Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Meme...

Pinterest and other social networking sites have increased the usage and popularity of this word, however it has been around for over forty years.

Have you ever received a forward, or watched a trending video on Youtube?  If so, you have experienced the marvelous and wonderful internet "meme.".

Today the word meme can be used to describe something that is shared by on the internet - - an "internet meme."  A simple search of "meme" on Pinterest will give a bunch of examples.

A meme is defined in the Webster's dictionary as, "an idea, behavior, style or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture."

The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that the word "meme" has its origins in biology as "a cultural element or behavioural trait whose transmission and consequent persistence in a population, although occurring by non-genetic means (esp. imitation), is considered as analogous to the inheritance of a gene."  R. Dawkins, coined the phrase in his book entitled, the "Selfish Gene."

In the Selfish Gene your favorite evolutionary biologist said, "The new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the new replicator, a noun which conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation. ‘Mimeme’ comes from a suitable Greek root, but I want a monosyllable that sounds a bit like ‘gene’. I hope my classicist friends will forgive me if I abbreviate mimeme to meme.‥ It should be pronounced to rhyme with ‘cream’. Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches."

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