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Understanding the meme

Abby Rabinowitz, writing for Nautilus about memes:

But trawling the Internet, I found a strange paradox: While memes were everywhere, serious meme theory was almost nowhere. Richard Dawkins, the famous evolutionary biologist who coined the word “meme” in his classic 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, seemed bent on disowning the Internet variety, calling it a “hijacking” of the original term. The peer-reviewed Journal of Memetics folded in 2005. “The term has moved away from its theoretical beginnings, and a lot of people don’t know or care about its theoretical use,” philosopher and meme theorist Daniel Dennett told me. What has happened to the idea of the meme, and what does that evolution reveal about its usefulness as a concept?

Worth setting a little time aside to read this. It give some great history of memes as they’re understood in digital culture, but also the scientific background (and, to some degree, the lack of it) for the behaviour they invoke. The idea of vitality is far more complex than we give it credit for.

unsplash-logoHal Gatewood

Science publishing ripe for disruption?

I wonder how long scientific publishers can cling to their existing models when they’re eliciting this level of active hostility from their customers:

Once I did hear about Elsevier’s behaviour, I made a conscious decision not to publish in Elsevier journals and I started to feel bad about cooperating with them in any way. I didn’t go as far as to refuse, but if, say, I was asked to join the editorial board of an Elsevier journal and wasn’t quite sure I wanted to, then the fact that it was Elsevier was enough to make my mind up. (This actually happened. I was a little cowardly and gave it as an additional reason for reluctance rather than the main reason, but I did at least mention it.) I am not knowingly on the editorial board of any Elsevier journal, and haven’t been in the past either.

Stay for the comments, if you want to see a broader range of opinions.

I’ve noted a surge in posts about Open Access Publishing and other alternative methods of publishing scientific research over the last fortnight – anyone know why that might be?