For nearly two years, we’ve been discussing how to categorize meme entries (see archived threads: (meme categories / meme classification / meme categories) and it’s finally here! This article explain the 5 KYMdb entry categories we’re introducing, as well as what we plan on doing with them.
- What are the categories?
In the coming weeks, we’ll work on building the following categories:
1. Memes: denotes the entry is for documentation of an internet meme.
2. Events: denotes the entry covers a specific event that took place on the web.
3. People: denotes the entry covers biographical info & highlights of an individual person or a collective.
4. Sites: denotes the entry covers a notable internet hubsite or an online community.
5. Subcultures: denotes the entry covers a particular interest or activities associated with certain groups.
- What are some examples?
For example, consider our recent entries May 21st, 2011 Rapture and Rapture Bombing. The former would be categorized as an #event entry, as it took place at a particular time (May 21st) and setting (outside in real life). The latter entry explains a practical joke that isn’t necessarily bound to a specific time and thus it would be categorized as a #meme entry.
For another example, let’s look at Boxxy and RayWilliamJohnson entries. Even though both can be seen as “internet people”, the former would be categorized as a #meme entry, as Boxxy is foremost a subject of an internet meme. In contrast, “RayWilliamJohnson” would be better suited under #people, as he is a notable YouTube personality and an influential voice in internet culture, but not necessarily a subject of internet phenomenon. See below for more examples.
- Why categories?
The purpose of this category system is to eliminate common misconceptions or confusions as to why we choose to document things that wouldn’t be seen as “memes” by consensus at large. To be clear, this 5 category system will not serve as our criteria for classifying meme entries, but to separate supplementary / introductory entries related to internet culture (ex: hubsites, collectives, etc) from entries strictly dealing with internet memes.
- What does this mean for entry editors and contributors?
Most editors and writers won’t have to worry about categorizing entries. The KYM staff will be taking on this duty in the beginning and entries will be organized similar to how our blog entries are sorted by categories. Of course, you can still suggest which category you think it belongs in the tag field. In addition, #memes category will not be visible in the entry page (since they make up the majority of database content).
- Why not categorize by sites where internet memes are known to originate from?
Because notability of a website is an unstable property, not to mention it is subjective. If we based our categories on a number of hubsites currently in existence, where will our categories be in ten years?
- Why not categorize by format/medium like catchphrases, viral videos, image macros, etc?
Because the medium of a meme is often subject to changes throughout its lifespan. Consider classics like “All Your Base” for example. The meme began as an animated GIf meme, peaked as a photoshopping trend but years later, it has been abstracted into a standalone catchphrase. From our studies, we’re certain that the form is an ever-changing part of an internet meme.
- Why did this take so long?
We believe categorization can be a double-edged sword for our purpose of documenting internet culture. On one hand, we realized that there’s a need for certain level of organization. And yes, our database is growing fast and with thousands of entries being researched, there should be a better and easier way to browse the site. On the other hand, we also had to consider the unintentional boundaries & restraints that could arise as a result of categorizing, before putting anything in place.