Sunday, September 02, 2007


So a little while back, I put up a meme for the book Hobby Games: The 100 Best, which pretty much means I reproduced the Table of Contents, and marking the titles in boldface for owning and italics for playing, and both if you own and have played.

Quick digression on the nature of the word "meme". It doesn't feel like the word means much at all, but it has taken firm root in the virtual world. I first heard it defined as an idea that spreads like a virus, but then, most ideas spread that way - replication leaving the original form unchanged, with some mutation in the prodigy. The Wiki definition calls a basic unit of cultural information which diffuses in the same manner as a gene does biologically. Except it doesn't, really. Needless to say, memes in a practical sense of the word include hit tunes, political slogans, and those darn LOLCats - stuff which is portrayed primarily to be passed along - the booster rocket by which other agendas (such as, say, putting cat pictures on the net, or selling some more books) can be tagged onto.

Anyway, I put together my meme, and launched it.

And .... Nothing happened. No, really. None of my regulars put it onto their blogs, and Feedster in the first couple days came up empty. So I let out a deep sigh, decided I wasn't nearly a popular as I might otherwise be (It's those long posts of collectible quarters - drives people away in droves) and went on with my life.

Then I ran into the publisher at PAX. We made small talk and he said, "Oh, yeah, Thanks for the meme." I blinked and he informed me that it was picked up by ENWorld, a BBS site that caters to gamers (BBS= Bulletin Board Service, which would not be found by something searching blogs). And from there it moved on to someone else's BBS, and from there to a variety of other blogs, which are now starting to pop up like mushrooms after a summer rain.

And I am pretty sure that these are descendants of my original post, since they keep the same format (what is bold, what is italics) and often the same instructions at the beginning (right down to the "You know the drill"). And I am seeing what they would call memetic drift - mutations in the list - adding an underline for "Games you would like to own", or even getting rid of the author names at the start (which makes sense as well, but I wanted to spread our names about - again, agendas). And after about a week, it seems to have died down again.

So, this is not to claim ownership (though I've seen a number of other "original creators" now), or even "first dibs", but merely to track how an idea/meme can be launched through non-linear means through the Internet Tubes. Which I think is pretty cool.

More later.