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Indiana University Researchers Get $1 Million Grant To Study Memes

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the oh-long-johnson dept.

The Almighty Buck 126

An anonymous reader writes with news that the NSF has just awarded a group of researchers a grant to study the life cycle of memes. "Indiana University is receiving nearly $1 million in federal grant money to investigate the genesis, spread, and demise of Internet memes. The grant from the National Science Foundation awards four Indiana researchers $919,917 to for a project called Truthy that will, as the grant's abstract explains, "explore why some ideas cause viral explosions while others are quickly forgotten." (And yes, in case you're wondering, the name was inspired by Stephen Colbert's neologism "truthiness.") The government-funded research is aimed at identifying which memes are organic and which ones are mere astroturf. "While the vast majority of memes arise in a perfectly organic manner, driven by the complex mechanisms of life on the Web, some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns," Truthy's About page explains."

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I know some good memes they can study (2)

Quarters (18322) | about a month ago | (#47773059)

Up the road at Purdue University there are always quite a lot of memes about Indiana University. They're all really negative, so that might affect the study results.

Re:I know some good memes they can study (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773599)

Right up there with studying why summer is hot, hot women are attractive, and why politicians are corrupt.

Let me help them (0)

sinij (911942) | about a month ago | (#47773061)

First post, hot gritz, car analogy, robotic overlords, Beowulf cluster.

Re:Let me help them (3, Funny)

fisted (2295862) | about a month ago | (#47773069)

Look, there are over 9000 memes, but your list doesn't contain any.

Re:Let me help them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773089)

Perhaps he accidentally them.

Re:Let me help them (1)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about a month ago | (#47773209)

He had a meme, but he ated it.

Re: Let me help them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773285)

Mr. T ate my balls.

Re:Let me help them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773101)

Look, there are over 9000 memes, but your list doesn't contain any.

I see what you did there...

Re:Let me help them (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47773125)

Natalie Portman naked and petrified, karma whoring, ASCII Goatse/Penis Bird, only old Koreans use that anymore, BSD is dying, GNAA, The Lone Gunmen Are Dead, OMG Ponies, Twitter sockpuppets [slashdot.org] , nobody wants an HTPC, hosts file, Buck Feta...

Any more?

Re:Let me help them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773143)

There are insane amounts of memes. Very few of them are used globally but every subculture appears to have their a bunch.

Re:Let me help them (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month ago | (#47773157)

Editors can't spell (or read), that gross poop eating guy, Time Cube guy, Cowboy Neil, dupes.

I'm sure there's plenty more.

Re:Let me help them (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773275)

1)

First post, hot gritz, car analogy, robotic overlords, Beowulf cluster.

2)

Natalie Portman naked and petrified, karma whoring, ASCII Goatse/Penis Bird, only old Koreans use that anymore, BSD is dying, GNAA, The Lone Gunmen Are Dead, OMG Ponies, Twitter sockpuppets [slashdot.org] , nobody wants an HTPC, hosts file, Buck Feta...

Any more?

3) Profit!!!

Re:Let me help them (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a month ago | (#47773301)

All your base belong us! How would you forgotten this one :-)?

Re:Let me help them (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about three weeks ago | (#47773751)

In Soviet Russia, you are belong to our base!

Re:Let me help them (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about three weeks ago | (#47773499)

Plenty of them from 4chan:

Cockmongler
Happy Negro
Reidick ("She is cute, that is why she is called Rei-chan!")
Nigra Cell (before it was sanitized and turned into "SHOOP DA WOOP")
Bix Nood
Milhouse is not a meme (is a meme)
Longcat (again, before Reddit got their filthy hands on it)
Divided by Zero
SAFETY CAR
Hoodpins
Pool's Closed, AIDS, etc.
Dio Brando (and his cry of "WRYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY")
DUWANG
PROMOTIONS
W.T. Snacks (Around Snacks, CP was lax)
Ondore ("Don't believe Ondore's lies! I'm Captain Basch fon Ronsenburg of Dalmasca!")
Has anyone ever gone so far
Hanyuu (really the entirety of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni)
PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF CAKE (and really, the entirety of Umineko no Naku Koro ni)
I'm going to post this every day until you like it ("How does a polar bear know what apples is?")
That fucking cat

I'm sure I forgot some.

Re: Let me help them (1)

JWW (79176) | about three weeks ago | (#47774491)

The year of the Linux Desktop.

Re: Let me help them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774831)

Windows is secure

Another pile of nostalgic /. memes (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47773167)

Emacs vs. vi vs. viper-mode fence sitters, GNOME vs. KDE, Bill Gates as a Borg, Get Some Priorities (after a major natural disaster or terrorist attack), Less space than a Nomad, .page .widening, my UID is lower than yours, Stephen King is dead, You fail it, You insensitive clod, early versions of Mac OS X (later Windows Vista) taking 20 minutes to copy a 17 MB file, will we see it before Duke Nukem Forever (which became "before Valve releases 3" once DNF finally came out), "Taco snotting" and other slashfic, RTFA (read the fucking article) and its bowdlerization to "the featured article"...

mv ./slashdot/this_story ./reddit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773073)

FTFY!

ERROR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773087)

What's this doing on the homepage... it's from IDLE!

One does not simply get paid to surf the Web (2, Interesting)

Brewmeister_Z (1246424) | about a month ago | (#47773119)

I don't always get paid to surf the Web but when I do, I make sure to get a grant that could have gone to a better cause...

Memes = Politics? (1)

xdor (1218206) | about a month ago | (#47773211)

What better cause than redirecting $919,917 to help market a high-profile congressional campaign.

Re:Memes = Politics? (4, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about three weeks ago | (#47773445)

The odd part of this story is when it says:

some are engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns

yet I'm failing to think of even one example of a viral meme that fits into that category. I mean, yeah, trigger words for government funding and all that, but even one?

If somebody wants to tell me that Nanci Pelosi's people came up with Doge, OK, fine, I'd believe it, but I've never heard any such insinuations.

Re:Memes = Politics? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773787)

Death panels. Obamacare. Birthers. The memes don't have to be jokes.

Re:Memes = Politics? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about three weeks ago | (#47773921)

Death panels. Obamacare. Birthers. The memes don't have to be jokes.

You might be able to argue that "Death panels" was "engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns" (Sarah Palin is credited with coining the term), but definitely not "Obamacare" (the media promoted that one), or "Birthers", which was certainly an organic meme, to describe people questioning Obama's origins. It's also a form of the "something-ers" form of describing a group (deniers, anti-vacciners, etc.), which as I recall sprang out of calling the 9/11 conspiracy theorists "truthers".

Re:Memes = Politics? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about three weeks ago | (#47773953)

You might be able to argue that "Death panels" was "engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns" (Sarah Palin is credited with coining the term), but definitely not "Obamacare" (the media promoted that one),

A quick glance around the internets suggests that it was promoted by the Romney campaign, including his self, but has a history going back reps calling single-payer health care "Hillarycare". So no, definitely "Obamacare" as well.

Re:Memes = Politics? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about three weeks ago | (#47774179)

You might be able to argue that "Death panels" was "engineered by the shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns" (Sarah Palin is credited with coining the term), but definitely not "Obamacare" (the media promoted that one),

A quick glance around the internets suggests that it was promoted by the Romney campaign, including his self, but has a history going back reps calling single-payer health care "Hillarycare". So no, definitely "Obamacare" as well.

No doubt Romney's campaign used the term, but it was in widespread use long before then. Everything that I've read indicates that Hillary's primary campaign actually coined the term, so you might have a point that it was a campaign that promoted, but both of those were presidential campaigns, not "shady machinery of high-profile congressional campaigns."

Re:Memes = Politics? (2)

xdor (1218206) | about three weeks ago | (#47773939)

Which is why I suggest the grant money to study memes is really to fund a high-profile congressional campaign's viral marketing budget, using this pretense of "testing" political memes. Especially, if by some coincidence, the memes tested are for said high-profile congressional campaign.

Either that or the article is just trolling...

Re:Memes = Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774043)

yet I'm failing to think of even one example of a viral meme that fits into that category.

Poor guy can't even think of a political meme. Thanks Obama!

Re:Memes = Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774105)

job creator
gotcha journalism
Joe the plumber ...come to mind. However, these examples have come full circle and now are essentially used only by comedians to riducule and satirize those that use them.

Re:Memes = Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774155)

Rmoney?

Re:Memes = Politics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774213)

Stay the course
Mission Accomplished
Thanks Obama!
Tough on crime
Think of the children
Taxed enough already
Hope and Change
Obama* (Obamacare, Obamaphone)
Corporations are people too my friend

You have heard of hundreds and just have not realized it. The standard political practice of this generation is to pounce on opportunities and take the credit, not actually make things happen*. Political campaign managers usually take what other people have said and run with it if it is beneficial to them. NPR did a brief story about it a couple years ago. [npr.org]

*They do the same thing with wars too.

Origin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773135)

Haven't read all of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness#Adoption_of_the_term_by_Colbert

But is Colbert's definition a new definition for the word, or was it predefined by someone else beforehand? I'm assuming it was a new definition of a word that existed before, with Colbert popularizing the word itself.

LOL .... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a month ago | (#47773137)

I, for one, welcome our new meme-studying overlords.

Re:LOL .... (2)

itsdapead (734413) | about a month ago | (#47773163)

I, for one, welcome our new meme-studying overlords.

In Soviet Russia, memes study you!

Interesting. (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a month ago | (#47773159)

One doesn't have to see the value in stuff that isn't immediately applicable R&D(and I'm not here to debate the point, do as you will); but if you are OK with the concept of such research this actually seems like a pretty good idea:

The question of how and why ideas, 'culture', religions, new scientific hypotheses, etc. are transmitted and compete with one another is really a very long standing one. A lot of the historical study emphasizes 'elite' culture and theory(mostly because everything else was oral record only, and that doesn't keep well; but written works sometimes survive) or religious(high frequency of literacy, and proselytizing is a technology of considerable interest to contemporary religions); but there is also study of popular culture, folk mythologies, what the middle and lower classes were reading and watching(once that became common), and so on.

Cultural transmission is a very solid social science topic, and internet memes have the dual virtues of both potentially being novel(they might actually follow some traditional propagation pattern, might be something new, either way would be interesting to know) and being amenable to large-scale analysis because the internet is just so conveniently searchable and heavily cached in various places. You don't have to like the entire field; but this research project seems like a perfectly reasonable exercise.

Re:Interesting. (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about three weeks ago | (#47773579)

Cultural transmission is a very solid social science topic

"Social science" is an oxymoron. Science is not a field. It's a methodology, and social sciences fail miserably at applying that methodology. It's undoubtedly an interesting academic exercise, but let's not pretend it's something that it's not.

One could possibly make the argument for spending money on social research like this were we not currently in a long-term deficit spending pattern. As it is, we simply don't have the money to waste. Just because a million dollars is a tiny fraction of the federal budget doesn't mean I shouldn't care that the government just pissed away a million of our tax dollars on something that is virtually guaranteed to have zero real impact on the lives of the people that funded the research.

Re:Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773859)

One could possibly make the argument for spending money on social research like this were we not currently in a long-term deficit spending pattern.

Or, one could spend the money to confirm that policies are working as advertised ... the problem is the Republicans wouldn't like that, because they don't make evidence based policy, they make policy based on their own perceived truthiness of the thing.

Because, if someone actually measured if cutting taxes for the wealthy made society better and stimulated the economy, they'd quickly discover it's a crock of shit which only serves the wealthy.

You might also discover that poverty alleviation and creating jobs cuts crime, and costs you less than prisons do.

But, again, the people who oppose these things don't function based on evidence.

I think social science carries a lot of value in its potential to demonstrate how much economic policy is terribly thought out, doesn't work as advertised, and it in fact a great big giant lie.

America wastes billions, because it's unwilling to invest millions to solve actual problems ... because apparently it's more ideologically pure to waste money on the stuff that doesn't work but panders to your base, than it is to recognize that your ideology is just plain wrong.

Re:Interesting. (1)

MisterSquid (231834) | about three weeks ago | (#47774897)

The question of how and why ideas, 'culture', religions, new scientific hypotheses, etc. are transmitted and compete with one another is really a very long standing one. [. . .]

Cultural transmission is a very solid social science topic, and internet memes have the dual virtues of both potentially being novel(they might actually follow some traditional propagation pattern, might be something new, either way would be interesting to know) and being amenable to large-scale analysis because the internet is just so conveniently searchable and heavily cached in various places.

While a bit dated and somewhat intellectually renegade, Marshall McLuhan has done much to talk about how print fostered literacy (duh) and the transmission of ideas in a stable form across human cultures in The Gutenberg Galaxy (i.e. Gutenberg Bible and the enablement of Christianity as a proselytizing religion with a relatively stable population of "practicing" Christians all "reading" the same text). However, his writing style is a bit mimetic of the illuminated manuscript and he communicates his point in a way that makes sense to scholars of literature and critical theory. McLuhan's work is not your usual dry, codified sociocultural study of the effects of media!

But the above was only a momentary detour on the way to the work of Susan Blackmore who is interested in the evolution of life on Earth and the question of whether life on Earth will make it to the point where it can successfully leave its planet of origin. Her talk is entitled "Memes and 'temes' [ted.com] " (yes, it's a TED talk) and is fascinating in terms of how she thinks about memes and the transmission of ideas in a Darwinian model.

I wonder if the researchers in Indiana have any interest in the area Blackmore stakes out in her talk. Would be great if they did.

I'd love to mock this grant... (1)

guevera (2796207) | about three weeks ago | (#47775531)

...but I'm finding it hard to really get too worked up about.

We are planning to buy almost F-35s at a price of approx. $188 million per. This is a plane that in the words of Rand corp (hardly an anti-military outfit) "can't turn, can't climb, can't run" well enough to dogfight.

We are planning to buy a total of 10 Ford class aircraft carriers, at a cost of more than $11 billion per ship. The Chinese seem to think they can neutralize our carriers with cheap ballistic missiles and attack subs. Lots of experts think they may be right. But even if they aren't that will leave us with twice as many fleet carriers as the rest of the world combined.

Compared to that, I think a million bucks to study the life cycle of memes is a bargain.

3 steps. No, 4. (2)

drainbramage (588291) | about a month ago | (#47773169)

1: Find idiots in government handing out other peoples money (redundant)
2: Apply for grant
3: ???
4: Profit

Re:3 steps. No, 4. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773221)

Umm give me the million dollars I solved this meme:

1. Apply for grant
2. Find idiots in government handing out other peoples money
3. Profit!

facepalm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773183)

Obligatory xkcd, you insensitive clod!

Re:facepalm (1)

SpzToid (869795) | about a month ago | (#47773231)

Or it didn't happen.

The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (3, Insightful)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about a month ago | (#47773187)

This year the federal government moved $550 billion closer to default and the collapse of the dollar.

Just thought I would point that out, since it seems relevant.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (3, Insightful)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about a month ago | (#47773323)

Oh, it's absolutely relevant. I don't care if I get modded off-topic. I've got plenty of karma.

Quite frankly, this sort of stuff is insane when we're continuously running a massive deficit. No one likes to hear this, but we really need to crank down the government spigot at so many levels it's no longer even funny. We simply don't have the money to be spending on what I'll generously term "discretionary" research. It's not just grants either, which admittedly take up a very small portion of the budget.

The military budget is out of control. Yes, we live in a dangerous world, but we need to ask the rest of the civilized nations to help share the burden a bit (and this is coming from a somewhat conservative hawk), or perhaps scale back our overseas adventures. Our social program expenditures and pensions are ballooning even worse than military spending. We just passed another hugely expensive entitlement (health care reform), but with no regard to how the government is going to pay for it without crippling increases in taxes, deficit spending, or inflationary money printing. The NSA is spending billions to harvest and process all the data on the internet passing through the US for questionable benefits and even more questionable legality.

The federal government has demonstrated time and time and time again that they can't be trusted to balance the budget in a fiscally responsible manner. It's always more politically expedient to pass the buck to the next generation, and when the time comes to really tackle the problem, it's going to be really painful for everyone. Federal spending money is power, and that power is apparently just too damned addictive to resist. It would be best to deal with it as soon as possible and in a responsible manner over time, just like with any debt incurred.

A few other nations have been hopping on the constitutional balanced budget requirement. Maybe it's time to join them? I haven't quite made up my mind, but I'm definitely leaning towards support right now. A number of Keynsian economists argue against it, saying that it's best to allow deficit spending in bad economic times, but seeing as we never seem to STOP deficit spending in recent years, it's hard to make that argument with a straight face.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (-1, Troll)

denzacar (181829) | about three weeks ago | (#47773377)

TLDR.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (-1, Flamebait)

jratcliffe (208809) | about three weeks ago | (#47773429)

"We just passed another hugely expensive entitlement (health care reform), but with no regard to how the government is going to pay for it without crippling increases in taxes, deficit spending, or inflationary money printing."

This claim is either ignorant, or you're just lying. The ACA _reduces_ the deficit over time - the incremental taxes in the bill more than pay for the incremental costs of it.

http://blogs.marketwatch.com/h... [marketwatch.com]

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

mean pun (717227) | about three weeks ago | (#47773521)

Moreover, it is also very likely to be an astroturfed meme.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

jratcliffe (208809) | about three weeks ago | (#47773729)

That it is, that it is.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about three weeks ago | (#47773777)

Large government-sponsored programs have a notorious history of exploding far beyond predicted budgetary constraints. We'll see in another few years or so if that prediction, turns out to be accurate. History is on my side, unfortunately.

Even so, I'll go ahead and concede the point. Fine, let's say the new health care program has zero impact on the budget, or perhaps a negligible effect. I should also have not used the phrase "with no regard to how the government is going to pay for it", because obviously that's not true, as the budgetary effects were studied by the CBO. Better?

It's completely besides the point I was making, which is that the fact we've had record deficit spending for many years demonstrates we simply don't have excess money to waste. I don't believe the government's deficit spending is a partisan issue. It's pretty obvious that unless we eventually reign things in, we're going to be in real trouble later down the road. You don't agree?

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about three weeks ago | (#47774295)

Actually, the CBO report is a lot more rosy than the GAO report (GAO being generally more reliable):

http://www.nationalreview.com/... [nationalreview.com]

I wonder if the CBO report counts as astroturfing? :)

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about three weeks ago | (#47773811)

That was mostly through cutting Medicare payments, not the new mandates. Remains to be seen if this was an improvement in efficiency or a reduction of services

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773831)

The ACA _reduces_ the deficit over time
You believe them? I'm sorry. Remember these are the exact same people who lied about the NSA. These are the same people who said relaxing the rules on lending would be a good thing. These are the same people who relaxed the rules to create massive derivative markets. These are the same people who lie for a living.

The ACA has increased my insurance bill by 3x. I'm sorry how is that LOWER? My premium went up and my deductible went up and what is covered mostly went down. It now costs me about 2x per doctor visit. On the other end (I see the bills) has already gone up by about 2x. You add money to a system and prices will go up. You do not beat simple economics. You cant.

The ACA is nothing more than mandated insurance with rules on who can not be dropped. I read the thing. Which our politicians could not be assed to do (you had one job).

Many of the people who can not afford insurance are being tossed into medicade pools which many confuse with medicare. Read up on what medicade does to family wealth. It is not pretty. They want their money back. It is a government mandated loan, not free health insurance. Things like 'oh your mother just died and now the gov wants 300k'. They are in front of all other creditors too including mortgage lenders. So instead of picking up your moms mortgage and renting the place out to make ends meet. You have to sell the thing and cover her medical bills the gov fronted for you. This hits the people least able to afford it too. The poor.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/
http://www.usdebtclock.org/2008.html

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about three weeks ago | (#47774097)

So, if the ACA reduces the deficit, but we build programs that spend that extra money and *more*, are we really reducing the deficit? :)

Compare the GAO report to the CBO report:

http://www.nationalreview.com/... [nationalreview.com]

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (2, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about three weeks ago | (#47773507)

Quite frankly, this sort of stuff is insane when we're continuously running a massive deficit.

No, not even slightly. The reason you're running a massive defecit is because you have dumped trillions into two pointless wars and the military industrial complex. It was such a dumb idea that even previous presidents have warned about such things.

Cutting back on basic research is a sure-fire way to hobble long term future development. The only way to do this successfully and on the scale and longevity required is via government funding.

etc...

Yes government spending is out of control. About the worst way of reignin it in is to cut down on basic research.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (2)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about three weeks ago | (#47773679)

Did you not even read my post? I'm agreeing with you about the military spending - it's a massive part of the federal budget. I'll even quote myself for your benefit, so you don't have to do all that pesky reading before typing up a reply.

The military budget is out of control. Yes, we live in a dangerous world, but we need to ask the rest of the civilized nations to help share the burden a bit (and this is coming from a somewhat conservative hawk), or perhaps scale back our overseas adventures.

And how exactly is meme investigation "basic research"? I'd really like to know how cutting frivolous grants like this will damage future meme propagation on the internet. I'm perfectly fine with federal dollars being judiciously spent on science which may have a real impact on our society or fundamental technology, or even of our understanding of the universe. This isn't it.

A million dollars is a tiny percentage of our federal budget, but that doesn't mean we should be pissing it away when we don't have a lot of excess money floating around.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about three weeks ago | (#47773955)

Yes I did: I summarised it as "etc".

We both agree military spending is out of control.

And how exactly is meme investigation "basic research"?

It's pretty solid social science as far as I see it. It's about better understanding of people.

I'd really like to know how cutting frivolous grants like this will damage future meme propagation on the internet.

It won't harm meme propagation, and if you believe that you seriously misunderstand the research (which is why decisions on such things should not be left to lay people). It's about better understanding of human behaviour.

I'm perfectly fine with federal dollars being judiciously spent on science which may have a real impact on our society or fundamental technology, or even of our understanding of the universe. This isn't it.

It's understanding of people, how they behave and so on. I don't see why the study of human behaviour is not a worthy topic of research.

Re: The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

JWW (79176) | about three weeks ago | (#47774567)

"Solid Social Science"

Wow. That pegged my oxymoron detector!

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | about three weeks ago | (#47775279)

It won't harm meme propagation, and if you believe that you seriously misunderstand the research

Whoosh? Just trying to be funny and failing as usual.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773575)

Why not?

Memetic ideas spread through people like wildfire.
It could be used to aid in many things.
It is a very psychological thing that can lead to great causes, or great riots and societal collapse.

It is like saying everyone ever needs to be concentrated on researching only "good" things, like cures for cancer, nanomaterials, engineering or whatever.
Why is it so bad to want to understand why people come together to enjoy something, even if said something is rioting?

At a stretch, this could even be researched to figure out more about the so-called anti-meme, and even further, what can make someone willingly want to not take part in things, which could be signs of someone unstable. (you can usually tell quite blatantly a difference between introversion and instability of ones mind)

I say go for it.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (1)

complete loony (663508) | about three weeks ago | (#47773617)

Where did the majority of your spending money begin its life? Bank loans. Remember that massive issue the banking sector had recently?

We need to get our economy off credit. We need to stop borrowing against every security we can find. Either we reduce our debts voluntarily, or we go bankrupt. Either way, we will reduce our debt level over the next 5-20 years. This is going to remove money from circulation. If the government runs a surplus, this will also remove money from circulation. If we stop deficit spending the economy will shrink and may falter.

Back in the 30's we were facing a similar (but much smaller) debt problem. The "new deal" in 1933(-ish) was a program of government spending that helped to reduce the impact of the Depression. When spending was cut in 1937, the economy dipped again. While the level of debt continued to drop, what finally eliminated the remaining debt was the massive spending and manufacturing to fight WWII.

Government deficit spending isn't the problem. It's the only thing that can save us from ruin as we inevitably reduce our debts.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774069)

The federal government has demonstrated time and time and time again that they can't be trusted to balance the budget in a fiscally responsible manner.

Know what isn't fiscally responsible? Cutting taxes for the wealthy under the lie of trickle down economics ... that somehow giving some rich asshole a tax break makes the economy work better.

If the elected rich assholes weren't giving themselves and their cronies sweetheart tax deals, and if people would spend money on things which actually fixed problems and stimulated the economy, then you'd be doing much better.

Instead people go to great pains to ensure that the wealthy and corporations pay less tax, and that the things which would actually benefit the rest of society don't actually happen.

Ask yourself how much money the US spends on private (for profit) prisons, and how much you could fix things if you spent a fraction of that cost on actually making your society less imbalanced and unequal.

The answer is you could fix more problems if you weren't stuck on a course of bullshit economics for which there is no evidence of the claimed outcomes.

But you're not interested in doing that, because you continue to belie idiots like Rand Paul and the Koch brothers.

What you call "fiscal responsibility" is really just self serving greed by a bunch of people who believe in a model of economics which is a complete lie.

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775509)

A number of Keynsian economists argue against [a simplistic amendment to balance the budget] saying that it's best to allow deficit spending in bad economic times....

Are you somehow operating under the misunderstanding that these are not bad economic times?

Re:The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775749)

One of the biggest costs are our elderly; medical care, an influx of nursing/elderly housing, etc is going to have a huge impact on us. Thus I believe that this research will HELP with our costs by inundating the baby boomers with doges, bases, and 9000s... eventually causing them to kill themselves through sheer stupidity. Win-win!

Though I wonder if they will find what percentage of people spread these stupid memes, and what percentage resists them.

Re: The federal deficit this year is $550 billion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775581)

If your evil imperium collapsed, fewer wars would happen.

What's needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773203)

Clearly what's needed is to make them into a meme themselves. In this way they can study themselves studying themselves studying themselves...

Re: What's needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773291)

Yo Dawg!

Re: What's needed (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about three weeks ago | (#47773983)

Explained joke is explained.

How about this one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773227)

#goldenfleece [wikipedia.org]

YOU DON'T SAY? (1)

advid.net (595837) | about a month ago | (#47773241)

I love memes.

I make sure to catch up with memes twice a month on specialized web sites, but they often come to me while browsing around.

I think they are now a good 33% of what really make me laugh on the web.

The Botched Christ [wikipedia.org] meme [knowyourmeme.com] and its parodies [google.com] is a major meme to me, I hope they won't forget this one

Why just internet memes? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a month ago | (#47773251)

Complex ones are still relevant, like language, religion and moral, even if the internet ones are more documented and have a more delimited life cycle. And they are risk to get their funds cut when they find the truth behind the ice bucket challenge,

Re:Why just internet memes? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about three weeks ago | (#47773525)

Because the Internet acts like a convenient system of record. More traditional memes, while going through many of the same spreads/transformations do so in a way that only leaves behind secondary evidence.

That stupid 2008 era lolcat, on the otherhand, has an upload date, comments, viewcounts, and a directly trackable spread path.

It's almost certain, knowing humanities academia, that any models that arise from this study will be used as a "template" in an attempt to understand more serious non-internet memes like those you mention.

Some people are afraid of this. (0)

nmoore (22729) | about a month ago | (#47773265)

Or, as the Washington Free Beacon and Fox News say (and several people submitted to /.): Feds Creating Database to Track Hate Speech on Twitter [foxnews.com] . Seriously.

Of course, it makes sense for Fox News to raise the alarm about attempts to expose astroturfing.

Some people are afraid of this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774139)

First line of the second paragraph of the first link in the summary:

"We also plan to use Truthy to detect political smears, astroturfing, misinformation, and other social pollution."

According to whom? So are they the repository of all Truth so they can determine what is misinformation and what isn't? And WTF is "social pollution"? One G-manÃ(TM)s Ãoesocial pollutionà is another free manÃ(TM)s First Amendment right.

Meme rush (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47773315)

There's federal money in them thar memes, boys.

What happened to serious research? (1)

rs1n (1867908) | about three weeks ago | (#47773349)

A million dollars? Really? It took us two years to finally get a little over half a million from the NSF for a program to help women and underprivileged kids get a foot hold into math, science, and engineering programs at our university. At least the money is going toward a good cause. I fail to see how the fruits of the Indiana University grant is going to benefit anyone other than the PI and CoPIs getting funding from this grant.

Re:What happened to serious research? (1)

makq (3730933) | about three weeks ago | (#47773411)

If you cannot see how it would benefit anyone, you do not have much of an imagination. It could benefit marketers or anyone who wants to spread a message. This could include public service announcements or charity groups.

Re:What happened to serious research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773529)

Research in one field is hard to explain to others not in same fields. I think an unbiased opinion from others in the area of this research (in this case, fellow researchers in complex systems) should weigh in and say the legitimacy of this project. I have respect of NSF peer review process and as every one is claiming, its not the federal govt fault for funding these projects (if incase it was inappropriate) but peers in the field endorsing this is good work. NSF proposals have 5 % or less success rate, so I think questing a proposal is about questioning the entire field.

As a guy whose worked in marketing... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about three weeks ago | (#47773659)

>> It could benefit marketers or anyone who wants to spread a message.

The multi-billion dollar marketing industry is WAY ahead of you. We are well aware of memes (as self-perpetuating brands or slogans) and have been successful launching quite a few of our own on behalf of our well-heeled customers for the past 80 or so years, e.g.,

"Bud" "Wise" "Er"
"So easy a caveman could do it."
"... Burma Shave"
"War on Women"

So...we're good over here. Why don't you just send that $1M back to the taxpayers?

Re:As a guy whose worked in marketing... (1)

makq (3730933) | about three weeks ago | (#47773699)

As someone who does not work in marketing, it seems like ad development is more like a crap shoot than a science. There are some major successes, but it seems there are 100's of failures for each of those.

Re:As a guy whose worked in marketing... (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about three weeks ago | (#47774189)

>> ad development is more like a crap shoot than a science

Crap shoots (e.g., deterministic systems) can be science too. Think of particle physics. Or today's story about the "one in decades" chance to film moving stones.

The "science" in marketing (focus groups, crowdsourcing, testing, brand affinity, etc.) can be used to take a pile of ".00001% successful" ideas to (let's say) "2-3% successful" ideas...which can still be valuable if each idea takes $10K to try but could bring in millions if successful.

Re:What happened to serious research? (1)

charronia (3780579) | about three weeks ago | (#47773467)

If artificial memes can be used to sway public opinion in a significant way, I would say finding a way to identify them is sufficiently important.

Re:What happened to serious research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773915)

What the fuck is "artificial" in this context? Is there some sort of legitimate meme factory somewhere, and some non-legitimate one making meme knockoffs?

Re:What happened to serious research? (1)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | about three weeks ago | (#47774379)

I agree. Purely for defensive & preventive purposes, of course.

Re: What happened to serious research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775505)

You should read richard tomlinsons ebook. It appears your education is at childs level.

Real Reason for funding this (5, Interesting)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | about three weeks ago | (#47773479)

From the extract:
"This service could mitigate the diffusion of false and misleading ideas, detect hate speech and subversive propaganda, and assist in the preservation of open debate. "
Or more aptly:
"This service could mitigate free speech, detect anything we don't agree with and allow us to control the message"

Re:Real Reason for funding this (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about three weeks ago | (#47773913)

Or maybe they do just want to do what they say, and they don't have a shadowy agenda.

Nice (1)

xdor (1218206) | about three weeks ago | (#47773989)

assist in the preservation of open debate

That has got to be the most beautiful characterization of censorship I have ever read.

new york is all for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775441)

After all they ned to tell you the truth about the benevolent nsa and why it is ok to keep gazans in a a big jail.
Also, the saudis are nice people who really dont own slaves.
Not.

I can has??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773565)

I can has 1 millon doler grant?

Now that is a study. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47773701)

It isn't hard to waste money, when it isn't yours.

And to believe there are Americans out there pining to give big G more tax income!

$1 million grant? (1)

PPH (736903) | about three weeks ago | (#47773909)

Shut up and take my money!

I don't always get a grant... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47774019)

But when I do, it is to study memes :)

Aren't they effectively astroturfing themselves? (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about three weeks ago | (#47774025)

Spend a million dollars, and astroturf the meme "evil republican congress people are trying to influence you with memes".

Back in reality-world:

http://www.freedomworks.org/co... [freedomworks.org] ‘one-nation’-just-liberal-astroturfing

http://mashable.com/2008/08/08... [mashable.com]

http://lonelyconservative.com/... [lonelyconservative.com]

http://dailycaller.com/2013/02... [dailycaller.com]

Politics... (1)

Ramley (1168049) | about three weeks ago | (#47774261)

It seems to me that whatever political party can effectively use this data first, has a great weapon in its arsenal.

Who invented the neologism meme? (2)

lippydude (3635849) | about three weeks ago | (#47774483)

Richard Dawkins invented meme specifically in relation to religion, in his book The Selfish Gene [arvindguptatoys.com] .

That was in 2011 (1)

davids-world.com (551216) | about three weeks ago | (#47774715)

This was in 2011, if you look at NSF's award page. And just to put things in perspective.. This sort of money is enough to pay for four graduate students (50% effort), some very limited summer time of two professors over the course of four years, and a modest amount of travel to conferences. It's a very good grant from a great source that allows you to get some good work done, but it doesn't go as far as the uninitiated might think.

a new one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775361)

With u.s. money a coup detat is financed. The new rulers want to ethnically cleanse one of their minorities in a fit of chauvinism.
They use mi 24 combat helos and su 24 frogfoot tankbusters for the cleansing.
The victicms dont allow themselves to be easily slaughtered. New york and london are really pissed about the victims.
Berlin plays the dumb vasall dog as always.

waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47775535)

$1 millon we don't have :(

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