Posted by: alexswallow | June 14, 2013

The meaning of memes: An Xiao Mina at TEDGlobal 2013

Fascinating, I had never thought of memes in this way.

TED Blog

“This is what happens when you take the addictive power of an LOLcat and apply it in a ceonsorship state,” says An Xiao Mina, a writer, technologist and researcher who studies Chinese memes. On the TEDGlobal 2013 stage, she shares the moment that led her to this unusual specialty.

Two years ago, China’s government imposed a severe crackdown in which many human rights activists were rounded up. In April 2011, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei disappeared for 81 days after being detained at the Beijing airport. During that time, many of his associates were brought in for questioning, others went missing and still others became the subject of wiretaps. Meanwhile, anyone who posted Weiwei’s name or initials online in Chinese social media found their message deleted and, sometimes, their account gone. It was then that Mina noticed an interesting thing pop up on social media — sunflower seeds.

Sunflower seeds may be a…

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