it can be impossible to track down the origin of Internet memes, often funny ideas and goofy images with silly captions, and it often doesn't really explain how they morph from one thing (sometimes harmless) to something else (incredibly hateful). That's why it's not easy to explain the concept of "Dank memes," which has become a buzzword for either the best, most creative and funniest memes online, or the worst, dumbest and most offensive ones, depending on which community you ask online.
Because memes can be hilarious to one group, while wildly inappropriate or incomprehensible to others, dank memes seem to be defined as simply being of one extreme or another. Know Your Meme has chosen to go with the definition that "Dank meme" is used ironically to mean the uncoolest of them, but the way it's being used on sites such as Reddit and by those in the meme trenches suggest that there's still an unironic and abiding affection for even the dankest of memes. (Which could mean they're great or not great; we're not quite sure anymore.)
Why should you care? Because some memes have a way of infiltrating popular culture, such as the Internet horror character Slender Man or Grumpy Cat. And they can evolved in ugly ways, as with the initially innocuous cartoon character "Pepe The Frog" from artist Matt Furie, which has been co-opted by groups online to become a symbol of white supremacy and hate.
Every week, we’ll define a tech term, offer a timely tip or answer questions about technology from readers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or topic suggestions.
News on Open Source is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of 512tech.com comes with an American-Statesman digital subscription, which also includes myStatesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe at statesman.com/subscribe.