As the Internet has grown from a niche and a novelty to a ubiquitous platform for communication, media and business, it's inevitable it would begin to influence pop culture in ways no one could have envisioned during those heady AOL days.

There's no better example of this than the rise of the Internet meme. Fueled by an explosion of social media applications, any person with Internet access can turn an absurd moment into a viral craze. Nyan Cat, Prancing Michael Cera, LOLCats—snarky observations are now democratized.

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