What's a meme and how fast does it travel?

Some clever scientists are trying to measure how fast meme's travel on the web. My contribution to the experiment is to add a link to their article to my article.

What's a meme, anyway? Think of ideas as little organisms that live in a person's mind (metaphorically.) And think of how good, meaningful ideas will tend to infect other minds, almost in a biological sense. And how some ideas are so powerful that they travel incredibly fast until everyone understands and thinks in those terms.

In this kind of scenario, the idea that travels is said to be a meme. (Self referentially, the idea of a meme as I described it here is itself a meme.) So I suppose Democracy is a meme that has infected and spread for a long time and very broadly. And the internet as a superhighway is a meme that had some uptake but has since died out.

More recently, the idea of a meme has morphed (mutated?) I think now it's used much more to refer to a clever phrase which sticks and is quoted all over the place.  For example, the pun "Plug and Pray" (for plug and play) and the word "wikiality" are both memes in the new sense.

So the study that we are assisting with this post is one that is measuring the speed of the spread of the second kind of meme across the internet using the propagation of links as the measure.
Posted on November 29, 2006 and filed under Life, Technology.