I am really getting into meme theory.

What is a meme, you ask (or judging by my analytics, nobody asks)?

A meme is a unit of cultural information, diffusion, or cultural evolution. It is basically a unit of measurement for cultural properties. I imagine some might be asking what pottery and art have to do with scientific theory, but culture is defined here in the broader scope. Culture is, in essence, anything not involving the day to day procedures necessary to sustain life. Art, religion, language, customs, traditions, media.

A meme attempts to demonstrate, scientifically, that cultural entities adapt, develop, and disseminate much the same way physical or quantifiable properties do. Furthermore, “memeticists argue that the memes most beneficial to their hosts will not necessarily survive; rather, those memes that replicate the most effectively spread best, which allows for the possibility that successful memes may prove detrimental to their hosts.”


Think of slang. Slang has served communities in their capacity in communicating with one another, but once spread past the core community, it can retroactively serve to adversely affect the parent community. For example, a good deal of traditionally African-American slang has migrated from the confines of the African-American community into mainstream culture, being adopted by a disparate number of groups as a sign of contemporary maturation, basically stating I am aware the modern and fashionable trends of linguistic culture. However, it is reverse engineered back to the African-American culture from where it was created to demean them, allow them to serve as contemporary scapegoats for modern ills, such as youth violence, gang cultures, etc…

It is a meme that often damages the host. It is a unit of cultural measurement.

Soon, I will bore the remaining few readers with a discussion of panarchy.

You can link to the wikipedia definition by clicking the title.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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