Monday, 2 January 2017

Memes on The Edge

The term 'meme' is given on the edge home page - - as an example of The Edge 20th Anniversary Annual Question, which is:


It says:

Richard Dawkins' “meme” became a meme, known far beyond the scientific conversation in which it was coined. It’s one of a handful of scientific ideas that have entered the general culture, helping to clarify and inspire.

Apparently they are not saying that 'meme' should be more widely known, but rather asking what other scientific concepts could and should go mainstream - in the way the meme has previously done.

The responses to the annual-question also feature memes in a big way. I counted the occurrences of the term "meme" on the page. It is used 43 times. In some cases it is not just used as a shorthand for "viral internet phenomenon", but for actual discussion of memes in science. It isn't just one contributor using the term 43 times: 12 different people mention memes, as follows:

This is great. When I got into promoting memetics, the meme was in a moribund state. Since then we've seen a massive explosion of memes on the internet - the 2011 internet meme explosion. I've long believed that the popularity of the term 'meme' is likely to have the effect of forcing the term down scientists' throats. The technical objections to the use of he term by scientists are all bogus ones - based on their own confusions and misunderstandings. This is a case where the wisdom of the crowd has worked out for the best.

The corresponding stats from previous years show that 2017 is a bumper year for "meme" mentions:

One concern about this outpouring of meme enthusiasm is that maybe the meme references in 2017 were't spontaneous. Maybe John Brockman gave "memes" to the respondents as an example.

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