The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262525435, English, 216 pages, 2013, USA
After plenty of pontificating by marketing and advertisement “experts” about how information can become spontaneously adopted and duplicated in massive ways (usually roughly and instantly called “viral”), we finally have a competent analysis of the fundamental mechanisms behind what has come to be called a digital “meme”. As Shifman defines it, meme is (a) “a group of digital items sharing common characteristics of content, form, and/or stance”, (b) “that were created with awareness of each other” and (c) “were circulated, imitated, and/or transformed via the Internet by many users”. In fact Limor analyses not only the surprising propagation effect and figures, but also the “collateral” effects of a meme, like the remixes induced and the conception and realisation of mimicries. Originating from famous definition by Richard Dawkins in 1976 meme is quite different from “viral”, which is the duplication of a single piece of information into many copies, while in memes the propagation is a sort of cultural chain reaction with a continuous mutation of the original content, still maintaining a universally recognisable legacy. And this process becomes even more sophisticated when memes implicitly refer to other memes, in what Shifman defines as “intertextuality” and forming a “socially constructed public discourse”. That’s why the analysis of political memes is particularly relevant, still maintaining, as in the rest of the book, an ironic tone that seems a perfect conceptual bridge between academic discourse and this extremely popular cultural topic.