The joke Meme Economy is a now real thing called NASDANQ

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The joke Meme Economy is a now real thing called NASDANQ

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Meme Economy is a particularly self-aware corner of Reddit, where the popularity of memes are prognosticated on with impressively little comedy or context. It’s like an airless cube of self-reflexive commentary, and it is, depending on your stomach for such things, either the swirling epicenter of Reddit’s vapidity or an ongoing, loving commentary on that vapidity. Recontextualizing stock-market terminology to debate memes and anti-memes provides a way to obsess over memes without actually talking about anything, thus preserving the joke.

But greater debate is needed. As The Verge reports, a 12-person team of meme economists is attempting to create an actual stock market for them called NASDANQ. They’re still finessing the way it’ll work, but it’s not dissimilar from the construction of a video game economy, with certain allotted starting credits and rulesets that click into place as people work together to create firms, introduce memes to the market, and bid on their popularity. They’re hard at work figuring out what will determine each meme’s value—image-based memes vs. text-based memes, which social platform(s) they are popular on, what constitutes “value,” and so on. They’ve been toiling away, according to the article, since August, which means NASDANQ is actually older than the Meme Economy subreddit, strangely.

If they get a system working, it’ll be an interesting and/or reprehensible outgrowth of Reddit’s increasingly nihilistic attitude toward its own sense of humor, an antithetical response to the real-world sophistry about Pepe The Frog, Harambe, et al. If history has proven anything, though, it is that Reddit is displeased, and coming up with a set of rules and value metrics that pleases everyone there sounds like a nigh-impossible task. (You should see the way Dota fans react to patch notes, for example.)

And, of course, articles like this one undermine the entire enterprise. A link to The Verge article is currently on the first page of r/MemeEconomy, captioned: “SELL EVERYTHING. Meme Economy is dead.” The market is fickle.

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