Iz not cats everywhere? Online trend spreads across campus

· November 14, 2007, 5:00 am

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Four days until Caturday.

That's Saturday for those who haven't yet caught on to the latest phenomenon to dominate the Internet and student lexicon - LOLcats.

That's LOL for "laugh out loud."

LOLcats are funny pictures of cats with captions attributed to them. The captions, meant to represent the cat talking, are rife with improper punctuation and strange syntax - the way Internet users imagine cats might speak.

Two years after LOLcats was created, the reveLOLtion has expanded beyond felines.

Appearing on message boards and blogs, the concept has been applied to images of robots, real people and other animals, even inspiring a project to translate the Bible to LOLcode.

And Penn is right on board.

One notable LOLPenn is a picture of Penn Hillel with the caption "Iz not kosher? DO NOT WANT" while another shows former Dean of Admissions Lee Stetson with the words "I wuz yur deeen: kthxbai".

The most primal versions of LOLcats appeared years ago on an Internet image board called 4chan, when Saturdays were designated as "Caturdays" - a special day to post photos of cats.

Much of the appeal for LOLcats and its variations comes from the strange language used to caption the photos.

"I never thought cats were particularly interesting until I saw them with captions with poor grammar," College junior Michael Murphy said. "If they don't have poor grammar, it's an ironic reference to the fact that [the] cat is speaking well."

For example, what is generally thought of as one of the original LOLcats is a photo of a pudgy grey cat with dopey eyes and a tilted, inquisitive head asking, simply, "I can has cheezburger?"

There is no explanation about why the cat wants a cheeseburger, and no one in the LOLcats community really seems to care.

"It's kind of like a dialogue between kittens, and that's pretty funny, I think," Engineering senior Keith McKnight said.

Earlier this year, College freshman Grace Ambrose created a small Facebook group called LOLPenn, based off a friend's similar group at Kenyon College called LOLKenyon.

The group quickly ballooned to over 100 members in less than a week.

"It was kind of viral," she said. "I've met a bunch of people and they're like, 'Oh my God, you're the girl who started the LOLPenn group.'"

McKnight added, "There's that certain degree of making fun of the Penn community that goes on; people are drawn to that sort of thing."

Through experimentation, however, group members have learned that not every Penn-related photo is begging to be captioned.

"There are some really horrible ones, but I don't want to be the humor dictator and delete people's LOLPenns from the group," Ambrose said.

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