Antimatter co-creator and wit “to be able to shitpost, you have to understand the subject matter really well,” Jonathan Libov deadpans. Shitposting, he said, “is the pinnacle of human consciousness.”
As ridiculous as his idea may sound, Libov actually has a point. Antimatter is a five-person team working with a small amount of venture capital to create the most memey educational technology company on the market. Their premise is straightforward: in order to create an effective meme, one must have a solid grasp of the subject matter.
“I talked to my best friend from college who is now a high school history teacher, and he said, “I use memes all the time in the classroom,” Libov said.
The educational framework Bloom’s Taxonomy, which describes how students can best retain what they learn, was introduced to him by a mutual friend. Students who need to pass a vocabulary quiz may cram the words from flash cards into their heads the night before the exam, do well on the quiz, and then forget what they learned. On the other hand, the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is to apply one’s knowledge in novel ways. No student has time to write a three-act play about the causes of World War I, but everyone has time to create a meme about it.
Libov emphasised that this was not a joke. As “just the smallest stories that humans invented,” teachers can assign meme analysis to ensure that their students fully grasp the material.
There was a private beta test of Antimatter in the spring, and now any educator can sign up and set up a “studio” for their class. The Antimatter team was surprised that a better meme generator didn’t already exist, so they built one into the app. Now students can make memes mocking the latest lesson in their AP European History class or illustrating a physics concept that’s best explained with visual aids. Members of the studio can “bless” a meme with their approval and leave comments on the works of their fellow members.
Antimatter was inspired by Libov’s personal experiences on the internet, and he is a former analyst at Union Square Ventures and product lead at Bloomberg L.P.
“I was a part of a small number of learning meme communities,” Libov said. “These included places like the Physics Memes subreddit and the Daily Roman Updates on Twitter.”
However, it was Instagram pages like History Memes Explained that really drove home the point; not only do they post memes, but they also provide a description of the meme’s origin story, so that even those who don’t get the joke can pick up some new information.
Antimatter is currently free for educators, but Libov anticipates that the platform will seek to generate revenue through paid subscriptions in the future. Even if a teacher doesn’t have access to Antimatter, students can still benefit from it by using it to research topics of interest or create their own educational memes. The risk of false memes being posted by users exists in any online database; however, in a controlled environment like a classroom, students and teachers can discuss why a particular meme may need some revision.
Libov has stated that the ultimate goal is to “rewrite Wikipedia in memes, shitposts, animation, and video.”