As Newberry College, in Newberry, South Carolina, announces is now offering a social media undergraduate major, the world of social media and internet memes has received yet another boost of academic credibility.
According to HuffPo, Kate Miltner, a research assistant and social media collective at Microsoft Research, found enough inspiration in 'LOLCats' and other popular internet memes to write her London School of Economics masters dissertation on the topic.
Miltner's dissertation, SRSLY PHENOMENAL: An Investigation Into The Appeal Of LOLCATS, answers the question: "'Why in the name of Ceiling Cat are LOLCats so popular?' What is it about LOLCats that not only fueled their initial popularity, but helped maintain it for years?"
This could be the first attempt to connect a topic's online popularity to the serious world of academia. Miltner noted that much, according to HuffPo, when she wondered how something so popular as LOLCats hasn't gotten any serious academic treatment.
Miltner's work, however, is no light on academic research. She traces the kittens' evolution out of the Web 2.0 space and examines how "the rise of participatory culture and user-generated content mixed with 'vernacular creativity' and joys of 'the production of the everyday' launched the cats onto the ruling seat of the Memesphere."