Project 4

Due: Friday, April 29
Objectives: Collection, Curation & Attribution
Grade: 20% of your final grade (10% blog, 5% letter,  5%presentation)

The final assignment requires you to curate a meme collection online. You may use your main WordPress blog or start a new one, if you’d like. If you prefer to use a different blogging platform, that’s also fine. The design choices are up to you, so long as you provide me with the URL in the cover letter you submit on April 29.

The act of curation has become ubiquitous online. As such, it represents a compelling yet frequently misunderstood form of authorship. As digital curator Maria Popova explains, “In an age of information overload, information discovery—the service of bringing to the public’s attention that which is interesting, meaningful, important, and otherwise worthy of our time and thought—is a form of creative and intellectual labor, and one of increasing importance and urgency.” To sort through the endless dreck of digital culture takes time and perceptive insight into what matters when it comes to web trends. This assignment asks you to hone that insight by focusing on a single meme, or a set of memes related to a single theme.

Collection: First you will need to pick a meme that resonates with you and speaks to a contemporary cultural issue. Whether it’s funny, serious, political, creative or entirely derivative, the meme you pick should have several valences. Part of your task will be to track the meme through different media and cultural contexts. Where does it appear on the web? Does it appear in offline media? Has it inspired spinoff memes?

Contextualization: As you collect different instances of your meme, you will need to explain how they relate, and how each appeals to a different audience for different reasons (no matter how subtle). The written portion of your blog should be at least 500 words and should quote either Andrew Boyd or Neil Postman. You will need to attribute all your sources carefully by using hyperlinks and explicit statements of discovery. We will use as a standard for attribution.

Design: In addition to collecting key instances of your meme and explaining their significance, you will need to design the blog to best feature your content. Experiment with different themes and color palettes. Think about how the layout of each post catches readers’ attention and emphasizes certain content. Above all, be sure that you consider the front end of your blog, not just the dashboard view.

Finally, you will write a cover letter that introduces your curated meme collection, explains your process of research, and describes your decisions for designing and organizing the blog. It should look like a professional business letter. Submit the letter in hardcopy—with a signature—on the last day of class. Before that, however, you will need to present your blog as a work in progress to the class.