PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology


Using Internet Memes to improve Science Communication

Cristina Rigutto  

Due to the rise of the Internet and of the social media, people are now capable of shifting from passive culture consumption to active culture production. One of these cultural manifestations are internet memes. Memes are messages - like fun¬ny quotes, silly captioned pictures, songs, videos and riffs on popular culture - which are created, found, and shared by members of participatory digital culture for the purpose of continuing an online conversation. They are considered the building blocks of cyberspace culture and they continually evolve with modern society, influencing modern language, shaping popular culture, manipulating a community's social values, and planting fundamental beliefs and values that gain more authority with each new host. While researchers try to explain memes' popularity investigating how they are remixed and iterated in their competition for being successfully passed from one generation of minds to another in different ways, educators are carrying out several successful experiences on the use of memes in science classes. Actually, memes could be used in education to help students to develop the ability to learn visually, to think and solve problems in the visual domains and to use visuals to construct meaning. Memes could also serve both as a dynamic resource for helping people to develop informed points of view on a range of social issues about science and research, and to improve science outreach in social media. Memes proved to be an efficient tool for science communication, but to learn how to use and create memes it is fundamental to fully understand visual messages and to recognize the techniques and the reasons behind concept, symbolism, texts, image uses, font, colors and medium used. As these practical information are lacking in the available literature, a workshop on these techniques will highly contribute to science communication practice. This project is complete.

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