Blog Memes

A common pattern in blog communication is referred to as a Meme. Here is one example of the commonly used definition of the term as applied to blogs. One common factor that doesn’t seem to get directly mentioned much when people define the term (but which always seems to be mentioned in passing) is the idea of tagging people. So the definition of a meme as applied to blogs seems to be a silly question that you answer in a blog post and then request that some other bloggers (usually 5) answer as well.

At the end of this post I have included the dictionary definition of the term (here is the Wikipedia definition).

I believe that it is incorrect to call a question such as “which superhero do you most identify with” a meme. Instead I think that there is a Memeplex associated with such posts. One meme is that when someone “tags” you (requests that you answer a question) it should be considered an honour (someone in the blog-sphere likes you enough to ask you random questions in a public forum). Another meme is that such discussion is a good thing (although an increasing number of people in the more serious part of the blog-sphere oppose this). A final one that is apparent to me (I’m sure that there are others) is that so-called memes and lazyweb posts are the same thing (I believe this to be wrong).

I believe that lazyweb posts if written about interesting topics can contribute significantly to the community knowledge base. I also believe that chain lazyweb posts (here is a link to the only such post I’ve made so far) can also contribute if created in a sensible manner. Chain posts that don’t require any thought or input from the person re-posting them (EG “please post this message to all your friends so that they can know of the terrible war/famine/earthquake/whatever in some foreign part of the world”) are of course quite useless (you can make a post of links once a month if you want to spread the news about such things).

Now I agree that some amount of conversation among bloggers in a community that is personal and not directly related to the main topics of discussion is good for building the community.

From Jargon File (4.4.4, 14 Aug 2003) [jargon]:

/meem/, n.

[coined by analogy with `gene’, by Richard Dawkins] An idea considered as a {replicator}, esp. with the connotation that memes parasitize people into propagating them much as viruses do. Used esp. in the phrase meme complex denoting a group of mutually supporting memes that form an organized belief system, such as a religion. This lexicon is an (epidemiological) vector of the `hacker subculture’ meme complex; each entry might be considered a meme. However, meme is often misused to mean meme complex. Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans (and presumably other tool- and language-using sophonts) cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has superseded biological evolution by selection of hereditary traits. Hackers find this idea congenial for tolerably obvious reasons.

PS This evening I had planned to go to a LUV meeting and see my friend Andy Fitzsimon (blog) give a talk about Inkscape (for which he is famous). I also had a day off work, so it was going to be a day of non-stop fun. But instead I got some sort of cold/flu, stayed in bed for much of the day, missed the meeting, and was late in my blog post. This sucks.

3 comments to Blog Memes

  • Sadly the projector died on us just before Andy started, we presumed it was his laptop until Andrew Chalmers tried his previously working laptop and that wouldn’t play ball either. :-(

    Still, Andy gave a cracking talk even without graphics!

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  • etbe

    Andy always gives a great talk. But not having a beamer is a significant set-back for a talk about graphics.

    Let’s just hope that they don’t try to blame LUV for breaking it…