One “understanding media” change ongoing is a move to using images and video as personal communication mediums in addition to, or in place of, the traditional text.
Often social media conversations will feature video clips, Vines, still images, YouTube links, that stand in the place of a textual comment. Perhaps inevitably, as with emoticons, people will gravitate to a sort of “set of images” that everyone “knows” what they mean, or that one could expect one’s peers to understand. A form of shorthand, if you will.
Sometimes the “shorthand” of images needs some accompanying explanation that comes along with it. When the explanation and the image is available in a package we call that package a meme. A sort of group of ideas, or one dominant idea, that provides a “solid” way of understanding the world, or at least piece of the narrative people want to have to define their world. Perhaps also similar to idioms in text, but a meme is more elaborate.
An idiom is a shorthand textual “abstraction” of the way things are that stands in for more prosaic and detailed text. But a meme is more like a “way to perceive something”…as if one was putting on a certain kind of glasses to see the world. No apologies here that this is hard to talk about coherently, but this much is clear: Memes do exist, and have trends similar to other “pop” cultural items we share.
Memes will thus be part of the lingua franca of Social Learning Constructs, and the framework for sharing these will need to be intelligently structured for search and other discussion needs.
You may have heard of a current meme called “The Crying Jordan” which features the face of former NBA great Michael Jordan crying, superimposed on some other body in some other situation. One needs the explanation to go along with the image, to get the full reference or implied meanings.
There’s something called “Know Your Meme” which exists to supply that meaning if you don’t have it available as yet. This link discusses the meme “Confused Mr. Krabs/ When You Wake Up From a Nap”.
Here’s an example of one cited reference to this meme.