The other day I became very curious about the origins of tags and memes. I have been tagged a few times and even "memed", if one can say so. I have even copied and "officially" stolen memes. But until now I never really understood the origins of the word nor the game itself. Being a scientist, I am very curious by nature and so of course I set on a hunt for knowledge.
So where do memes (or tags) come from?
First of all, I realized that I have been mispronouncing the word "meme" the whole time in my head. As I have never heard it being said out loud, I always just read it as it was written. Something to the extend of repeating "me", as in reference to my person, two times. That is however an error. Meme is pronounced more like "meem", riming with "dream". Another version is a short "mem", as a in "memory".
According to the Wikipedia, a definition of meme is (direct quote):
"...a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices that gets transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for "something imitated".
The word meme originated in a book by Richard Dawkins from 1976, called The Selfish Gene. Here he initially defined meme as a noun which "conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation". In the book he presents a very interesting theory on the spread of information and ideas through "memes". Comparing them to natural "genes", he hypotheses, that just like these evolve by natural selection, even "memes" will undergo changes while they are passed on through the processes of variation, mutation, competition and inheritance. In simple words; any information that is passed on might have been chosen, changed and survived for its content.
Interestingly for me, this all gave rise to the science of "Memetics", which I have stumbled upon in my work as well.
But back to our Internet Memes. These are in theory; a quiz, a list, a joke, a clip, an animation or a story that is spread through the cyberspace via email, blog, internet forums or IM. These memes can stay the same or evolve and the rate in which they spread is depending on a natural selection due to their popularity.
So there you have it, a short history on the origins and function of meme's.
While doing my research, I stumbled upon a tag here. I liked it so much I decided to copy it and post it in order to contribute to the spreading of the meme information. Anyone who is up for a game, please feel free to play along.;)
1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
Prom doesn't exist in Scandinavian school system. Fortunately.
2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love?
No. It is a statue of a prince and I have never said a word to him.
3. What was your 1st alcoholic drink?
4. What was your FIRST job?
Delivering commercials in the weekends with my sister.
5. What was your FIRST car?
Red ‘77 T-bird.
6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
My telephone company.
7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
It was a sweet old lady, but I do not remember her name.
9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk?
A girl I went to school with in Slovakia - and yes, I am still in touch with her.
11. Where was your FIRST sleep over?
I never had one. As a child that is.
12. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
Someone at the lab.
13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time?
Hmm, I remember the wedding, but not whose it was. I think the couple were friends of my parents, I might have been around seven years old.
14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
16. FIRST tattoo?
I do not have one.
17. First piercing?
First and last; my earlobes when I was about a month old. That is customary in my culture; all the little girls wear tiny, golden earrings since they are toddlers.
18. First foreign country you’ve been to?
19. FIRST movie you remember seeing?
Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). I must have been around 4 or 5 and I remember falling on the way from the cinema and ruining my beautiful coat.
20. When was your FIRST detention?
21. What was the first state you lived in?
22. Who was your FIRST roommate?
A cat called Gypsy.