Saturday, April 16, 2011

M is for Meme

A meme (rhymes with dream) is a unit of cultural information. The word, coined by Richard Dawkins (The selfish gene, 1976) from an analogy of biology and genetics; genes being transmitters of biological information, memes are transmitters of ideas or cultural information.  I like the idea that information could be somewhat analogous with genes, that culture could be born, live, die, or be a success and pass information on so it remains in the human population. I love the idea of culture, and ideas, can replicate, mutate, die off, be subject to something akin to natural selection and eventually and evolve into something new.

The study of memes, memetics, gained in popularity through the 1990's, but there is still debate as to whether it is a science and whether memes can be measured in discrete units. There's also criticism of memetics not taking into account advances in other areas, such as sociologysemiotics cultural anthropology

Internet memes 

An Internet meme is a meme spread by the Internet.  They can take the form of videos, graphics, pictures and websites. They are often parodies, remixing and creating mash-ups with music, original text, or combing other memes. One of the most famous memes is spam, or junk emails. The term "spam" having originated from a Monty Python sketch. Monty python fans "spamed" message boards with the word "spam", which was soon forbidden by the message board administrators. Now today, unwanted repetitive messages are known as spam.

.One of the most notorious memes making rounds at the moment is Rebecca Black's Friday, which has been deemed by some the worst song in the world. It has now "gone viral" and spread around the world wide web with more then 100 million views and counting. The parodies and remixes are becoming as famous as the original.

For more on memes see Know your memes, or just watch youtube or surf the internet.

Have a great weekend everybody.

The internet is a wacky, wonderful place. Here are some of my genuinely favourite internet memes. 

Miss Teen South Carolina. I'm sure you're a lovely girl, but please don't enter any more recorded beauty contests, for your sake.

Dramatic chipmunk, as well as being cute and creepy at the same time, is actually a prairie dog.

And to play off this post, keyboard cat!



  1. I refuse to watch Rebecca Black's videos because I'm afraid I might like them! But I have seen most of the other viral videos. To catch up on them, I usually watch Tosh.0. He features most of them along with hilarious commentary.