Friday, March 09, 2007

Tom Hayes on "Bemes"

Most of us in the integral community are familiar with the concept of memes, a word/concept first introduced by Richard Dawkins back in the 1970s. Now Tom Hayes claims to be responsible for the introduction of the word/concept "beme":

A beme is a turbo-charged meme made possible entirely by the existence of the network effect. A beme can be impactful because it is lurid--a photo of a panty-less Britney Spears, or humorous--a whimisical video of the band OKGO on treadmills, or gut-wrenching--the sad tirade by comedian Michael Richards. A beme can cement an idea with the public in a way that cannot be legislated or regulated. No legal effort by Cisco to enforce a trademark, for example, will make the public unlearn that Apple produces the iPhone.

  • A meme is old media, a beme is new media.
  • A meme takes off by accident, a beme by design.
  • A meme can take years to surface, a beme hours.

Moreover, people who create and spread bemes (let's call them "bemerz")--people like Shel Israel, Robert Scoble, Glenn Reynolds, Doc Searls, Dan Gillmor, John Battelle, Duncan Riley, Aaron Brazell, Jason Calacanis and Dave Sifry are today's cultural icons. When they beme to the world, they can spread an idea faster than any people in history.

Is this an useful addition to the lexicon?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, a beme is a very useful way to distinguish the intention of the artifact. For example a spoken prayer is a beme, a shared joke, a meme. Other languages are more subtle in these distinctions; English needs a broader paint set.