"Memes" are the units of the Metaweb: Microcontent by Another Name

At Radar Networks we refer to pieces of microcontent as “Memes.” A Weblog posting is a Meme (pronounced “meem”), so is any RSS item. The classic definition of a meme is “a replicating unit of culture.” There is quite a bit of debate among memeticists about what constitutes replication and what constitutes a replicator. But in any event, here we are simply using the term to indicate that a piece of microcontent is replicable, is a unit of information (culture), and spreads across human populations. To be precise, a meme in the classical sense is really any idea, thus a piece of microcontent might contain many memes by that definition. In that view a microcontent object is actually a vector for memes it contains, as well as a meme itself in that it expresses or encapsulates the information which ties them all together. A Meme can be a compound object comprised of other Memes — for example in classical memetics “Catholicism” is a meme comprised of numerous other memes that comprise the belief system. In the same way any piece of microcontent is a Meme that may in turn be comprised of other Memes. The fact that sites like technorati, Daypop and others are starting to index and track the link structure and propagation of microcontent objects lends credence to this terminology: they are mapping and monitoring the spread of memes. While the technology they use for this is still quite primitive, it is a step in the right direction. For now, I think the use of the term “Meme” to refer to a piece of microcontent is helpful in that it implies the fact that microcontent spreads socially across human relationships.

2 thoughts on “"Memes" are the units of the Metaweb: Microcontent by Another Name”

Comments are closed.