So I'm speaking at WFUD today on Fair Use and the business side of Internet Memes (with Ben Huh and Tim Hwang.) Considering the subject, I figured that it would be a good time to talk about one of the core ideas behind the schema for Know Your Meme: Content, Code, Community.
In a nutshell:
+ Develop Code (software, mission, rules) to fill a Community need.
+ Create original Content based on the activity of the Community.
+ Use the revenue from that Content to continue funding the evolution of the Code and the activity of the Community.
Mind you, the general idea isn't new. It's reddit, Digg, and Slashdot. Any site that relies on community activity to generate pages (and page views) does this: bring in revenue by selling display ads (and sometimes branded merchandise but not much more) based off of the community activity.
What we did differently was create original content (meme episodes) based on the community work. The "Institute for Internet Studies" is a fictional universe with its own mythology that started with videos but then expanded into books, apps, and other properties. The content is high margin so it generates enough cash to expand the community and evolve the code.
And in all of this content, we wanted to make the community complicit in its creation. They know what we're doing, they know why we're doing it, and they're doing it with us. Their work is the basis of our scripts. Their curation are our clip montages.most of the media supporting each entry is community generated, public domain, or created under Fair Use. When a community's work is non-market, their sense of ownership is often stronger than if they were being paid for it. We wanted to do Know Your Meme in a way that respected the original meme work and celebrated the community activity in a way that didn't treat it as commodity.