stop and think. What exactly is a meme, anyway, and how did the
word originate? In the context of blogs, (the word blog is derived
from web logs, by the way) it's generally a list of questions that are
answered and then passed on to others and so on, often in the form
of a tag game. I pronounce meme so it rhymes with dream and
others pronounce it mem, like in memory.
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
- 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".
meme is from the 1976
book by Richard Dawkins,
The Selfish Gene. Though
Dawkins defined the meme
as "a unit of cultural
transmission, or a unit of
imitation," memeticists vary
in their definitions of meme.
The lack of a consistent, rigorous definition of what
precisely a meme is remains one of the principal
criticisms leveled at memetics, the study of memes.
And that's the best I can do, since I'm not a memeticist!
So, there you have it!
(photo from Flickr)