An Xiao Mina is an artist, designer, writer and technologist  whose deep interest is in networked creativity and cultural uses of technology, not forgetting her undying passion for memes.

Find out what we discovered in the interview.

An Xiao Mina

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Memes, memes and more memes, so what are memes?
A meme, in short, is a viral internet phenomenon. Like a virus, it spreads quickly and morphs and changes as it goes. If you’ve ever shared a funny chicken image or made your own chicken joke, you’ve participated in a meme.

So when did start your research on Memes?
I’ve always loved and enjoyed memes, for as long as I’ve been using the internet. However, I began researching them more intently when I was living in China and witnessed the variety of memes used in civic life. Despite all I’d heard about the stringent nature of China’s internet censorship, I found that memes were flourishing as a form of social and political expression.

You worked with Ai Wei we. What was your experience?
I learned from Ai Weiwei the importance of humor. He has a keen sense of wit, online and offline, and he’s definitely embraced all facets of internet culture, including its wacky, irreverent nature. How many international activists do you know have danced to the Gangnam Style video?

Who do you look up to?
I look up to anyone who speaks out bravely about what they believe in.

Which schools did you go to?
The School of Hard Knocks 😉

How do you describe yourself?
I’m an artist, designer, writer and technologist. I have a deep interest in networked creativity and cultural uses of technology. I wear a lot of hats!

Tell us about your Ugandan Experience. Was it fruitful? Did you find what you were looking for?
I very much enjoyed my time in Uganda and look forward to being back. I was quite grateful to you and Ivan for introducing me to many of the amazing memes in Uganda and helping me understand them. The more I learn about internet cultures around the world, the more I realize the importance of memes, humor and networked expression in civic life.

I also enjoyed learning more about how Ugandans are using technology in both rural and urban contexts. When I spent some time in Oyam, near Gulu, I saw youth using the internet for Facebook, Nigerian comedies and listening to music. I don’t think enough research is being done on how people around the world use the internet and computers for joy and delight–these uses are often dismissed, but if my research on memes shows anything, joy and delight are central to how we use the internet.

Married? Kids? Dating?
No comment!

How would like to be remembered?
This is a tough question! I hope to be remembered as someone who lived her life with both passion and compassion.


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