Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Beme is giving power back to the people


Enrapturing bloggers, power users and video uploaders around the web lately is "meme", and recently also "beme". These two words can very much describe the www2's way when it comes to the spread of ideas, opinions, rumors and media - i.e. communication. Viral, wiki communication.
A meme is a unit of cultural information spread from one mind to another, a viral idea that gradually becomes common knowledge. This term was initially coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976's "The Selfish Gene" so to describe how human cultural information (tunes, catch-phrases, beliefs, fashions, building methods) managed to make its way across continents, cultures and time. Dawkins argued that memes can die out or survive and evolve on the basis of natural selection - if the information can sustain competition and can be developed into variations of itself, if it manages to mutate according to the demands of time then it will survive and grow, allowing humanity an introduction to a new piece of knowledge that will empower and promote its societies' interests.
Of course, as time passed people were looking for ways to spread there memes faster and more efficiently. Now, as the single individual takes the center of the global stage, memes are born and spread within hours via the internet, creating sort of growing hype-clouds or buzz-bubbles that either hold on and evolve or simply die out. See, I'm not talking here about viral advertising or spam email but rather about real ideas and technologies made for the adoption of multiple users.
In our era of Web2.0 blogers and other power users have a central role spreading memes, hence the term beme: meme spread by blogs. As Tom Hayes that coined the term argues that the beme may "have a short ride or a long tail", but bemes always "define the life of the blogosphere". As for me, I was impressed by this term's ability to capture the essence of the knowledge era we live in.
For example, the Wikipedia project of information enables anyone with an internet connection to submit new articles, and to edit articles that were already written by others. You can insert an article(meme) and then spread it around, and the articles' range is almost unlimited (from Metallica to Nuclear Fusion (don't worry - content is reviewed, edited and sometimes deleted if not accurate). Another example is Google's Ajax project - it has done much to use its popular search engine in order to push and promote the AJAX meme: it formed tools that use Java, JavaScript, embedded code and widgets - all to enable everybody to pick up this cool technology and use it thus spreading the word around; Adobe has recently discovered the catching internet meme power and is currently promoting Flash - implementing the technology into interactive communication devices while using the internet's and the blogsphere's viral nature to spread the word around.
When a power blogger is into an idea - they have the power to build it up, send it out and spread it faster than anyone else - they operate within a rapidly moving and growing network of people using the same platform as they do thus taking their word and passing it on - we are all potential beme spreaders. Thus today, spreading an idea may take hours instead of years it should have taken only 20 years ago.
As today every one owns the entire web, true communication power has returned to its initial place - to me and to you. We don't have to go through syndications of information, we don't want encyclopedia books to tell us the true historical events and we don't want to listen to TV commercials - we RSS our interests to create information and pass it on, we wiki our history and ideas and WE own the buzz.


butlimous said...

Thanks for the nice post!

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