Phil and Stephen, from The Speculist, talk about the importance of Memes and ask "How important are ideas in shaping the future"?
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"The term meme was originally coined in the 1970s by Richard Dawkins, a British scientist and author of The Selfish Gene. Dawkins says a meme is something that spreads from person to person within a culture — like a toy craze or a pop song."
Memes — What do the opening notes of Beethoven’s "Symphony Number Five" and a rabbit named Oolong balancing a pancake on his head have in common? They’re both examples of memes – units of culture that are imitated and, as a result, copied from one brain to another. Are memes the driving force behind cultural evolution?
Remember Susan Boyle? "David After Dentist"? "Keyboard Cat"? All recent internet sensations, and all well on their way to being forgotten for the next thing. Bill Wasik is a senior editor at Harper’s magazine. He’s credited with organizing the first flash mob, in New York City in 2003. He points to similar Web–driven hits (and his own online pranks) to show how the internet has sped up the stream of culture. But not just for celebrities and funny videos: music, news, politics, advertising. Wasik says it all becomes "nanostories" that tumble over each other — "a churning culture of distraction." Bill Wasik looks at how the digital revolution is changing culture in his book, "And Then There’s This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture." He spoke at Town Hall in Seattle on June 16, 2009.