Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 283.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
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Date: Tue, 07 Oct 2003 07:00:18 +0100
From: Adrian Miles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 17.276 queries and observations
At 6:05 +0100 3/10/03, Alexandre Enkerli wrote:
>This is something I keep coming across, especially on the Web. A specific
>word used by one person starts to appear everywhere. The kind of word you
>know but never use, you start using in conversation after reading or
>hearing it. A fascinating phenomenon from many different points of view:
>literary, cognitive, sociolinguistic, commercial...
>Of course, I might notice it more because of the context but there's
>something to be said about words suddenly gaining frequency. And this is
>not just for catch-phrases and buzzwords. Even fairly neutral words may
>look like they tie two articles or two conversations. And they can only
>imply these two occurrences or spring into a meme-like epidemic propagation.
>Anyone working on anything like this? There's bound to be a body of
>literature on such subjects but what would be a quick summary of such
They're known in some communities as memes,
from memory (and it is an old one), Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary
biologist (?) had or has a lot to say about memes.
+ interactive desktop video researcher [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/] + research blog [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au/vog/vlog/] + hypertext rmit [http://hypertext.rmit.edu.au]
[On memes see, for example, Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), pp. 302-9; earlier, his The Selfish Gene (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1976; new edn with additional material, 1989). You may also find helpful Susan Blackmore, "Imitation and the Definition of Meme", http://jom-emit.cfpm.org/1998/vol2/blackmore_s.html. --WM]
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