Memes & Memetics


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Slidecast (slides + audio) on the topic of memes and memetics. An excerpt from an online lecture in the sustainable MBA program at BGIedu in the class "Using the Social Web for Social Change".

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  • Thanks for explaining this -- a universal meme I recall is the harvest celebration which even though we don't harvest the crop we celebrate (e.g. I know are Thanksgiving in the US & Canada; Baisakhi , Makar Sankrathi, Gudhi Padhwa, Pongal, Akhatrij in different parts of India). The memes I prefer we had less were those that trick people into buying something they don't need or have to say/act to be cool!
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Memes & Memetics

  1. 1. Memes &Memetics
  2. 2. Definition of Meme“A unit of cultural inheritance”A meme consists of any idea orbehavior that can pass from oneperson to another by learning orimitationTypically propagated by symboliccommunication or language, but notlimited to thatPropagation through contagion,analogous to a virus
  3. 3. Jokes & BeliefsGossip Examples of Memes Gestures Practices
  4. 4. Fashion Beauty Examples of Memes Give me Liberty or Music Phrases Give me Death!
  5. 5. Internet Memes
  6. 6. Richard DawkinsThe concept of the meme was firstused by evolutionary biologistRichard DawkinsBecame popular with the publicationof his book “The Selfish Gene” in1976
  7. 7. MemeplexesGroups of memes can worksymbiotically together giving rise tomemeplexesThey exist together because theybenefit each other
  8. 8. Ideologies Technologies Memeplexes Religions Philosophies
  9. 9. Natural Selection Memes have other analogies to Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection replication & inheritance variation & mutation competition & selection genes compete in the “gene pool” through natural selection giving rise to evolution memes survive in the “belief pool” through a similar selection process
  10. 10. Memetics“The study of of the transmission ofideas”Applying tools from genetics tounderstanding ideas is usefulThere is not a scientific consensus onmemes some say “a nice metaphor” some say “denies free will” same say “anti-religious”But it does explain some things thatdon’t fit in evolutionary psychology
  11. 11. Selfish MemesEvolution (genetic or memetic) is notabout the individual, but the successof replicationThus like genes, they do not have tobe beneficial to their hostsThe only thing a meme “cares” aboutis propagation
  12. 12. Infectious Memes “When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme’s propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.” — N.K. Humphrey, The Selfish Gene
  13. 13. Meme PropogationSome memes propagate by beingeffective or useful language agriculture scientific methodHowever, memes also propagatethrough features and weakness of thehuman psyche emotional appeal need for hope bandwagon
  14. 14. Memes as Viruses If memes can be compared to viruses, they also are analogous to their viruses properties of infection and for immunity infection proselytization, fear, indoctrination immunity doctrine, contempt for knowledge, dogmatism, emotional hijacking
  15. 15. Thoughts ContagionSome thought about transmission (See Wikipedia on Meme) Quality of parenthood Efficacy of parenthood Proselytic Preservational Adversative Cognitive Motivational
  16. 16. Memes as a Meme The idea of memes itself is a meme. You are now infected