Your Guide to the Weird, Wild Web

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To the uninitiated, the Web may seem like some sort of a strange inside joke. Chuck Norris is more popular there than he ever was offline. Rick Astley is prone to popping up at random moments. And the cats. Always with the cats.

Never fear, Internet neophytes! A new website has your back. The folks at Rocketboom, themselves a onetime viral sensation, have come up with Know Your Meme, a handy guide to the endless stream of random Internet madness.

Even casual surfers will be familiar with some of the site's entries. Snakes on a Plane long ago crashed and burned, and the Dancing Baby probably has dancing kids of his own. But there's new stuff too. For instance, the existential musings of Philosoraptor, and the broader appeal of Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard.

Still confused? The site has a team of "Internet scientists" whose instructional videos break down some of the more popular memes, like Keyboard Cat and Peanut Butter Jelly Time. Never mind the fact that the videos often run longer than the original memes (Keyboard Cat does his thing in 54 seconds, while it takes the scientists more than four minutes to break it down).

The old maxim used to be that if you had to explain a joke, it wasn't funny. It's still true — even with the explanation, we don't get the appeal of something like, say, Robocop on a Unicorn. But for the rest of the Web's inexplicable absurdities, Know Your Meme at least gives you a fighting chance of getting the gag.