A Conversation for Memes and Memetics


Post 1

darth malice

Does a joke qualify as a meme? A lot of jokes are merely recycled ideas, with recent events used as a backdrop to a typical 'house style' of format. It seems that whenever a big news event occurs, very quickly jokes appear in pubs around the globe, which sound sooo familiar. Any thoughts?


Post 2

jon bunting

Maybe the joke can be compared to a species that is able to survive in many different climates by adapting and changing slightly, while other memes are not so versatile and are hence restricted to groups within the poulation. For instance a baker should know about yeast and flour and hence have a large store of memes on these subjects, while a carpenter will have a different set, but both will have shared store of jokes, possibly slightly altered to suit the local environment.


Post 3


Danield Dennett, in his book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, has a bit to say about joke evolution. He notes that it is very rare for anyone to be the known author of a joke, and likens this to the rarity of observing speciation in organisms. Jokes, he reckons, evolve gradually until (without anyone noticing if they're following events closely) a new joke has arisen.

Perhaps an old form has been elaborated or used in a new context, which is analogous to biological evolution. Sometimes the ideas from two jokes are blended to make a new one - a bit like sexual reproduction I suppose!

PS I spent an unhealthily long time in the company of such jokes, editing Twikker, the Sheffield Rag Mag - this account of jokes and their provenance certainly rings true.

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