Rocketboom on Memes: A Sisyphean Task?

Given how old most web phenomena are, the folks at Rocketboom have their work cut out for them with the Know Your Meme video series and accompanying database, an attempt to track the origins of various Internet culture standards (and expand the Rocketboom brand). You might even be reminded of the tragic fate of Sisyphus, because as soon as they’ve caught up with the last four or five years of ridiculous online in-jokes, there’ll be two dozen more memes waiting to be covered.

The execution of the video segments is slick, well-informed and fast-paced, in part thanks to segment host/Rocketboom co-producer Kenyatta Cheese (which is, for the record, possibly my favorite name in all of online video). Cheese does a solid job of explaining concepts like Boom Goes the Dynamite and lip-dubbing: coverage of the latter spans everything from Paul McCartney to Andy Kaufman to Numa Numa. The series’ use of old-timey music and graphics draws on the aesthetic of 1950s educational filmstrips — although the Rocketboom Institute for Internet Studies looks an awful lot like an editing suite filled with people wearing lab coats.

Know Your Meme‘s usefulness as a catalog of web trends will only kick in once they catch up with the immense backlog of open phenomena and can move onto covering more up-to-date phenomena. But I’m a romantic. I can’t help but admire those who take on impossible tasks.