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May 11, 2008 / Ben Chun

Im in ur database, recording ur memez

Do you ever see students write weird things online and wonder what they are talking about? I’m assuming you have a basic understanding of txt/im shorthand, but you might also want to keep up with the Snowclones Database which will give you the key to unlock some of those catchphrases or patterns. They’re also fun patterns to use when communicating with your students and I think they play into the same part of the teacher’s brain that loves to make puns and sly references just to see which students will pick up on them.

If you want to cast your net a little wider and read up on a bunch of online culture, Wikipedia has a list of Internet phenomena… I feel like I should generally know what’s on this list too, just so I don’t accidentally walk into the computer lab with a virtual “kick me” sign on my back. And having this level of understanding also allows me to communicate with and understand my students in ways that are just not possible otherwise. Anyone have other sources for keeping up with the Zeitgeist?



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  1. zephoria / May 11 2008 9:01 pm

    Naomi Baron just published a book called “Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World.” Probably a more academic treatment than you need, but you might enjoy. I don’t agree with all of her conclusions, but interesting none-the-less.

  2. Eric Nguyen / May 16 2008 9:32 am

    It seems like the increasing velocity of memes in our culture is making language itself more amorphous. I wonder how rudimentary tools like the ones you’ve linked to will develop to allow us to cope in a more dynamic way. I’m thinking automatic translation between subcultures (not just languages.) Or, if not translation, then real-time markup/annotation of what you’re taking in…

  3. Ben Chun / May 28 2008 10:29 pm

    This isn’t exactly the same thing, but Eric’s comment reminded me: I have often used the Urban Dictionary to figure out what rappers and/or my students mean when they use familiar words in ways that make it obvious that there are different meanings than the ones with which I am familiar.

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