2014-09-15: A Note About ‘memes’

This is not a book report, but explains a bit about a theme that runs through many of the book reports, those tagged with ‘memes’.

I was strongly affected by Richard Dawkins’s description of the meme in The Selfish Gene (1976), which I read sometime in the 1980s. I developed some of my own ideas, and fully expected others to expand on the simple core Dawkins created. I eventually became convinced that I had to do the expanding myself, as the few people who seemed to be addressing memes didn’t have the same ideas as I have.

By 1990, I began developing a three-part work provisionally titled Memetics: Introduction, Applications, and Manifesto. I developed a good part of the introductory material, and took a stab at the manifesto. I intended to use the applications as a bridge between the other parts, and a demonstration of useful ways to think about how the meme idea can change our understanding of several social phenomena. The work has been dormant for several years.

Once I started thinking about writing my own work on memes, it was on my mind during all of my reading. I found many examples of memes and their application in many works. One of the motivations for writing my little book reports was to record these examples for my own later use. One of my reasons for reviewing these book reports is to refresh my memory, in case I the meme project rises to the top of my list of projects.

I now seldom use the term memetics, as it seems stilted and pretentious. If the field develops into a body of thought (i.e., a meme-plex) capable of organizing real research and analysis, it might become a useful word.

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