I put on my outfit My dad is going to sue you and I prepared to become rich by selling … memes.
It was 9 o’clock on a Thursday morning, early enough that the memes about Donald Trump would not yet reach the networks. Feeling lucky, I bought 30 shares of $ TRMP. Immediately, 21 percent plummeted. But I was not discouraged: there was plenty of time for the president to make his own.
No, I’m not living in a fantasy land. I am connected to Nasdanq, a site that allows you to “bet” on the value of Internet memes, similar to how you could bet on shares of a public company in the stock market. Sure, here you do not use real money to play, but there is still the satisfaction of knowing that you are an expert on the Internet.
Memes are much more than a digital distraction. These helped revive Rick Astley’s career and sent the founder of Oculus into the shadows. They have penetrated international diplomatic efforts; The Russian embassy in the UK published photos of Pepe the Frog and recorded thousands of retuits in the process.
The stock market represents the current value of a company based on expectations of how it will be carried out in the future. Similarly, the Nasdanq can give you an idea of what meme is about to become a viral phenomenon.
Imitation stock markets are not something new. The so-called Hollywood Stock Exchange allows players to “invest” in actors, rewarding those who find hidden stars before their big success. The University of Iowa developed the Iowa Electronic Markets for business school students to learn how the economy works. Now they are used to forecast elections.
Memes were a logical step.
The Nasdanq began as a joke about six months ago, and has its origins in the subreddit of Meme Economy, but now its members use it to make a recount of the latest trends in Web culture. SpongeBob memes are still the most coveted, as are Intel’s actions, while the famous Rene Rene meme, known in the U.S. As Evil Kermit has been on a downward spiral since January.
The value of becoming viral
Brandon Wink, one of the moderators of the subreddit Meme Economy, teamed up with seven people he met there to build the memes market for Wall Street wolves. This market launched on Wednesday of last week as a closed beta.
The name is a play on words between the Nasdaq stock market and “Dank,” a slang term that originated in the marijuana community and was transformed to mean almost anything.
The team set out to take something subjective and give it a quantifiable value. While companies in the stock market have quarterly sales and earnings to measure, the value of a meme has to do with its relevancy and popularity. Who does not remember the famous Mannequin Challenge?
“That’s the hard part, it’s something we’re actively working on and trying to find an algorithm for,” said Kyle Stratis, one of the software engineers behind Nasdanq. “Part of our goal is to make it a bit more objective and make it more concrete.”
Nasdanq shares are supposed to go up using algorithms that look for meme popularity and sentiment analysis. Pepe the Frog’s memes may be very popular, but its negative connotation means that it would not succeed in the market, Stratis said.
The price of Nasdanq is determined by data experts who evaluate sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. The more popular a phrase is, the more value it has in the simulator. The memes ticker by Angela Merkel, rose 9.826 percent during an increase in mentions of the German chancellor’s name on social networks after she met with President Trump. Then he fell quickly.
The current formula in the Nasdanq beta is based on how the real economy works, although memes do not work that way. In a real economy, the popularity of a company’s products means growth for action. But if a meme becomes viral, its value will collapse as soon as everyone makes the same joke. Think about how funny Crying Jordan’s face was, and how monotonous it looked once you started seeing it all over.
It still has its ‘bugs’
Stratis is looking to repair those problems before Nasdanq opens to the public. Your goal is to make a fun game, with data analysis on memes as an additional bonus. He and his team are aiming for an official release for December.
“Everyone has a sense of what is popular in their own bubble or their own circle,” Stratis said about memes. “We are giving it a concrete figure.”