Class Notes 10/27/15

The crowdsourcing postings are not optional and counts towards our grades.  It was due two days ago and those who have not participated should go back and revisit them.  Everyone should participate in the ongoing conversation.  Credit will still be given.

For Thursday we should focus on Jones and Hafner and Cohen and Kenny.  If the Syrian boy post is not finished or posted, it should be done by Thursday.


Fola: Meme’s Ability to Change Over Time

  • Discourse communities
  • Where memes originated
  • How images are manipulated

Mariah:  “Just Do It”

  • Introduced Shia Labeouf
  • Advertising and image have merged
  • Self distribution of image and self
  • Commercial use and parodies

Samantha: Twitter: The power of a retweet

  • How we communicate on Twitter
  • Explained what retweets are and the purposes
  • Political and entertainment spreading
  • Terms and conditions of Twitter

Discussion:  “Iconographic Tracking: A Digital Research Method for Visual Rhetoric and Circulation Studies.”

We are required to rethink rhetoric and our composing strategies. It is important to the flow of new visual images.

We have a sharing society where we have the freedom to post anything as opposed to some other countries which have restrictions.

To verify stories, we should try to get at least three viable sources.

For iconic tracking, it is necessary to have a big dataset to identify patterns and terms.

Question: Does the image stand alone? Gries argues that we should be open to other possibilities.

Glossary Terms:

Creative comments: you can use other people’s images for your own purposes but you have to give credit to the original source.

Open source: relates more specifically to software which is made available openly and you don’t have to buy it.

Open access: publishing it means it can be accessed anywhere freely. It creates greater access and therefore a greater impact.

Response 9- Viral Videos, Attention Structures, Visual Rhetoric

Every day when you log onto any social media platform you’ll see whats currently in the news, the weather and you’ll also see the current viral sensation. In some cases these are memes in others they’re videos. Take for instance the viral parodies of Drake’s song Hotline Bling over the course of a week these videos have been remixed with all sorts of intent, other dances, pizza making and more. They’re widely known now and every discourse community has had their hand in making a unique one.

So how do these things take off? Why do they take off? In the case of the Drake videos its because they’re funny and people loved to remix them, in other cases like the UC Davis incident of Lt. Pike pepper spraying peacefully protesting students for no reason, the videos go viral out of anger and support for those wronged. Very often on social media we see viral videos of excessive police force, animal abusers and other social justice issues. By sharing the video we show support, solidarity or complete opposition adding our two cents in with the share.

This is the case surrounding the visual component of the Trayvon Martin case. Lisa Lebduska goes through the viral web of images used to play the case out in the media in Racist Visual Rhetoric and Images of Trayvon Martin. “Power and inequality themselves have long been mediated by visual practices across and array of media” (page 1) she introduces the idea that racism, like many other global issues, is amplified and reinforced with the use of social media. When the Martin case hit the media it was met with a firestorm of circulation, prosecution and outrage. Battle lines were drawn and some virally reposted images of Martin as a wholesome family kid who was judged because of what he looked like, while others, including Zimmerman’s defense team, took typical teenage myspace images and blew them out of context in an attempt to make Martin a villain.

One of the most circulated images was the one of Martin and Zimmerman juxtaposed. It shows Martin smiling at the camera, the image of Zimmerman was a 2005 mug shot (page 2). This image was created to push public cry for the indictment of Zimmerman painting Trayvon as cherubic (page 3) and honest, using an image of him in a Hollister brand shirt which is often associated with middle class (page 2). Carefully choosing the image was everything as Lubduska points out it was “a martyred child is easier to convey than the nuanced complexity of a human teen…..” (page 4).

That then ties in to the statement made by Trayvon’s mother Sybrina “People want to make this a black and white issue, but i believe that this is about right and wrong. No one should be shot just because someone else thinks they’e suspicious” (page 3). In the media the story was pitched from as racial standpoint which is why the media in favor of indicting Zimmerman chose images of Martin smiling, with family and doing things like snowboarding over “human teen” behavior photos because doing so would only amplify the stereotypical images also circulating.

Whenever we see an image it is often always accompanied by a story, that story however does not always accurately depict the picture and vice versa. “…Images are not things. They are relationships that we create.” (page 6), this powerful closing is everything. Images are what we propagate them to be, when made viral they can have a lasting and dangerous effect.

Memes Encouragement of Discourse Communitites

Kenny and Cohen derive the idea of a meme by using Limor Shifman’s definition in explaining to their readers that a meme, is “(a) a group of digital items sharing common characteristics of content, form, and/or stance, which (b) were created with awareness of each other, and (c) were circulated, imitated, and/or transformed via the internet by many users” (98).

The circulation of memes have created a discourse community in which people participate in creating variations of scenarios through imagery. Memes spread through the behavior that they generate within different discourse communities on the web. For instance, the very familiar Leonardo Dicaprio memes:




As you can see, a snippet of imagery from the film The Great Gatsby was acquired and circulated around the web to create various memes whether to share humorous context or a more serious one. One shot can be looked at and manipulated a thousand ways and that in itself, creates a discourse community in that users of the web like to create memes. This photo may be updated and reupdated whenever someone has a text that can draw attention to the photo and create an idea.

“According to Limor Shifman, there are two types of remix meme: the juxtaposition image meme and the frozen-motion remix meme. The juxtaposition meme takes a facial expression or an act out context and inserts it into an image that deserves the punch line” (Cohen & Kenny 104). The memes of Leonardo Dicaprio shown above is the very definition of a juxtaposition meme. “Shifman explains that juxtapositions call for mimetic response because the photos are taken out of context, and their reappropriation to other context feels almost natural” (Cohen & Kenny 104). Users of the web who experiment with memes may not know the context of Leonardo’s facial expression if they did not watch the movie, however, the way Shifman puts it, the facial expression is open to interpretation to create memes and generate ideas of thinking within discourse communities or just in the realm of the web as a whole.

To use Leonardo Dicaprio again, his photo was taken in mid-motion in the scene of his film Inception as he is seen walking awkwardly but happily and people use out-of-context information to crate a meme. The original photo is shown below.

 Look at the variations people came up with as a result making it a frozen-motion meme.

*All photos located at The 23 Funniest Strutting Leo Pics.

The variations of this photo has generated so much buzz within the discourse community of the web that it is known as “Strutting Leo.” Because of the popularity of the photo, people are successful in producing a desired or intended result via the internet and by using this particular photo. Same goes for thousands of other photos that continue to circulate the web. Ultimately, discourse communities are encouraged to participate in creating memes by using shared photos or videos of interest on the web.

Does Circulation and Multimodality Define Success of Media?

For the success of any media whether digital or not there needs to be an adequate amount of circulation in order to actively categorize the media as successful. Upon creation of the media the author understand that there must be an attention generating or grabbing component. This component is what increased the chances for circulation. Take for example, the Pepe The Frog Meme, it was created and within a matter of days had spread as far as being adapted into various other scenarios than the first intentional creation. Which also leads me to the point which stipulated that circulation promotes multimodality.

Multimodality is not only the composition of different forms of media, but as I see it  the expansion and recreation of a media into various forms (also can be interpreted as remixes). Both, circulation and multimodality promote and invite an audience in both a social and economic aspect. You have to think of it this way, a print billboard in a dark alley with little to no foot traffic with gain no attention and will not circulate the advertisement however, at the same a billboard in a bright and rather well lit area with enough foot traffic could also face the same problem if the intended media does not generation attention and invites participation also known as the circulation of said media. As mentioned in, Laurie E. Greis’s, Iconographic Tracking: A Digital Research Method for Visual Rhetoric and Circulation Studies, states that, “Studying an image’s eventfulness is also necessary for addressing the complexities of visual production, distribution, and circulation brought on by a viral economy.” (pg 335) In other words, the media itself allows entails the strategies for both commercial use and social experimentation.

In both, Hanfer and Jones, and Cohen and Kenny it became apparent to me that the way by which we sell our creations online is by corresponding to the demands and the usage of our intended online users– marketing and advertising 101, but what is not so obvious is in as mentioned  in Hanfer and Jones the concept of, “Interaction and Involvement” (pg 61). With Web 2.0 came the revolution of users interaction and involvement in online subject matter, “The producer of an image can draw on a range of techniques in order to engage and involve their audience, express power relations, and express modality (how truthful something is…” (pg 61). Here we see how there is a manipulation of sorts in order to promote and circulate a media. As producers of media we play on peoples emotions, strengths, weaknesses, fears, and joys in order to promote and circulate our work. All in the same,  Cohen and Kenny’s chapter, which also is systemic in the sense that it allows their audience to carefully understand the do’s and don’ts of producing a successful meme exemplifies the idea that as creators we must be able to chose wisely how we promote our work in such a way that it circulates and generates noise– in a good way.

We as producers, authors, and writers must understand that the way by which we share our work and enter it into an online society subjects it to the  scrutiny of fame or failure. The success of a media in my interpretation is analyzes and addresses the needs and wants of an audience but does so in a way that it generates equal social  and economic circulation which eventually allows the creation of new and extensions of that said media. Circulation is a vital part to any media as it is to our body. As it is in our body the exchange allows to grow and reap benefits and so too does this component online.

Meme Presentation


When we think about how we communicate on a screen several things come to mind, text messages, emails, Facebook messages or maybe twitter. What we don’t think about is how these modes of communication change how we send each other information. As it says on page 90 of Chapter Four (Cohen and Kenny) “one of the biggest downsides of digital culture is transmission loss of meaning and depth in text in short messages”. This along with the combination of emoji’s and short speak make us pre programmed to keep it short and get to the point. It also opens the door to miscommunication because how I type something may not be the way its read by someone else, which can either be a funny misunderstanding or something more serious like offending someone.


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Response 7- Memes

When we think about how we communicate on a screen several things come to mind, text messages, emails, Facebook messages or maybe twitter. What we don’t think about is how these modes of communication change how we send each other information. As it says on page 90 of Chapter Four (Cohen and Kenny) “one of the biggest downsides of digital culture is transmission loss of meaning and depth in text in short messages”. This along with the combination of emoji’s and short speak make us pre programmed to keep it short and get to the point. It also opens the door to miscommunication because how I type something may not be the way its read by someone else, which can either be a funny misunderstanding or something more serious like offending someone.

This idea relates to page 338 of the Gries article where she talks about the consequences of an image as it circulates. When we post something to our social media accounts they’re  no longer ours, they can be reposted and reworked thousands of times and the message we set out to send has now been revised half a dozen times. Think about the most popular memes out there right now and how many captions they can host or how many variations of that same meme you’ve come across in your scrolling. For example this picture has been apart of so many memes,

nick-young-confused-face-300x25665c f2d

Those are just two examples of how that one picture has been used. The two captions are totally unrelated but the picture still applies. When memes like this get changed and circulate they’re breathed new life. In memes like this its mostly for humor. However sometimes like Gries points out on page 342 sometimes images meant to be powerful and leave a lasting impression, like the obama hope poster, get remixed into context far outside their intent. Like the Obamicons which mock or make spoofs of the original content there is no limit to what people can do with something they find online, apps like twitter or instagram clearly state in their privacy policy that once you post it they can do what they want with it.

With the political scene heating up the memes surrounding the candidates are circulating more and more, some hilarious, some a little crude but all making jokes on the candidates campaign. Donald Trump in particular is a popular meme character, with thousands of variations of his face appearing all over social media.