Friday, September 23, 2005

Meme propagation accelerating

The speed of meme transmission has been accelerating, from years (5-10 years ago) to months (1-3 years ago) to weeks and even days. Dawkins was right.

Meme propagation has been speeding up for a variety of reasons, most prominently due to blogs and the rise of the creative class.

There are over 30 million blogs estimated to be in the Anglosphere (e.g,; blogs written in English), only 2% of them are read by more than 250 people but the ones that are read are read immediately, by thought and action influencers and statured blog authors are taken much more seriously than traditional media. Ideas are transmitted at the speed of thought to hundreds and soon to be millions of eager readers.

Second, as a prior post "Involuntary Third Culture GroupThink?" discusses, the ever-growing creative class community anticipates and is on the lookout to immediately assess, reshape and apply worthwhile memes in their daily lives.

Some examples of accelerating propagation in the memosphere are first of all the word meme itself. Originated by Richard Dawkins in the Selfish Gene published in 1976 and further explicated by Susan Blakemore in the Meme Machine published in 1999, the term only circled uber-geek circles for years until it went techy mainstream in 2005. It is still not in the non-techy mainstream. By contrast, Chris Anderson's long tail meme appeared in October 2004, and went techy mainstream in 2005. Even faster has been the world-is-flat meme, surfacing in Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, published in 2005 and less than half a year later, is fully entrenched in the techy mainstream.