Digital Culture


  • Are Memes & Internet Culture Creating a Singularity? | PBS Idea Channel

    Here on the internet, we love us some memes. But where do they come from? Yes we know, they are user generated. But to an internet layman, they seem to just appear, in huge quantities, ready for cultural consumption. Are they a sign of a "cultural singularity"? Memes follow rules and code, are varied, self-referential, and seem to multiply at an ever increasing rate. It may seem like science fiction, but we're close to a world where culture automatically and magically creates infinitely more culture.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Are There Internet Dialects? | PBS Idea Channel

    We consider ourselves natives of Internetland, which has made us wonder if there's such a thing as an internet dialect. Is there a common way of communicating through word choice, vocabulary, and how these words are arranged and used? So what is Standard Internet Speak? Acronyms, emoticons, and hashtags? Purposeful misspellings and abbreviations? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Do We Need a Better Archive of the Internet? | PBS Idea Channel

    The internet is an archive, but it may not be as effective as we think. It saves any media we can imagine (text, photographs, films, etc.), but what about information from the network? Status updates, tweets, image macros... they all seem to disappear into the ether. Are they not worth as much to us as physical objects? We archive things so we can remember them, so is this network ephemera not worth remembering? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Facebook Changing Our Identity? | PBS Idea Channel

    With 955,000,000 worldwide users, it seems like just about everyone makes use of the social media giant Facebook to connect with friends, share photos, and update everyone they've ever met since grade school about their dinner plans. But, what you may not realize is that Facebook's new timeline layout is enhancing the ability to construct our self identity by super-charging our memory. Philosophers have been arguing about the link between identity and memory since John Locke first proposed the idea in the 17th Century, but human memory has always been deeply flawed and limited. Now with Facebook's incredibly easy interface and ability to remember anything and everyone we want, people have a whole new way to understand their past and thus understand themselves. 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Homestuck the Ulysses of the Internet? | PBS Idea Channel

    If you're unfamiliar, Homestuck is a webcomic created Andrew Hussie that is over 5000 pages so far! In in its own weird way, Homestuck is a lot like James Joyce's Ulysses, where only the strongest, most dedicated readers make it through to the end. Most people don't expect such expansive and daunting works to find a home on the internet, but Homestuck has apparently pulled it off.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is the Internet Cats? | PBS Idea Channel

    I think we can all agree that the Internet has an intense, borderline obsessive appreciation for cats. With felines as its spirit animal, the internet can even seem cat-like in personality. Where does all this kitty love come from? Humans have made the internet, and humans have had an affinity for cats for centuries. But can we make the jump from "the internet loves cats" to "the internet is cats?" 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is There an Introvert Craze Because of Technology? | PBS Idea Channel

    Introverts are super popular right now, celebrated to the point of meme-level. Stereotypically quiet, smart, and reserved, they are often conflated with nerds, who are also currently deemed awesome according to pop culture. But why do we suddenly want to self-identify as nerds and introverts? Is this popularity connected to technology? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Is Twitter A New Form of Literature? | PBS Idea Channel

    Everyone is familiar with Twitter, the uber-popular micro-blogging site, which limits the user to 140 characters. The tweet is perfect for sharing your favorite links and updating the world about your life, but it might also be the newest literary form! This massively constrained communication, which has remarkable similarities to the Haiku, has inspired creativity worthy of the name "literature."

    PBS Idea Channel a weekly show hosted on Youtube. Discover, share, and engage more with the Idea Channel community at the Youtube page here.

    Grades: 9-12
  • LITERALLY OUR MOST AMAZING EPISODE EVER!!! | PBS Idea Channel

    "This is literally the best episode of Idea Channel EVER." Is it? Or are we just continuing the cultural trend of hyperbole? (side note: the episode is pretty gosh darn enjoyable) It's like EVERY SINGLE THING people describe is AWESOME and AMAZING and THE BEST. We're all seemingly competing to have the ultimate meaningful experiences, so how are we supposed to articulate genuine sentiment? I mean it's THE WORST I cannot even. Literally, I can't even find words to accurately describe the limits to our vocabulary and our ability to express true enthusiasm. So where does our vernacular develop from here? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Experience of Being Trolled | PBS Idea Channel

    In a very special episode, Mike rethinks his approach to hosting. Most of you have heard the phrase "Don't Feed the Trolls," but do trolls actually serve a purpose? Found in every place people converse online, their combative rhetoric can be annoying, even harmful. Can a valid argument be made for the value of trolls? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • There's No Such Thing As Offline?!? | PBS Idea Channel

    From Facebook to bank accounts, you always have some sort of online presence, whether you're actively engaging in front of a screen or not. Because of this we may need to re-evaluate the very word online.

    Grades: 6-12
  • What is a tweet worth? #ALSIceBucketChallenge | PBS Idea Channel

    By now, everyone online knows about the Ice Bucket Challenge. While it has been incredibly successful in terms of dollars raised, lots of the videos failed to mention donations, and many people questioned the value of the campaign. Are these videos "slacktivism," helping only superficially with a cause? What value do our social posts really have? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • When Do Memes Stop Being Funny? | PBS Idea Channel

    "Old meme is old." But why is this such a bad thing? Once the height of internetiness, the sight of a LOLCat is now unforgivable. Memes become passe very quickly: after just months or even weeks of a new meme, we tire of the once hugely popular joke. Why does this happen, and so rapidly? Is it a reflection of the sheer volume of visual information we absorb from the internet? Or, does it say something about this specific visual culture? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Why Are You Ignoring My iMessages?? | PBS Idea Channel

    Why are you ignoring my messages? Are read receipts amazing or infuriating? When you check iMessage on your iPhone, iWatch, iMac, or iPad and see a little note that says your friend saw your message, but they aren't responding, don't you wonder why they're ignoring your texts? 

    Grades: 9-12
  • Why Do We Hate Selfies? | PBS Idea Channel

    Despite being possibly the world's most annoying habit, selfies are undeniably a major part of modern visual language. They may be the lowest common denominator of the art of photography, but they are also a legitimate form of communication ("a picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind). But maybe all the hate comes from a confusion about what selfies actually are! Is it possible they're not actually "photographs" but a totally different form of communication? Could they even be important and meaningful? 

    Grades: 9-12

Producer:
Producer: