What the heck is a meme?

Ok, I know what a meme is in principal.  But every time I asked someone to tell me what it is, I got this gobbledygook of technobabble about genes and evolution and conversation.  And when I ask for an example, no one can remember one.  And because I could never get a solid example, the concept was alway murky for me.  But today, I fell into a meme.  Now I know what it is.  I'm going to share.

A meme is a web-based conversation that generally has a life of its own.  Consider the email-based urban myth about Madelyn Murray O'Hare trying to get religious programs off TV.  That's a meme.  It's not a good thing, but that's an example.  Memes have basic characteristics in all their forms.  That's where the gene thing comes into being.  My son and I look different, but we share the same genes.  A meme can appear in many conversations that appear completely unrelated, but there are certain aspects of the conversation that link them together.  Sometimes you can strictly control the meme/conversation but what fun is that.

Here's the meme I fell into today.  

I've been studying Twitter for sometime, reading articles, blog posts, books and my own pathetic scrawlings to figure out how to best use it.  My study actually began with a post on doshdosh.com 17 ways you can use Twitter that I discovered two years ago and pretty much disagreed with.  I've been adding to my notes and coming up with ways to find the best use of the platform for my partners (I used to call them clients, but that's another story).  Anyway, I came up with five points that I wanted to drive home and today was the day to unveil them during a consult session.

I rolled out my intro about how Twitter has changed from something that was fairly vapid to something newsworthy and how you shouldn't worry about how many followers you have unless you're famous like Demi Moore.  The guys I was doing the consult to said, "sounds like you're reading from Guy Kawasaki's blog."

Ok, I do read Guy's blog and get a lot of good stuff out of it, but this wasn't one of them.  In fact, I am way behind on my Alltop reading, but the post Guy shared came from another blog called How to get Focused, which had seven points, four of which were almost identical to four of my five.

Were we all plagarizing from each other? Nope.  But we are all circulating around the same water cooler, pontificating, musing and questioning each other, so it not unlikely that we are going to come to some of the same conclusions.  And that is what memes are, just in case you were wondering.