Mindworks’ Weblog

Thinking Matters

iTeme

Posted by Andrew Cooper on September 26, 2008

I was digging around on Google recently and, completely coincidentally, came across three sites in a row which looked as though they were WordPress powered.  I glanced at the source code pages and, hey presto, they were!  This is one of them.  According to a survey in March this year there were roughly 163 million websites at the time with the number growing rapidly.  I’ve registered quite a few URLs over the past few months, and am about to register another one, so take part of the blame myself.

WordPress sites are easy to spot.  There are many high profile ones, but the easy to spot ones are often really good looking sites which are obviously aimed at relatively small groups.

It’s not surprising that WordPress is popular: it’s good.

A while ago I mentioned in a post that psychologist Susan Blackmore had coined the word ‘teme’ as a variation on Richard Dawkins’ ‘meme’ which referred to “information that is copied outside of human brains by some kind of technology”.  Here she is, writing about the idea – she says, rather charmingly – ‘I don’t think “teme” is a very good word.’

Well, I’ve come up with an even worse word – iteme – It refers to information that is copied outside human brains by some kind of technology which is itself about technology.  Hah!  I see your teme, Ms Blackmore, and raise you.  I considered tteme – or maybe t’teme (which has to be said in a Yorkshire accent) – but iTeme goes along with Ipod, Iplayer, Itunes, iPM and all the rest.  Like it?  No, I didn’t think you would.

We also need a new word for a website which is a blog as well as a website, if you see what I mean.  Many WordPress sites aren’t used for blogging at all.  Some are just blogs.  Others are both.  Perhaps we just need to go back to weblog and re-define it.  Or maybe weblogweb.  Tricky.

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2 Responses to “iTeme”

  1. Thanks for helping the teme meme to continue its sporadic propagation.
    iteme is a step on from teme but I’m unsure as to whether we really need the word “teme” let alone further variants. This depends on how we conceptualise the evolutionary process and what counts as a new replicator. Even so, I am collecting up people’s suggestions and will soon publish a list of them all – maybe something other than teme will win – or maybe we should just stick to meme.

  2. Many thanks for your comment Susan. iTeme is certainly a ’eme too far but I just like playing with words.

    I guess that, virtually all memes are transmitted via some form of technology except when we’re actually physically with other people. Books, letters, television, phone and so on.

    There’s obviously a strong link between temes and memes and Clay Shirky’s idea of cognitive surplus, which I’ve wittered on about here quite a lot.

    I was at a meeting this week to discuss organising the Newbury Carnival: I look after the carnival’s website http://www.newburycarnival.org.uk. At one point in the meeting, someone who was sitting in said ‘How do you manage to do this with so few meetings’. I said ’email’. He replied ‘I don’t see how you can do anything sitting behind a computer’. (At the time, I was making notes of the meeting on my laptop!).

    Shirky points out that many people see computer based communication this way – as a solitary activity. I felt like giving an impromptu lecture about the idea of cognitive surplus, but just said ‘well, there are lots of different ways of communicating and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. You do need to meet people face to face or talk to them on the phone because email is a bad way of, for example, recruiting volunteers: you have to ask them directly. But once you’ve agreed to do something, emails, websites/wikis/blogs are a really efficient way of getting ideas out of your head into someone else’s. Really efficient!

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