Call#: Van Pelt Library HM1041 .D37 2000
This article discusses the ethics of link baiting, defined here as "great content with an angle that prompts links and social media action." The term itself has a negative connotation due to its connection with bait as a way to trick people, although it has been around too long to change. Included are various quotes from media marketing firms for or against the term and offering alternative terms. Some of these terms include 'viral copyrighting,' 'magnetic content creation,' 'branding wankers,' and 'social media marketing.' The argument here is over what sounds most benign. Although the idea is to use such content for advertising purposes, the dispute is whether the nature of that advertising is to trick people or just expose them to something new. In any case, the article says that the future of advertising on the internet is link baiting, whether or not it goes by that name.
This article offers a generally negative view on the term 'link baiting' while seemingly supporting its underlying purpose. The author Brian Clark is an internet marketer, so it makes sense for him to support it, otherwise he would be in the wrong business. What the article mentions but doesn't explore in great enough detail is that such advertising is the future. Internet memes will be created deliberately through viral marketing and sent out to compete with less self-conscious creations. This has far-reaching implications that are not the subject of the article.
This article talks about 'bemes'--memes spread through blogs--as being the new way that information is spread and propogated. The author considers the definition of meme to be a piece of cultural information that spreads by word of mouth and eventually becomes common knowledge. By taking advantage of the network effect, particularly the link-heavy nature of blogs, a meme can become widespread in very short period of time. Bemes are essentially memes, but faster. Bemes are engineered to use new media to the greatest extent and be as catchy as possible. Also mentioned are 'bemerz', the people who create bemes. Due to the popularity of these bemes, the bemerz themselves become cultural icons. The end result is that people can create and spread ideas deliberately and quickly.
The idea of beme doesn't really seem any different than an internet meme, although the spread of the term after being mentioned on ABC News may very well validate the argument. The point of the article is very clear, although with respect to examples it seems sparse. The comments on the blog post serve to fill in the gaps as well as challenge the idea. As one reader says, "Nice try, though, trying to make up your own beme by creating the word itself."
This chapter gives a history of the term 'meme' as it was coined by Richard Dawkins and Douglas Hofstadter's later book on the topic. The next part of the chapter talks about viral memes, which the author considers to be any meme designed to propogate itself. These memes "invoke an emotion and insist on being spread", such as chain emails. Those appealing to topics that provoke reaction, such as pity, fear, or sex, are considered to be the best examples of this. As for schemes, the author defines them as a set of related memes shared among different people. Schemes spread in a way similar to memes, but also through membership. In other words, if certain members of a scheme are considered to be good authorities or role models, other people, regardless of whether they accept the memes on their own, will become a part of the scheme.
The headings in this chapter look good, although the information (especially the example under viral memes) seems somehow off. As a brief history of the term 'meme' and an exploration of the schemes, this chapter is thought-provoking, but I'm hesitant to necessarily take the ideas he proposes as fact.
This article discusses how memes catch on (or don't) and their impact on culture. The first approach is looking at history as either a narrative or a science. The narrative must be plausible, but not predictable, to be interesting. So too is culture. The things that catch on don't follow a formula per se, but in retrospect they aren't completely out of the blue. The second approach is a comparison with evolution. In this view, it is the glitches that move things forward, not just the formula. The good will continue, the bad will be cast off. However, the line between good and bad is blurry at best, and the very nature of parasitic things like memes is to trick the hosts. The article gives the example of a person with a sweet tooth. If the candy tastes good enough to make the person forget about its negative impacts, it will persist, furthering both the good and the bad qualities of candy. Memes are selected unconsciously and consciously. Even in the case of meme-engineering, in which someone tries to create an idea that will catch on by mimicking what is popular, nothing can be predicted for certain. It doesn't necessarily matter how good an idea is (although it helps), but rather the unpredictable pull of many natural and cultural forces that decides the fate of a meme. Cultural evolution is thus not a direction, but a trend, and not necessarily a very definite trend.
The article touches on a lot of different possibilities, but its tone makes it easy enough to read and digest. The nature of taking the side of unpredictability is that no firm conclusions will be drawn, but the article still discusses numerous possibilities. The question Dennett repeats is "cui bono?" or "who benefits?" He doesn't give an answer, or perhaps the answer is that even if one could measure the benefits, they wouldn't necessarily inform anything beyond that.
Heylighen begins his examination of memes by comparing them with genetics. Genetics is generally an apt metaphor for memetics. Memes are more or less "copied" from one person to another, sometimes varying from the original. Different memes are more or less consistent, infective, or different from majority or prior notions. However, there are key differences. Memes can be transmitted between any two people, rather than parent-to-child. Memes also replicate much more quickly, and thus can spread throughout a network almost instantly.
The next part of the article deals with meme replication on the internet. The key parts of such information transmission are the internet's high copy-fidelity (digitization allows for lossless transfer), high fecundity (computers can produce a large volume of copies quickly), and greater longevity (digital information can be stored indefinitely). Consequently, the internet allows greater and more efficient replication of memes. Real-world boundaries are also pushed aside, allowing diffusion to occur from multiple sources and geographical locations outward rather than from a single source outward and potentially limited by physical and linguistic boundaries. Due to the nature of the internet, permanently copying information is not always necessary, but rather linking to information (with the assumption that it will always exist at that location) is more efficient. This suggests that the number of incoming links to something on the web is important for measuring its spread.
The article also discusses how memes can compete with each other or work together, similar to genes. When memes compete, the idea is that the more popular one will win out. As it pertains to the web, the more linked site will draw more new viewers who will then also link it, making it even more popular. For a global network, this means that there would likely be a shared ideology eventually.
This article effectively links the nature of memes and genes. It has detailed information on the properties of memes and how they apply to what gets spread across the internet. What this article is lacking is in examples that support the emergence of a global brain. The theory behind it is well-explained, but the external factors that make things more popular or less popular among certain subsets of society are not mentioned.