One idea is that culture develops in a way similar to living things. An example would be how viruses spread to different organisms. Memes change as they go, creating controversy, and sculpting society. Just as a virus would, memes evolve from their state, being photoshopped, and exaggerated.
Biologist and evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins invented the word meme in 1976. He said that tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing fashions, ways of making pots, and the technology of building arches were all examples of memes.
Examples of memes[change | change source]
- Technology: cars, paper-clips, etc. The progress of technology is a bit like genetics, because it has spread by 'mutations' or changes to progress. For example, many paper-clip designs have been made. Some last longer than others, and some look better than others. In the end the ones that are copied are a memetic success.
- Jokes spread and change the more they are told.
- Nursery rhymes: passed on from parent to child over many generations (thus keeping old words such as "tuffet" and "chamber" popular when they are not used today).
- Epic poems: once important memes for preserving oral history; writing has largely superseded their oral transmission.
- Conspiracy theories
- Religions: complex memes, including folk religious beliefs, such as The Prayer of Jabez.
- Popular concepts: these include Freedom, Justice, Ownership, Open Source, Egoism, or Altruism
- Group-based biases: everything from anti-semitism and racism to cargo cults.
- Longstanding political memes such As "mob rule", national identity, Yes Minister and "republic, not a democracy".
- Programming paradigms: from structured programming and object-oriented programming to extreme programming.
- Internet phenomena: Internet slang. "Internet memes" propagate quickly among users using email, websites, blogs, discussion boards and other Internet communications as a medium.
- Moore's Law: this meme is particularly interesting. The original law was "semiconductor complexity doubles every 18 months". It described growth in terms of the number of transistors on a chip.
- Metameme: The concept of memes itself is a meme.
- Anecdotes: Short jokes or other stories.
- Phrases; and common expressions.
- Viral marketing: A type of marketing based on memes and using "word of mouth" to advertise (see the recent example of Snakes on a Plane).
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
Literature[change | change source]
- Aunger, Robert: The Electric Meme: A New Theory of How We Think. Free Press, 2002, hardcover ISBN 0-7432-0150-7
- Aunger, Robert: Darwinizing culture: the status of memetics as a science. Oxford University Press, 2000, New-York ISBN 0-19-263244-2
- Blackmore, Susan: The Meme Machine. Oxford University Press, 1999, hardcover ISBN 0-19-850365-2, trade paperback ISBN 0-9658817-8-4, May 2000, ISBN 0-19-286212-X
- Fog, Agner: Cultural Selection. Dordrecht: Kluwer 1999. ISBN 0-7923-5579-2.
- Henson, H. Keith: "Sex, Drugs, and Cults. An evolutionary psychology perspective on why and how cult memes get a drug-like hold on people, and what might be done to mitigate the effects", The Human Nature Review 2002 Volume 2: 343-355 
- Henson, H. Keith: "Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War."
- Lanier, Jaron: "The Ideology of Cybernetic Totalist Intellectuals", an essay which criticises "meme totalists" who assert memes over bodies.
- "Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission" Journal of Memetics
- Principia Cybernetica holds a lexicon of memetics concepts, comprising a list of different types of memes.
- A list of memetics publications on the web
Other websites[change | change source]
- 4chan.org Where memes are distributed, to users of the internet.
- The Meme Machine, Interview of Susan Blackmore by Denis Failly
- Journal of Memetics
- The text of Dawkins' Selfish Gene, chapter 11, "Memes: the new replicators", in which Dawkins coined the word "meme"
- The Mocking Memes: A Basis for Automated Intelligence, a 2006 book on a memetic theory of mind.
- Cultural Software: A Theory of Ideology by Jack Balkin which uses memes to explain the growth and spread of ideology.
- Why did the chicken cross the road? The story of a meme
- A short piece by Mike Godwin on memes in Wired Magazine.
- The Invasion of the Memes ─ memes as a useful metaphor, nothing more.
- What is a Meme? by Brent Silby ─ an introductory article pitched at a general audience.
- A discussion of memes by Deepak Chopra
- "Life cycles of successful genes", 2003, Robert Hoffmann
- Memes.org ─ Just relaunched as a forum for discussion about memes and memetics.
- Dawkins's speech on the 30th anniversary of the publication of The Selfish Gene, Dawkins 2006
- PDF,Whitty 2005
- The Evolution of Technology by Brent Silby ─ memetics used to explain human creativity.
- "Evolution and Memes: The human brain as a selective imitation device": article by Susan Blackmore.
- Dan Dennett discusses Memes: Video from Ted Talks - February 2002.