Thursday, May 15, 2008

I learned something today


Recently I learned something...I was talking about the cat meme below (I was saying it "meee meee") and J stopped, puzzled and asked me if it was like a "meme"...and then kindly told me where the term meme originates...along to pronounce it properly...and it's actual meaning. Apparently meme has a long and interesting origin...not just a lolspeak shortened version of talking about your self...which thought it was. Soooo I thought I'd pass my newfound knowledge on to the hopes that I'm not the only dolt out there who was unaware of meme being quite more profound and culturally developed as a concept. It's good to brighten up the place a bit once in a while.

According to Wikipedia:
"A meme (pronounced /miːm/) consists of any unit of cultural information, such as a practice or idea, that gets transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another. Examples include thoughts, ideas, theories, practices, habits, songs, dances and moods and terms such as race, culture, and ethnicity. Memes propagate themselves and can move through a "culture" in a manner similar to the behavior of a virus. As a unit of cultural evolution, a meme in some ways resembles a gene. Richard Dawkins, in his book, The Selfish Gene, recounts how and why he coined the term meme to describe how one might extend Darwinian principles to explain the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, clothing-fashions, and the technology of building arches.

The word meme first came into popular use with the publication of Dawkins's book The Selfish Gene in 1976. Dawkins based the word on a shortening of the Greek "mimeme" (something imitated), making it sound similar to "gene". Dawkins used the term to refer to any cultural entity that an observer might consider a replicator. He hypothesised that people could view many cultural entities as replicators, generally replicating through exposure to humans, who have evolved as efficient (though not perfect) copiers of information and behaviour. Memes do not always get copied perfectly, and might indeed become refined, combined or otherwise modified with other ideas, resulting in new memes. These memes may themselves prove more (or less) efficient replicators than their predecessors, thus providing a framework for a hypothesis of cultural evolution, analogous to the theory of biological evolution based on genes.

Dawkins defined the meme as "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation", but memeticists in general promote varying definitions of the concept of the meme. The lack of a consistent, rigorous and precise understanding of what typically makes up one unit of cultural transmission remains a problem in debates about memetics."

So there you go.

Makes me wonder what else I "know" about that I don't actually know...or know how to pronounce. J is kind to not mock me too much when he points out something I don't know. He's good that way. Together we are on a constant quest to stop me from having my foot permanently stuck in my cheekpouch :)

Constant Vigilance!


Magnus said...

I still think Dawkins is a pompous jerk.

grapecat said...

this is a great advantage of living in a different country - when I mis-pronounce (often), I can brazen it out and declare that that's the way we say it in Canada.
So there.
I still feel stupid though.
and worse - half the time I can't remember if it's true or not!

Magnus - I agree re Dawkins - I think he's more or less right but ugh - the writing style...

Rimshot said...

"I still think Dawkins is a pompous jerk."

* * *

I like your pronunciation and definition better! I'm going to start using your version. I never considered it a "Me, me!" type of thing, but since all the memes I see on the 'net are of that variety, I think it applies wonderfully.

Perhaps we could start a "Me, me" meme?

Oh, now my head hurts.

the Bag Lady said...

Geosomin, don't feel bad. The Bag Lady wasn't sure how to pronounce it, either.
Like your pronunciation, though.

Pacian said...

*points and laughs at Geosomin*


Crabby McSlacker said...

A Mee Mee! It definitely sounds more fun that way.

Since I read much more than I converse, I'm perpetually afraid that I'll mispronounce things. My spoken vocabulary is therefore much, much smaller than my written vocabulary.


I had to ask the lady working at Hobby Lobby yesterday how to pronounce 'fondant.' I'm not afraid to show my ignorance!!!

the Bag Lady said...

Geosomin - if you are around this weekend, you might want to check out the Bag Lady's blog.....