Monday, July 14, 2008

What's A Meme

So in my last post I made reference to a term, meme. At first I did not know what the term meant, so like any good internet user, I googled it. Here is what I learned:

Meme
  • 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".

  • Interestingly the term meme has been around before the daily use of the internet. Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist first used the word in 1976 in his book The Selfish Gene. Dawkins defined the word as: "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation". Many people have criticized that Dawkins definition is vague.

    Since I too felt that Dawkins' definition was vague, I continued to search the internet. One concrete example of a meme is common sense. It is considered a meme since it is passed from generation to generation and evolves over time.

    My next question, after finally figuring out what a meme is, is how does it relate to the internet? Wikipedia (I'm guessing it might fall into the category of an internet meme) defines an internet meme as: "catchphrase or concept that spreads quickly from person to person via the internet".

    One of the first internet meme's, from the early 1990's was the Hampster Dance (new to me!). If you have not seen the Hampster Dance you defiantly need to check it out to get your daily chuckle.
    Wikipedia goes on to say that the most basic example of an internet meme is when people hyperlink to a website. I guess I have been memeing for awhile and didn't know it! Technically the professional meme that I did yesterday is not considered an internet meme by all people, while others think they are. I'm not an expert in meme's, so I will default that they are one.

    2 comments:

    rach :) said...

    Oh, that hampster...I still see Girly and Boy giggling away chanting "again again!" watching that thing in the early part of this decade. I'm glad you finally found it-- it's just your thing :)

    Weather Boy said...

    Here's the ORIGINAL: http://lee.org/reading/general/Hampsterdance/. For those of you asking "what in the world is that music?", I believe it is a Roger Miller song, sped up, a la Alvin & the Chipmunks. I particularly like the last 4 guys on the second row, paws stretched akimbo, like they are trying to invoke the power of some greater hamster being. Nice.