The most awesome thesis of all time

May 11, 2012 • 7:40 am

Katie Milner of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has written the most awesome dissertation of all time (pdf at link). Here’s the cover page:

Normally I would say, “Geez, they’ll give a degree for anything these days,” but hey, it’s about LOLcats!  Some of the humor is intentional, some unintentional, but I recommend Appendix G for your delectation.   Here’s the summary:

LOLCats are pictures of cats with misspelled captions that have become a genuine cultural phenomenon. LOLCats are often considered to be the archetypal Internet meme, a piece of often entertaining cultural currency that spreads rapidly through social networks and media platforms. However, unlike most Internet memes whose potency tends to wane after a short period of time, LOLCats have remained relevant and popular for the better half of a decade, inspiring a devoted following. Despite their position as a hallmark of participatory culture, LOLCats—and Internet memes in general— have been largely ignored in academia. This study sought to address this shortcoming through an exploratory, audience-oriented examination of LOLCats’ appeal. In light of the user-generated and social nature of the LOLCat phenomenon, focus groups were conducted to investigate the ways in which the textual and social aspects of LOLCats contribute to their allure. The research revealed that the LOLCat audience is comprised of three separate groups that interact with and appreciate LOLCats for different reasons. The study also confirmed that LOLCats are operating as a genre, and that the appropriate execution of that genre is central to their enjoyment. Furthermore, it became evident that for most participants, LOLCats’ appeal rests in the intersection of the textual and the social, as exemplified by the use of textual and generic elements such as Lolspeak to perform social functions like establishing in-group boundaries. Additionally, despite the fact that LOLCats are a form of publicly circulated UGC, these groups revealed that many LOLCats are created or shared for the purpose of interpersonal communication and emotional expression. Ultimately, LOLCats are funny pictures of cats; however, the ways in which they traffic in fundamental human needs like belonging and emotional expression are no laughing matter.

Whatever. I just go there for the pictures.

h/t: Grania Spingies

28 thoughts on “The most awesome thesis of all time

    1. Purr-review is a hairy question.

      Either they will claw for possessing it. Or they will simply disdain it.

  1. “I just go there for the pictures.” Don’t we all?!

    I’ve seen commenters using LOLspeak, not knowing its origins. So, Ms. Milner is on to something.

  2. “Normally I would say, “Geez, they’ll give a degree for anything these days,” but hey, it’s about LOLcats!” And much more relevant than any degree in theology!

  3. Whatever. I just go there for the pictures.

    Three, no, FOUR separate groups. I’ll come in again…

  4. “LOLCats have remained relevant and popular for the better half of a decade”.

    Whoa! serious staying power!

  5. I never really noticed how long LOLCats have been around. They do indeed seem to have an exceptional staying power.

    Clearly, all your base no longer belong to us.

  6. One of the longest running ones has to be the one with the dude attached half naked to some wooden pole thing, wearing some thorny head attire. You see that everywhere!

  7. You may get a sternly worded letter from lawyers representing the Association of Grammatically Correct Felines over this.

  8. for the better half of a decade

    Which half was that? For my money, the past decade really kissed willy. All of it.

  9. “They’ll give a degree in anything these days”.

    Only loosely related but I couldn’t resist:

    Starts off “Philosophy’s just math sans rigor, sense and practicality” – what’s not to love? 😉

    Oh, and “The wiki page for ‘Physics major’ redirects to ‘Engineer'” which puts me in my place (I iz a engnr). And entirely predictably started an edit war on Wikipedia.

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