ACRL DVC Lightning Talk

I gave 10 minute lightning talk at the ACRL DVC (Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association of College & Research Libraries) Fall 2017 Conference, “Fact, False, or Just Flawed: Critically Examining News in the Age of Truthiness”.

The event was held on Friday, November 17, 2017 at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

About the Conference:

Speakers were invited to speak about new campus partnerships, programs, or resources that addresses news literacy that could potentially help teach people to spot false, misleading, and all other shades of duplicitous public discourse.

Suggested topics included:

  • Statistics in reporting
  • Scientific studies in the news
  • Bias in the news
  • Evaluating non-textual information (e.g. photos, video, info-graphics)
  • Government sources
  • Filter bubbles

More info on the conference:


Unfortunately I do not have a recording of the talk, however this talk was adapted from a longer talk (30 min) I gave at the Drexel SPARK! Librarian Conference. That one was recorded and you can view it here. The lightning talk covers similar topics but in a much more condensed way.


My Proposal:

Given the extremely democratic, popularity-based selection bias of memes, especially in the context of online virality, what tends to “catch on” is often watered down, oversimplified or skewed from the original. What would a critical, thoughtful, and educational approach to this type of content actually look like, in practice? In fact, there is a growing online community that already does this, and we can learn a lot from it.

In early 2015, meme-makers in search of novelty suddenly turned en masse to history and literature as a way of enriching their comedic repertoire. This has resulted in a surge of meme content about history, philosophy, and the sciences being created and spread across social media. Hundreds of thousands of students, hobbyists, as well as serious academics are already congregating around these memepages and their porous community structures, which function as hubs for collaboration, community education, and memetic experimentation.

I have been following, participating, and stewarding my own niche in this community since some of its earliest days, and I would like to talk about the practices, habits, and structures of these communities of learning. I intend for the talk to be a concise introduction to the community both from an anthropological perspective, as well as a graphic design perspective. It will be based on my research as a Learning Innovation Fellow at Drexel’s ExCITe Center, as well as my background as an editor and content creator for a Facebook page called “The Philosopher’s Meme,” an educational memepage which currently has over 200,000 followers.