May 13, 2009

"First" Meme.

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?
Czech Beer.

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?
The Irishman.

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?
To Italy.

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?
Hugged Batcat.

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Eric Clapton.

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.


Reasons said...

Blogger is playing games this morning. Keeps going down, pehaps it has my bug!

How interesting! I have always wondered about Memes and was pronouncing it incorrectly in my mind too.

Eric Clapton was fab I bet.

MsTypo said...

That was really intersting! I've been pronouncing meme incorrectly for ages and didn't even know. I too was a Me Me'er. Thanks!! :)

Gal Friday said... like a scientist to get to the bottom of the "meme" mystery(which I also was pronouncing wrong all this time until I read your blog!)

The first movie I saw in the cinema(I was 5 years) was Snow White, as well!
And my sister had a cat once, called Gypsy...

This was a great blog, Ms. Z! :-)

Bradpetehoops said...

Very awesome and nice blog.

Keera Ann Fox said...

I was thinking of stealing this but discovered that I can't remember most of my firsts in the first place. One in particular bothers me: Just the other day I discovered I'd forgotten the name of my first (and only) prom date. He deserves better. I hope his name comes back to me!

Donna said...

I've always wondered about "meme" but never bothered checking it out. I've actually been pronouncing it correctly.

I enjoyed reading your answers to the tag.

Enjoy your day!

Rosezilla (Tracie Walker) said...

Oh, this is fun! I enjoyed reading your answers and getting to know you better. I might consider playing, but I did something similar so recently I might wait a bit. I didn't know how to say meme either. I've always been a voracious reader, but no good at pronunciation. My first detention was in second grade! It was for talking. I had to stay after school, but I didn't care because I knew my sister had to wait for me, plus the teacher felt sorry for my sister and let me go before the detention was up.

Julie Hibbard said...

Love this! You are OH so lucky to have not had to deal with PROM. And OH SO smart to not have a tattoo!!

sallymandy said...

Thank you for this post. When I was brand new to Blogging, I had a hard time understanding about memes. I found your research and information fascinating.

And yesterday's photo of Batcat. What a silly kitty. Love him.

Zuzana said...

=Reasons To Be...,
yes, I had the same problem with blogger yesterday leaving a comment on your blog actually.;) I think it might have been that "scheduled maintenance", but I can never figure out the times they use, so I never know when they might be on; I think they use Pacific time zone or something like that.;)
Glad you found this post useful- and
yes, Eric Clapton was great, the best concert ever.;))

great to hear that I am not the only one who has been pronouncing it wrong.;)))

how wonderful that you guys dd not find this post too boring.;) I have just often wondered where memes come from.;))
How amazing that Snow White was your first movie too.;)))
I always want to ask -but always forget- about your current profile picture; did you draw that? I have always liked it and it struck me first recently that it might be your art.;)

thank you so much and thanks for stopping by.;)

I had to laugh; I guess the poor guy did not make much of an impression on you then.;))
To bad otherwise, I steel a lot of tags from you, so I would be happy to repay the favour. And read all about your many "first".;) Maybe you can rework it and come up with new "first" ones.;))

great, I guess you are one of the few who had it right.;)) Always glad when you stop by.;))

what a lovely story fro your childhood and what a nice teacher. I guess you were a sweet and cute child and not into to much trouble, so the teacher thought she might let that one pass.;)))
To bad you did a similar meme recently, but pleas feel free to play at another occasion.;))

yes, I am so glad that I had no prom.;) Do you have a tattoo Julie? I bet it is is small cute one then.;)) Now I am VERY curios.;))

I am so glad you found this post enlighting and not too boring and factual.;))
Yes, Batcat is a darling and I love him to bits.;)
Thank you for always leaving such kind comments.;)xo

Gal Friday said...

Ms. Z.,
Yes, that is one of my "cat lady" paintings I am using for my profile currently(I keep changing them).

Noelle Chantal said...

Now, I know the origin of Meme. Thanks to you! hehe

Oh so you and your sister are commercial models before? Am I right? wow! and that is so cute of you hugging Batcat every morning! so sweet! :)

Hilary said...

I know how it's supposed to be pronounced but inside my head I still say "mem" as in MEMory. That's because that is how the word "meme" is pronounced in French which means "same." That makes sense to me as there's a sort of sameness about them when one does their version of something that someone else did with the same thing. ;) Evolving language is such fun! :)

Beverlydru said...

Thank you for the story behind memes. I'll play along next week with yours - I thought it most interesting.

Zuzana said...

glad you liked this a bit to factual post.;)))
No, we distributed commercials to peoples mailboxes. Hehe, I wish we would have been models instead though; more money would have been made. But we did not have your looks.;))
Yes, Batcat gets a hug first thing in the morning, particularly the times when he sleeps on a chair just next to my bed.;))
Thank you sweetie for all those lovely comments.;) xoxo

the way you pronounce it is actually one of the correct ways. Do you speak French fluently? Do all Canadians? Shows how much I know.;) I thought only the ones from French speaking part did.;))
Thank you for stopping by dear friend.;)) xo

great, looking forward to read all your "first"!:))
Thank you so much for this kind comment.;))

Zuzana said...

I really like that "ladycat", you have some serious talent.;)) I have noticed it before, but never knew you were the artist.;) xo

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Z, this was a fascinating run through your lovely life...

Your first car - How cool was that?!

You are a very intriguing and lovely person, Z, it's always a pleasure to know you, and to know more about you - And to hear of the history of the Meme (which I actually pronounce in my head as mehmeh!) Word verif: 'baltic' - Incredible, non?! Take care, Z! xox

Zuzana said...

yes driving my first car was an absolute blast!;)
Always love when you stop by dear friend, your comments mean the world to me.
How fun with the verification word!;)