Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meme Culture

Having had some time to distance myself from recent events there's a general point that I'd like to address. The blogosphere is usually a pretty friendly place, and often when someone says something on one blog another will respond. There have been days when When Fangirls Attack is composed entirely of links to various points of view about the same topic, many of which will reference each other. One blogger will come up with an idea and another will take it up and play with it. Only a couple of days ago Sleestak made a reference to Editorial Swimwear and linked to a post of mine that defined the concept. But it wasn't my original idea. I think it was first used by Dave of Dave's Long Box, but I'm not 100% sure.

EDIT: Close, but no bikini. Dave first discussed the subject, but calls it the de-nudifying effect. It was Tom the Dog, responding to Dave's article, who first used the phrase, but even there it's only the title. Tom still calls it the de-nudifying effect in the article, and even says "I have no reason to call it anything else." I'm beginning to wonder if I wasn't actually the first to use it directly. This turns out to be a great example of the blogosphere group mind at work.
And then there are the deliberate memes, where somebody has a notion and actively encourages other bloggers to respond with their take on the idea. It's a friendly sharing community.

So when somebody stands up and says "I object to other people using my ideas or writing about my topics" it throws a spanner in the works for everyone. Particularly when he does it retroactively, which makes it appear that he has been uncomfortably tolerating the practice for a year and putting a brave face on it by commenting positively when people do it. It makes everyone stop and wonder if they have been unintentionally offending someone they thought they were sharing a joke with.

There isn't an easy answer. If everyone sticks carefully to their own schtik for fear of offending anyone then we lose all the fun and the interaction that makes the blogosphere a community. If someone doesn't wish to participate in this to and fro they can prominently display a notice on their blog to this effect, but would it damage the community anyway?

I don't have a solution. I'm just asking the question. Feel free to apply your own thoughts to the subject, either here or any other forum. Just let me know so I can follow it.


Anonymous said...

Anyone who seriously tries to claim "his topics" deserves only to be laughed at, and if necessary, shunned. (I'm suddenly reminded of James Meeley, even though I know he's not the one you're speaking of.) If you don't want open conversation, get off the internet.

Tom the Dog said...


Okay, not really.

I suspect I originated the phrase "editorial swimwear," though you're right, I only used it in the title, and used Dave's term in the text. Then, when Dave did a new post on the subject, he referred back to my post and the "editorial swimwear" term, so... I don't know. I'm certainly not going to claim dominion over it, though I have been quietly proud to see the term used by other blogs since then. I haven't added much to the comics blogosphere as a whole -- I'm a pop culture blogger, with only occasional, and increasingly less-frequent, comics material -- so I like to think my miniscule contribution was introducing that one, single phrase. But I'm not going to fight anyone over credit for it, either.

Marionette said...

Tom, It's your invention, as far as I can see. I suspect Dave used it before I did, though I haven't been able to find it, but you clearly used it first.

It's a great phrase and I hope that when it is properly acknowledged and appears in real encyclopedias (or Wikipedia) it will be credited to you.

Disintegrating Clone said...

This is the reason you can't patent or copyright ideas. The blogosphere is rife with posters developing, copying, paying tribute to and blatantly ransacking others. Most bloggers post at an amazing rate and it would be incredible if stuff didn't slip through.

I doubt if one in a hundred bloggers would agree with "I object to other people using my ideas or writing about my topics". Hey, Johanna just said that. Does that mean I've just copied her idea?

Two of my friends once had a fight. Over nothing at all. It just sprang up and they were at each other's throats. Sometimes one personality just sets another off. If I were you, I'd try to mark this one down as an aberration on his part. And if it keeps happening, well, the blogosphere is a big place and not everybody is going to get on with everyone else. The only solution is to stay away from that blog.

Look at it this way: you write posts that have an opinion. Some people are going to hate you for it, but plenty of others will keep reading because the worst sin in writing is blandness. Don't let this affair phase you.

Marionette said...

The funny thing is that I've actually written more since the incident than the whole of the previous month.