Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What is a meme?

A meme is:
An idea that, like a gene, can replicate and evolve.
A unit of cultural information that represents a basic idea that can be transferred from one individual to another, and subjected to mutation, crossover and adaptation.
A cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one generation to another by nongenetic means (as by imitation); "memes are the cultural counterpart of genes.

A contagious idea that replicates like a virus, passed on from mind to mind. Memes function the same way genes and viruses do, propagating through communication networks and face-to-face contact between people. The root of the word "memetics," a field of study which postulates that the meme is the basic unit of cultural evolution. Examples of memes include melodies, icons, fashion statements and phrases.

Well that's pretty clear then. I woke up in the middle of the night as you do and thought what the hell is a meme? It wouldn't leave me alone a bit like that tune you can't get out of your head. Think Birdie song, or Macarena. In my middle aged brain fug I originally came up with the explanation that it was a Me Me, (personal) it told others something about me. But being a reasonably intelligent if slight odd woman I realised that the word had to come from somewhere before the land of Blog took over. And it did.
In a sense a meme is still about sharing a part of yourself with others but it's more about the idea, that is being passed around, how we communicate in this virtual world, I guess that's why so many of them are tags, they are contagious. Blogging itself has actually become a meme the same way as learning to light a fire or drive a car. I wonder what the next meme will be, perhaps how to survive without fuel or maybe to operate rockets.
I feel I can sleep easier now that my brain has managed to sort out that little issue. Hope you got some sense from this post. Blame it on sleep deprivation.


Thimbleanna said...

Ha! The mystery unfurled. Thanks for the update -- I guess I should be more inquisitive as I was content with the me me solution. Love your new cupcake plates and can't wait to see what you make from your new knitting magazine!

silos said...

Very nice.
I decided to dabble in the mystery as well.

periwinkle said...

Me Me, makes perfect sense now.. I understood every word. Thank you for your comment, so far so good.
Lisa x

Linda said...

Me Me... really had no idea exactly what it meant. Great information.

Love you cupcake dishes...too cute to pass up. Linda

LOUISE said...

Thanks so much Alison for explaining what a meme is. I remember having a conversation with a friend a couple of months back about what an earth the definition could be? You couldn't have explained it better. x

Liz said...

Thanks for explaining this... i really didnt understand what that meant either. :)

Jane said...

?! hope you slept well after your meme sorting :)Jane x

Willow said...

I'm actually happy to know the etymology of the word meme. I had wondered about it, hadn't waked up in the night puzzled, but my linguistic curiosity had been piqued.

It's fun to use new words and phrases and know I'm part of the generation to have started saying, "Just google it" or "I blogged about it."

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

Hi Alson, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, I always appreciate someone taking the time to do that even if I don't always have time to reply. I only learnt about memes when I started blogging and also thought it stood for me, me, as in talking all about yourself for others to read! When I googled it I found the explanation complicated to say the least but I think I understand what a meme is now....thanks for the explanation!

Rosezilla said...

Thank you for explaining another little piece of the blogging puzzle. As a newbie still wet behind the ears, I didn't know what it was either, but didn't like to ask.