Competition and Success in the Meme Pool: A Case Study on

author: Michele Coscia, Center for International Development (CID), Harvard University
published: April 3, 2014,   recorded: July 2013,   views: 1757

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The advent of social media has provided data and insights about how people relate to information and culture. While information is composed by bits and its fundamental building bricks are relatively well understood, the same cannot be said for culture. The fundamental cultural unit has been defined as a ``meme''. Memes are defined in literature as specific fundamental cultural traits, that are floating in their environment together. Just like genes carried by bodies, memes are carried by cultural manifestations like songs, buildings or pictures. Memes are studied in their competition for being successfully passed from one generation of minds to another, in different ways. In this paper we choose an empirical approach to the study of memes. We downloaded data about memes from a well-known website hosting hundreds of different memes and thousands of their implementations. From this data, we empirically describe the behavior of these memes. We statistically describe meme occurrences in our dataset and we delineate their fundamental traits, along with those traits that make them more or less apt to be successful.

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