1. The word “meme”, which is a kind of cultural virus, was coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene. Now he’s more famous a rampant atheist, so he’s went from spreading the idea of meme to spreading an actual meme.
2. Memes are 32 years old, while viral marketing is an impressionable 12 years old.
3-10. Memes transmit themselves through our culture via seven general patterns identified by Aaron Lynch. The seven patterns are:
1. If your meme convinces people to have more kids, it will spread faster because your kids tend to buy into your view of the world, at least until they realize that they know everything and that you are a just a hollow shell of a human, devoured by memes from the inside.
2. If you are a separatist in some cult in Utah, then your kids may not have anyone else to listen to, and your meme will stick for lack of a better meme, unless your kids invent their own better meme, which is very likely, especially if you invented your own meme.
3. Proselytism. That is, your meme needs to get outside the family, because if it’s just a family thing it ain’t gonna spread. And you want this thing to spread like the 1918 flu epidemic, don’t you?
4. Your meme’s hosts should launch a full-on war against any competing memes. All you have to do is make your meme the One True Meme, designed to weave itself into people’s sense of how the world works. This will put its hosts in automatic attack mode when any alternative memes try to get in the way or hijack your meme.
5. You need lock-in: tight rules, tithing, some sense of duty, or anything else your meme can use to keep its hosts from considering its alternatives.
6. How is your meme elevator pitch? Do people “get it” right away, or do they have to struggle to understand what the hell you’re talking about? Is your meme culturally unorthodox? Because it’s going to be a hard sell if you stray too far from the mainstream.
7. And finally but most importantly, why should people care about your meme? I mean, if they are going to allow their souls to be taken over by this thing you’ve designed, what’s in it for them? Preferably there are societal as well as personal rewards involved.
11. memepool.com is a site started in 1998 to track interesting web sites. It was actually kind of popular for a while, but I think delicious, reddit, and digg won out. Which puts into question the potency of the meme of memes, doesn’t it?
12. …until you realize you’re getting the hard sell on memes right now.
13. Memes can be cultural ideas, symbols, or practices.
14. They are spread via speech, gestures, rituals, or other “imitable phenomena” like alien hand signals, if you’re an alien and if aliens even have hands.
15. I invented a meme recently, it’s called the Flag of Equal Marriage.
16. The word actually is intended to be analogous to genes. Memes and genes, because memes self-replicate like selfish genes. Memes can block other memes as genes can block other genes, and so on.
17. Memetics is the field devoted to the study of memes. Which means you can be a memeticist, and I think a lot of us are, but we call ourselves something else like “director of viral marketing” or maybe “trend monkey”.
18. In fact, there was a peer refereed Journal of Memetics, but it died in 2005! I think if it were called Journal of Trend Monkeying, it might have held on.
19. Not only are there memeticists, there are radical memeticists! These folks want to put memes at the center of a materialistic theory of mind and of personal identity. If that doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will.
20. Memes don’t really stand alone, because if they did they’d be irrelevant. They’re part of a larger ecosystem of memes. They are woven into this ecosystem, composed of networks of cultural associations, mental structures, etc.
21. These clusters of memes are called memeplexes, as in meme complexes. If you’re talking about the fashion industry, you might even say “meme industrial complex,” but good luck turing that into a cute portmanteau.
22. Memes can evolve, of course. They have to keep up with the Jones’ memes!
23. Language just might be the first and most important memetic infection in your life.
24. An internet meme is like an inside joke. Internet memes and internet fame are celebrated at the annual ROFLCon conference. (Will it last, or will it go the way of the memepool?)
25. Some people pronounce “meme” like “memory,” but I think it’s pronounced like “dream”.