Memes, A Set Of Examples, Theories And Ideas

Cara, one of my 4th graders. Taken during the Christmas concert on the 22nd of January 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a 18-35mm lens. Part of the Christmas Concert Series.

In this article, we discuss and examine the idea of a meme with theories, examples and reasoning. We concentrate on the memes generated in the blogosphere and in IT, leaving aside cultural and linguistic memes. We also examine the impact that memes have on web site traffic and on the blogosphere.

As described before, a meme refers to a replicator of cultural information that one mind transmits (verbally or by demonstration) to another mind.

In the context of the blogosphere and IT, a meme is an idea, video, story that is transmitted from one user to the next, via a blog based medium, be it a vblog, a blog or a podcast. It empowers the blogosphere to be an almost instant agent of information dissemination, if the memotype of the meme is relevant to enough people.

For a very simple example, just examine your e-mail inbox. It is littered with e-mails from friends sharing jokes, videos, stories and links that they want to share with you. Those are the memotypes of a meme, the content of the meme if you will.

Some of the early examples of memes in the web are:

  1. All your base are belong to us from the translated video game Zero Wing
  2. Dancing baby craze
  3. Hampster Dance
  4. Mahir meme
  5. William Hung

Some of the more recent memes from the blogosphere:

  1. Robert Scoble leaving Microsoft
  2. Amanda Congdon leaving Rocketboom
  3. The rumor that Karl Rove would be indicted
  4. FilthyWhore, Brookers, Emmalina, LisaNova from YouTube

Neal Stephenson tackles linguistic based memes in his post-cyberpunk novel Snow Crash.

The way a meme is disseminated in the modern blogosphere is quite fascinating. Authors regularly submit their articles to memediggers as a way of publishing their ideas. If the article is interesting enough and if the readers took the time to support the article by giving their votes to it through digg, Reddit and Newsvine (in effect, digging, reddit or seeding the article) and by saving the article through a social bookmarking service like, interest is generated. This interest is translated into a viral wave of traffic, if there was a build up of a core mass of readers and it peaked to critical mass.

It has been documented that “getting dugg” by the memediggers generates an instant and culminating viral wave of traffic to a site. This traffic peaks and then dies down, as described by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail. The after effects of this phenomenon are the following:

  • Augmented daily page views: Even if you are in effect “riding the long tail” of a “digg”, daily traffic should be up since the site was exposed to a lot more potential readers/ viewers.
  • New readers: New regular readers to the blog.
  • Plethora of links to the blog: One of the main social sharing aspects of the blogosphere is to share interesting links and interesting sites. The social etiquette of the blogosphere entails linking back or commenting on those blogs that provided the link.
  • New RSS feed readers: New readers discovered the site and subscribe to the feed since they enjoyed the article.
  • Augmented interaction and discussions: One of the other aspects of the blogosphere is that users, readers and bloggers comment and discuss among themselves portions of an article that they enjoyed.
  • New haters: “With the love of new readership comes the hate of the haters.” As much as people love blogs, people hate some blogs and if you increase your readership you will also increase the amount of people that dislike your blog.
  • Article saved on social bookmarking services: If the article has generated enough interest, it should be saved by social bookmarking services a number of times. It is our theory that the saved articles have more “traffic value” than the initial wave, since it somewhat guarantees return traffic, which is paramount.


Memes are quite useful to the astute writer. He should start out by building up a database of articles, comments and material, try to increase the traffic to the blog by submitting some of his articles to memediggers. It is important that the articles in question aren’t too personal; they have to broach a general subject. That does not mean that the author can not give his opinion, but he has to make sure that the article will please a wide variety of bloggers. Also he has to try and interact, discuss with bloggers and blogs that he enjoys. After a few days or weeks, when enough posts have been published, he should analyze which posts are viewed the most and try to target those readers with similar posts.

Definitions and terminology from Wikiepdia’s entry on memetics.


  • Memotype – is the actual information-content of a meme.
  • Meme-complex – (sometimes abbreviated memeplex) is a collection or grouping of memes that have evolved into a mutually supportive or symbiotic relationship. Simply put, a meme-complex is a set of ideas that reinforce each other. Meme-complexes are roughly analogous to the symbiotic collection of individual genes that make up the genetic codes of biological organisms. An example of a memeplex would be a religion.
  • Memeoid – is a neologism for people who have been taken over by a meme to the extent that that their own survival becomes inconsequential. Examples include kamikazes, suicide bombers and cult members who commit mass suicide. The term was apparently coined by H. Keith Henson in “Memes, L5 and the Religion of the Space Colonies,” L5 News, 1985 pp 5-8



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One response to “Memes, A Set Of Examples, Theories And Ideas”

  1. The Diamond Age And Other Neal Stephenson Books « memoirs on a rainy day Avatar

    […] reread Snow Crash when my interest in memes and memetics spiked last year, I believe. Here is my first post about this. And this is the second […]

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