Networks Need the Functionality Memes Provide

Networks Need the Functionality Memes Provide

By: Daniel Jeffers - Search Engine Optimization - 2014

Memes provide several critical functions that enable networks. While memes may not be the only way this functions can be performed, many online and offline networks do use them this way. The critical functions include::

Activation and Mapping. A meme, say an inside joke or clever code, can travel through many paths, mapping out the network of those who get the joke or understand the reference. Often, these paths may be new, a response to a new issue or concern. As an example, in April 2007 the MCAA tried to suppress the publication of a number. The number could be used as part of a process to decrypt DVDs. As soon as word spread that the MCAA was trying to suppress the number, thousands of users began posting it, converting into song, adding it to images, and even writing it into haiku. The meme of transforming or posting this number in unusual places spread rapidly, activating a network of people who, for widely varying reasons, opposed the MCAA’s efforts. In case you need it for anything, the number is:  09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

Identification and ranking of nodes. Using memes proficiently is a common way to identify someone in a particular network. Like secret hand-shakes and inside jokes (which are also memes), an Internet meme provides an instant sense of commonality. Misuse of a meme may invite scorn, identifying the user as a newcomer (n00b) or an outsider. In some cases, people want to be identified with a network, but in a way that avoids identification by other parties, such as the government. Chinese dissidents are using memes for network identification while staying below the radar of authorities.

Prepare network for higher levels of collaboration. The defeat of SOPA/PIPA was brought on by meme-based networks and communities. Many individuals and bloggers were blacking out their websites, or preparing to do so, when Reddit, a memetic community, joined in. Reddit users have a lot of impact in the tech community—soon Wikipedia joined, and finally Google participated in their own fashion.