(May 2003 - March 2007.) Tama's thoughts on the blogosphere, podcasting, popular culture, digital media and citizen journalism posted from a laptop computer somewhere in Perth's isolated, miniature, urban jungle ...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Philosophical Sunday ... on a Tuesday

Well, there's a new meme on the block, courtesy of Nr Nath at bingtek.com. It's called Philosophical Sunday which Mr Nath describes as:
Every Sunday I will post an idea/question/scenario that is designed to provoke thought, and in most cases, some would say, on a 'Philosophical' level.
The pedant in me might point out that this is really a 'hypothetical Sunday', but the meme sounds interesting enough for now, so I'll give it a bash.

This week's scenario is:
You have a very vivid nightmare. In this nightmare you see the entire planet almost totally destroyed. There are only about 2000 people left that have survived a horrific event. In this nightmare there is a lot of chaos, people are scared, people are grieving, people are questioning their religious beliefs. It has come time for someone to give a speech to the frightened masses. The result of this speech needs to have a very powerful impact on the frightened masses.
Post-apocalyptic scenarios like this one in films inevitably lead to a presidential figure (more often than not Morgan Freeman) ranting on about the survival of humanity, when he really means the perpetuation of the American Dream. However, my favourite inspirational speech of all time is in Dan Simmons' amazing book The Rise of Endymion (the last of the Hyperion Cantos). In it, Aenea, The One Who Teaches, gives the simplest, but most appropriate speech you can give. It was two words: 'Choose Again'. These two words work for almost any scenario, but however the human race ended up so small in this hypothetical scenario, they should be re-evaluationing and not making the mistakes of the past. They should choose again.

So, what's a meme, then?

Well, according to meme.com, a meme is:
an idea, or a particular way of thinking about what an idea is. A meme is a unit of mental information in the same way that a gene is a unit of biological information -- a metaphor of an idea as a transposon, a pattern of thought as a virus, a knowledge structure as a chromosome. Memes compete to spread their information though a social population in the same ways genes compete to spread their information content through a biological population.
For the most part, the ever-reliable (but subscription only) Oxford English Dictionary concurs, stating that memes are:
A cultural element or behavioural trait whose transmission and consequent persistence in a population, although occurring by non-genetic means (esp. imitation), is considered as analogous to the inheritance of a gene.
However, in terms of blogs, a meme is (according to bingtek.com):
an idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, like a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blog's.
So, all those buttons you've never really understood down the sidebar of a blog are probably memes--shared themes that have related questions once a week or so that bloggers all fill in as sort of a community idea. Personally, I've been a bit cynical about memes--they've always seemed more like a web traffic producing gimic, to me, but I'm going to give Mr Nath's a try for a few weeks and see if the idea grows on me or not.


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