Have you heard about…?
In keeping with this week’s AlphabeThursday study of the letter “M,” I am investigating the relatively new term “meme.” From an etymological perspective, “meme” is a shortened version of the Greek word mimeme, meaning “to imitate.” Modern definitions include the following:
- an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads through a culture either vertically by cultural inheritance or horizontally by cultural acquisition
- a pervasive thought or thought pattern that replicates itself via cultural means
- in blogspeak, an idea that is spread from blog to blog
Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist, is credited with coining the term “meme” in 1976 to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena such as melodies, catch-phrases, and fashion. He was basically comparing self-replication of an idea to its biological counterpart, the gene (it is noteworthy that he deliberately shortened the original Greek word so the new word would have a look and sound similar to “gene”).
Are you still with me? I’ll admit the early part of this entry is significantly more technical than my usual post and, further, anything to do with the scientific implications of the term are well beyond my interest or ability to explain. I do hope the rest of this post will be somewhat more entertaining…
As a time- and idea-challenged blogger, I appreciate the creative ways other bloggers come up with to simultaneously promote their own blogs and encourage others to follow their lead. I’ve been a happy follower of memes for storytelling, photo/Photoshop techniques, and (of course) Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday series. Each of these offers a different way for me to exercise a writing muscle that, until a two years or so ago, I didn’t even realize I had.
All that said, it wasn’t until earlier this week that I had a first-hand experience of how prolific memes can be. I first heard of book spine poetry1 via Kim Klassen’s Beyond Layers workshop when another “beyonder” suggested it as topic participants in that e-course might like. Then, just a few days ago, I came across an unrelated post on the same topic via WordPress’s “Freshly Pressed” feature. From there, I was just a Google search away from many discussions and examples of the technique. There were so many, in fact, that I’m convinced book spine poetry is at least one example of Dawkins’ definition of meme.
So in closing, as you travel the highways and byways of this blogosphere we share, I wish you inspiration and a community of like-minded bloggers who share your particular interests. And, if you host a family-friendly, g-rated meme on your site, feel free to post the link here. You never know who might come to visit!
1Book spine poetry is basically arranging the spines of several books together so their combined titles form a poem of sorts.