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'Success kid' uses fame to help raise $90,000 for father's kidney transplant – The Independent, 16 April 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "'Success kid' uses fame to help raise $90,000 for father's kidney transplant – The Independent, 16 April 2015."— Presentation transcript:

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3 'Success kid' uses fame to help raise $90,000 for father's kidney transplant – The Independent, 16 April 2015

4 Grumpy Cat Has Earned Her Owner Nearly $100 Million In Just 2 Years – Business Insider, 8 December 2014 Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever

5 Actor Chen Tianwen's cheesy love song Unbelievable goes viral – The Straits Times, 14 April 2015 ‘I So Stunned Like Vegetable’ Could Become a Thing After This Video – Time.com, 16 April 2015

6 Yam Ah Mee Yam Ah ‘Bond’

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8 Who is Yam Ah Mee? Returning Officer of the 2011 Singapore General Election Returning Officer of the 2011 Singapore General Election CEO of the People’s Association CEO of the People’s Association Rose to fame after monotonous announcement of election results (Seow, 2011) Rose to fame after monotonous announcement of election results (Seow, 2011)

9 Birth of the Yam Ah Mee Meme Yam Ah Mee’s announcement of Alunjied GRC results remixed into dance track Yam Ah Mee’s announcement of Alunjied GRC results remixed into dance track More than 500,000 views to date (YouTube, 2011) More than 500,000 views to date (YouTube, 2011) “Unfamiliar perhaps only to someone living in a cave” over the election month (Seow, 2011) “Unfamiliar perhaps only to someone living in a cave” over the election month (Seow, 2011) “What’s going on?”

10 What are Memes? “unit[s] of cultural transmission” made possible through imitation or replication (Dawkins, 1982, p. 192) “unit[s] of cultural transmission” made possible through imitation or replication (Dawkins, 1982, p. 192) Able to permeate cultural and language differences although idiosyncratic in nature (Burns, 2009) Able to permeate cultural and language differences although idiosyncratic in nature (Burns, 2009) Have evolved to take advantage of rapid transmission channels online in the form of “Internet memes” (Burns, 2009) Have evolved to take advantage of rapid transmission channels online in the form of “Internet memes” (Burns, 2009) Ever more virulent in lieu of globalisation and Internet reach (Shifman & Thelwall, 2009) Ever more virulent in lieu of globalisation and Internet reach (Shifman & Thelwall, 2009)

11 Rationale for Study Potential of memes to drive structural change in communities and societies via expressing cultural values (Underwood & Welser, 2011) Potential of memes to drive structural change in communities and societies via expressing cultural values (Underwood & Welser, 2011) Use of Internet memes to send political messages in social media (Seow, 2011) Use of Internet memes to send political messages in social media (Seow, 2011) Focus on Yam Ah Mee Internet meme Focus on Yam Ah Mee Internet meme Every meme a unique cultural story Every meme a unique cultural story Has recent, political overtones concerning Singapore (Chua, 2011) Has recent, political overtones concerning Singapore (Chua, 2011)

12 Research Objective To examine how the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme represents a form of cultural expression in Singapore

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14 Cultural Expression Expression of ideas that come from the creative inputs of individuals, groups, or societies that possess some form of cultural content (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2005) Expression of ideas that come from the creative inputs of individuals, groups, or societies that possess some form of cultural content (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, 2005)

15 Elements of Cultural Expression 1.Creativity in generating new ideas or artefacts (Glăveanu, 2010) 2.Idiosyncratic sharing by individuals with similar cultural values Depends on magnitude of cultural values overlapping (Anheier & Isar, 2010) Depends on magnitude of cultural values overlapping (Anheier & Isar, 2010)

16 CreativityCreativity 1.Internalisation (Glăveanu, 2010) Relating a new idea or artefact to existing ones Relating a new idea or artefact to existing ones “without rules there cannot be exceptions” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999, p. 315) “without rules there cannot be exceptions” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999, p. 315) 2.Externalisation (Glăveanu, 2010) Translating an idea into something tangible Translating an idea into something tangible “will[ingness] to expression, and to communicate with others” (Negus & Pickering, 2004, p. 22) “will[ingness] to expression, and to communicate with others” (Negus & Pickering, 2004, p. 22) A need to externalise so as to internalise A need to externalise so as to internalise “rooted in interactions between individual and society” (Anheier & Isar, 2010, p. 4) “rooted in interactions between individual and society” (Anheier & Isar, 2010, p. 4) Not solitary, originator and audience play equal role in creative process Not solitary, originator and audience play equal role in creative process

17 Idiosyncratic Sharing Culture defined as idiosyncratic attributes peculiar to a social system shared by individuals from this system (Hall as cited in Parker & Savary, 1997) Culture defined as idiosyncratic attributes peculiar to a social system shared by individuals from this system (Hall as cited in Parker & Savary, 1997) Nature of sharing changed by globalisation and information communication technologies (ICTs) that blur boundaries between social systems (Hopper, 2007) Nature of sharing changed by globalisation and information communication technologies (ICTs) that blur boundaries between social systems (Hopper, 2007) Cultural expressions are more widely shared when: Cultural expressions are more widely shared when: They are highly intuitive (McCauley, 2000) They are highly intuitive (McCauley, 2000) Individuals who share them have greater overlap of cultural values amongst each other (Glăveanu, 2010) Individuals who share them have greater overlap of cultural values amongst each other (Glăveanu, 2010)

18 Existing Studies on Internet Memes Focused on determinants of success and dissemination patterns (Bauckhage, 2011; Carter & Arroyo, 2011; Shifman, 2012; Shifman & Thelwall, 2009) Focused on determinants of success and dissemination patterns (Bauckhage, 2011; Carter & Arroyo, 2011; Shifman, 2012; Shifman & Thelwall, 2009) Common call for greater understanding on interplay between culture and memes Common call for greater understanding on interplay between culture and memes

19 Research Questions RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? RQ2: What does idiosyncratic sharing among individuals with similar cultural values mean in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme?

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21 SamplingSampling Young adults between 15 to 24 years of age (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, n.d.) Young adults between 15 to 24 years of age (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, n.d.) The most “enmeshed” by Internet use in developed countries (Guan & Subrahmanyam, 2009, p. 351) The most “enmeshed” by Internet use in developed countries (Guan & Subrahmanyam, 2009, p. 351) Lived in Singapore at least for five years Lived in Singapore at least for five years Different racial, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds Different racial, gender, and socio-economic backgrounds Purposive and snowball sampling Purposive and snowball sampling

22 Method and Analysis Procedure Semi-Structured Interviews Semi-Structured Interviews Face-to-Face Face-to-Face One interviewer to one participant One interviewer to one participant Transcripts coded based on Miles and Huberman’s (1994) specific thematic analysis approach Transcripts coded based on Miles and Huberman’s (1994) specific thematic analysis approach Each transcript reviewed according to pre-determined data inclusion and reduction criteria Each transcript reviewed according to pre-determined data inclusion and reduction criteria Remaining data organised to surface themes and concepts Remaining data organised to surface themes and concepts

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24 The Interviews One Malay male (30 years), two Chinese females (25 and 29 years) as examples in this presentation One Malay male (30 years), two Chinese females (25 and 29 years) as examples in this presentation Pseudonyms used in reporting findings Pseudonyms used in reporting findings

25 General Findings Heavy reliance on Internet Heavy reliance on Internet Familiarity with YouTube and meme sites like 9gag.com Familiarity with YouTube and meme sites like 9gag.com Familiarity with memes depends on shares by friends on Facebook Familiarity with memes depends on shares by friends on Facebook Have seen actual Internet memes, but differ in knowledge of the term, “Internet meme” Have seen actual Internet memes, but differ in knowledge of the term, “Internet meme” Will feel quite disconnected and lost as I’m used to having information and content right at my fingertips. However, it might also be a good break from work as Internet “forces” you to be constantly contactable. – Participant 2, F, 29 years [Not knowing the term “Internet meme”] Stuff that are trending and widely shared by everybody. Basically anything that has gone viral. Examples include the Gangnam style MTV, nyan cat, images such as the angry man face etc... – Participant 1, M, 30 years

26 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Internalisation Internalisation Yam Ah Mee meme juxtaposed with other YouTube videos containing Singaporean content (e.g. Dr Jia Jia, Hitler spoofs) Yam Ah Mee meme juxtaposed with other YouTube videos containing Singaporean content (e.g. Dr Jia Jia, Hitler spoofs) Videos shared by friends through Facebook or by word-of-mouth Videos shared by friends through Facebook or by word-of-mouth It’s usually parodies based on current affairs. The contents are quite funny generally, like the Minister small boy one. – Participant 2 I’ve seen quite a number of parodies with reference to iconic local events/people, some interesting mash-ups, student’s creative productions. One particular one I remembered was the NUS CORS Hitler spoof. Classic. – Participant 1

27 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Internalisation Internalisation Novelty of Yam Ah Mee meme lay in music mash-up nature Novelty of Yam Ah Mee meme lay in music mash-up nature No novelty factor attributed to political background of meme due to existence of videos with similar background (e.g. Mee Siam Mai Hum) No novelty factor attributed to political background of meme due to existence of videos with similar background (e.g. Mee Siam Mai Hum) Yah, it’s new but it’s quite lame. Is just basically repeating his catchphase over and over again, like a trance track! – Participant 3, F, 25 years Singapore videos usually do not follow the style of mash-ups. At most, it’s some juxtaposition of pictures and singing like the All Is Tan video. Quite refreshing to see it! – Participant 1

28 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Externalisation Externalisation Technical know-how required to create and share Yam Ah Mee meme Technical know-how required to create and share Yam Ah Mee meme Dissemination of meme seen as timely Dissemination of meme seen as timely It’s important to do it while it [the context] is still fresh, otherwise, it becomes old. – Participant 3 I don’t really know how it’s done... perhaps through some Photoshop-like software for audio? – Participant 2

29 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Externalisation Externalisation Participants felt that purpose of Yam Ah Mee meme was to seek fame, rather than conveying messages Participants felt that purpose of Yam Ah Mee meme was to seek fame, rather than conveying messages Was he trying to be funny? Or just trying to get attention… I don’t know. Maybe just wanting to get people to comment. – Participant 2 Well, I think the guy who did was just trying to tell everyone that he did it first. Isn’t that what the whole point of creating these videos is about? – Participant 1

30 RQ2: What does idiosyncratic sharing among individuals with similar cultural values mean in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Sharing through Facebook, casual banter – just as how others shared meme with them Sharing through Facebook, casual banter – just as how others shared meme with them Timeliness of sharing – will not share once hype dies down Timeliness of sharing – will not share once hype dies down Common knowledge of 2011 Singapore General Elections as pre-requisite to sharing Common knowledge of 2011 Singapore General Elections as pre-requisite to sharing I think most of the views [on YouTube] were in probably not so many people watching it now. – Participant 3 Yes, no doubt Internet makes it easier to share about it, but if the person is really unfamiliar with the content, it’s no point sharing with them since they won’t be able to appreciate it. – Participant 2

31 RQ2: What does idiosyncratic sharing among individuals with similar cultural values mean in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Widely shared in Singapore, not elsewhere Widely shared in Singapore, not elsewhere It’s probably not going to be popular outside Singapore. Can’t imagine ang mohs understanding the humour. – Participant 3 I remember this friend from Indonesia asking me what was Yam Ah Mee. “It’s a person”, I said. He heard from somewhere about Yam Ah Mee, but didn’t know the story. Actually, I think hard for foreigners to understand also even if they know. – Participant 1

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33 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Summary of Preliminary Findings for RQ1 Summary of Preliminary Findings for RQ1 Internalisation Internalisation Yam Ah Mee meme juxtaposed with other YouTube videos containing Singaporean content (e.g. Dr Jia Jia, Hitler spoofs) Yam Ah Mee meme juxtaposed with other YouTube videos containing Singaporean content (e.g. Dr Jia Jia, Hitler spoofs) Videos shared by friends through Facebook or by word-of-mouth Videos shared by friends through Facebook or by word-of-mouth Novelty of Yam Ah Mee meme lay in music mash-up nature Novelty of Yam Ah Mee meme lay in music mash-up nature Externalisation Externalisation Technical know-how required to create and share Yam Ah Mee meme Technical know-how required to create and share Yam Ah Mee meme Dissemination of meme seen as timely Dissemination of meme seen as timely Participants felt that purpose of Yam Ah Mee meme was to seek fame, rather than conveying messages Participants felt that purpose of Yam Ah Mee meme was to seek fame, rather than conveying messages

34 RQ1: How is creativity (in terms of internalisation and externalisation) exemplified in the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme? Discussion of Preliminary Findings for RQ1 Discussion of Preliminary Findings for RQ1 “will[ingness] to expression, and to communicate with others” (Negus & Pickering, 2004, p. 22) “will[ingness] to expression, and to communicate with others” (Negus & Pickering, 2004, p. 22) Not just a willingness, but a hyperwillingness as seen from audience’s eyes Not just a willingness, but a hyperwillingness as seen from audience’s eyes Message sent may not be message is received Message sent may not be message is received “rooted in interactions between individual and society” (Anheier & Isar, 2010, p. 4) “rooted in interactions between individual and society” (Anheier & Isar, 2010, p. 4) Alludes to a “being-first” attitude prevalent in Singapore (Low, 2006) Alludes to a “being-first” attitude prevalent in Singapore (Low, 2006) Internet medium facilitates rapid transmission, but also rapid expiry of time-space context dependent content (Burns, 2009) Internet medium facilitates rapid transmission, but also rapid expiry of time-space context dependent content (Burns, 2009) Asynchronicity and anonymity of Internet increases interactions between originator and society, as well as how interactions are interpreted (Burns, 2009) Asynchronicity and anonymity of Internet increases interactions between originator and society, as well as how interactions are interpreted (Burns, 2009)

35 Summary of Preliminary Findings for RQ2 Summary of Preliminary Findings for RQ2 Timeliness of sharing – will not share once hype dies down Timeliness of sharing – will not share once hype dies down Common knowledge of 2011 Singapore General Elections as pre- requisite to sharing Common knowledge of 2011 Singapore General Elections as pre- requisite to sharing Widely shared in Singapore, not elsewhere Widely shared in Singapore, not elsewhere Discussion of Preliminary Findings for RQ2 Discussion of Preliminary Findings for RQ2 Internet medium facilitates greater sharing across social systems, but also rapid expiry of time-space context dependent content (Burns, 2009) Internet medium facilitates greater sharing across social systems, but also rapid expiry of time-space context dependent content (Burns, 2009) Yam Ah Mee widely shared in Singapore only possibly because of: Yam Ah Mee widely shared in Singapore only possibly because of: Not so intuitive nature Not so intuitive nature Greater overlap of cultural values among people familiar to Singapore Greater overlap of cultural values among people familiar to Singapore RQ2: What does idiosyncratic sharing among individuals with similar cultural values mean in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee Internet meme?

36 Limitations and Reflexivity Theoretical Limitations Theoretical Limitations Subjective nature of creativity Subjective nature of creativity Complex nature of social relationships between originator and audience Complex nature of social relationships between originator and audience Method Limitation Method Limitation Accuracy in participants’ recall of experiences Accuracy in participants’ recall of experiences Social desirability bias Social desirability bias Reflexivity Reflexivity Author overlooked possibility of Yam Ah Mee as a message transmission Author overlooked possibility of Yam Ah Mee as a message transmission Finding from first interview suggested this possibility Finding from first interview suggested this possibility Revised interview guide to include questions on message conveyance through Yam Ah Mee meme Revised interview guide to include questions on message conveyance through Yam Ah Mee meme

37 Directions for Future Research In-depth study on one Internet meme using mixed-methods (i.e. case study) In-depth study on one Internet meme using mixed-methods (i.e. case study) Study on trends of cultural expression in Singapore across different memes Study on trends of cultural expression in Singapore across different memes

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39 Creativity exemplified in Yam Ah Mee meme as a reflection of social relationships mediated by the Internet Creativity exemplified in Yam Ah Mee meme as a reflection of social relationships mediated by the Internet Idiosyncratic sharing in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee meme means a timely sharing of content which is more widely evident in Singapore, despite affordance of ICTs Idiosyncratic sharing in the cultural expression of the Yam Ah Mee meme means a timely sharing of content which is more widely evident in Singapore, despite affordance of ICTs Lessons Learnt

40 Anheier, H. K., & Isar, Y. R. (2010). Cultures and Globalization: Cultural Expression, Creativity and Innovation (The Cultures and Globalization Series). London: Sage Publications. Bauckhage, C. (2011). Insights into Internet Memes. Proceedings of the Fifth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, Barcelona, Spain, Burns, K. S. (2009). Celeb 2.0: How Social Media Foster Our Fascination with Popular Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. Carter, G. V., & Arroyo, S. J. (2011). Tubing the Future: Participatory Pedagogy and YouTube U in Computers and Composition, 28, Chua, H. H. (2011, May 15). Social Media: The new voice of GE. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva database. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Implications of a systems perspective for the study of creativity. In R. Sternberg (Ed.), Handbook of Creativity (pp ). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dawkins, R. (1982). The Extended Phenotype. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Glăveanu, V. P. (2010). Creativity As Cultural Participation. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 41(1), Guan, S. S. A., & Subrahmanyam, K. (2009). Youth Internet Use: Risks and Opportunities. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 22,

41 Hall, E. T. (1966). The Hidden Dimension. NY: Doubleday & Co. Hopper, P. (2007). Understanding Cultural Globalization. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Low, K. C. P. (2006). Cultural Obstacles in Growing Entrepreneurship: A Study in Singapore. Journal of Management Development, 25(2), McCauley, R. N. (2000). The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of Science. In F. C. Keil & R. A. Wilson (Eds.), Explanation and cognition (pp ). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd ed.). CA: Sage Publications. Negus, K., & Pickering, M. (2004). Creativity, Communication and Cultural Value. London: Sage Publications. Parker, P. M., & Sarvary, M. (1997). A Cross-Cultural Study of Consumer Innovativeness (INSEAD Working Paper 1997/109/MKT). Retrieved from INSEAD Working Paper Series: Seow, S. (2011, June 8). Online advertising has much to learn from Yam Ah Mee. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva database. Shifman, L. (2012). An Anatomy of a YouTube Meme. New Media & Society, 14(2), Shifman, L., & Thelwall, M. (2009). Assessing Global Diffusion with Web Memetics: The Spread and Evolution of a Popular Joke. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 60(12),

42 Underwood, P., & Welser, H. T. (2011). ‘The Internet is Here’: Emergent Coordination and Innovation of Protest Forms in Digital Culture. Proceedings of the 2011 iConference, New York, doi: / United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (n.d.). Youth: Social Policy and Development Division – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. (2005). Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Retrieved from YouTube. (2011). Yam Ah Mee Election Club Mix (GE 2011). Retrieved from


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