What is a Meme?

What is a Meme?

Over dinner conversation with a diverse group of thinkers - the questions was posed "what is a Meme?" I struggled with a concise definition along the lines of ... "it's an evolving mass of like-thoughts that a group of people subscribe to, add to, and riff on." What make it different from culture? um .... okay now I have to look it up and post a better definition here. Have at it ... - Brian

"A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with "cream"[1]) is a postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, and is transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena. (The etymology of the term relates to the Greek word mimema for "something imitated".)[2] Supporters of the concept regard memes as cultural analogues to genes, in that they self-replicate and respond to selective pressures.[3] Memeticists have not empirically proven the existence of discrete memes or their proposed mechanism, and memes (as distinct from ideas or cultural phenomena) do not form part of the consensus of mainstream social sciences. The word was first introduced by British scientist Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1976) to discuss evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. He gave as examples melodies, catch-phrases, and beliefs (notably religious beliefs), clothing/fashion, and the technology of building arches.[4] Meme-theorists contend that memes evolve by natural selection (in a manner similar to that of biological evolution) through the processes of variation, mutation, competition, and inheritance influencing an individual entity's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread, and (for better or for worse) mutate. Theorists point out that memes which replicate the most effectively spread best, and some memes may replicate effectively even when they prove detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.[5]" find more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme