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve never seen a LOLcat that I thought was funny. Their popularity confounds me.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

      They’ve got photos of cute kittehs on them. Are you a heretic?

    • llewelly
      Posted May 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Have you spoken to a psychiatrist about that?


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