Meme-Wrangling (Part 1)

Intro ⛄

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
-Voltaire

The responsibility is weighing me down; this is not a matter for snowflakes, yo Voltaire. We’re talking about wrangling memes down to the ground. How heavy is that, this talk of grappling with the ethereal critters known as memes?

You see, I grew up in the city of Lahore in Pakistan on a steady diet of futuristic books. Future Shock and The Third Wave (both by Alvin Toffler) come to mind. Inside my boyhood home—I sure miss plucking and eating guava fruit, aka “amrood” for those in the know, straight from the fruit-laded guava trees lining our backyard—meanwhile, other books decking the hallway included several dozen by the inimitable Isaac Asimov; yes, him of the Foundation Series fame which, IMHO, put the science fiction genre on the map.

So what does this all have to do with memes, let alone the notion of wrangling memes?“, you ask.

Well, nothing. And everything.

The deal is, and notwithstanding mutual exclusion—look, writers way out of my league, such as the dickens of a boffin Charles Dickens, what with his opining in A Tale of Two Cities that it was the best of times and the worst of times, all at the same time—memes have nothing, and everything to do with what’s coming right up.

With that, I invite you to join me on a meme-wrangling cruise as we prepare to set sail (or at least start rowing) in those alluring, navy-blue boats on the sandy shores ahoy.)

Setting Sail to Wrangle Some Memes 🏃

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.
—Jack Handey

Trust me, this essay isn’t going to be longwinded; we’ve been there, we’ve done that, and many times over, too, amirite? I mean, we have only to cast our eyes back—in hindsight, 2020, if you will—at 2020, to remind ourselves that we weren’t all that frugal with words most of the time, for example check these (past) adventures:

Oh, the places we’ve been…

I will remember those adventures. And I will remember you. Will you remember me?

How, Exactly, Does One Wrangle Memes? 🐉

Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here. This is the war room.
—President Merkin Muffley (Peter Sellers), Dr. Strangelove

Indeed, how, exactly, does one wrangle these meme critters? Well, let’s start by getting ourselves a half-decent definition or two:

  1. Memean idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture
  2. Meme: an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media

What, did I hear you say that you want to redeem your meme for Monopoly money? Some people sure can be, shall we say, thrifty (and we’re barely into the year 2021, for crying out loud.)

Anyhow, with our newfound understanding of memes—yep, with those critters under our belt—it’s time to plow forward in the spirit of the red little engine that could. And did.

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going in for a good old spin on a turntable in the railways dock.

Vision Is Everything 🚂

Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.
– Niccolo Machiavelli

Thanks to the marvelous photography by Bernard Spragg of New Zealand, we get to ogle at the turntable in the pic above. You see, the NZR AB class was a class of 4-6-2 Pacific tender steam locomotive that operated on New Zealand’s national railway system. The AB class, you see, was the largest class of steam locomotives ever to run in New Zealand.

Did you pause on seeing mention of… “steam locomotives”?!

I mean, we have a meme right there, and an iconic one at that: Steam locomotives did nothing less than usher in a new tech era, amirite? Visualize that.

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants 🏰

Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.
– Immanuel Kant

And here I invite you to cast your eyes back (and up) at the very first picture adorning this essay, up atop (a handful of scrolls up.) In particular, if you check the jellyfish-sporting-cover of the microservices book standing on the shoulders of some fine literary specimens—you know the one wedged between CLR via C# and Building the Internet of Things—what comes to mind?

If you said, “A big gooey sea creature is all I can think of“, that’s perfectly fine. That it undoubtedly is.

But maybe there’s more…

Such as a meme or two hiding behind the tentacled leitmotif of that worryingly fearsome sea creature. Indeed, check what’s happening in this area right here:

And now we have a traffic jam on our hands, amirite?

Memes Lend Themselves (Well) To Distribution (Really Well) 🐙

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.
– George Bernard Shaw

Flash crowd or something, I can’t tell, but it sure looks like a distributed systems problem in disguise! But what’s this coming my way?

Ah, so my trusty writing staff has discreetly handed me a slip, informing me that we’ve run out of space—now fancy that, happening around here in our Programming Digressions territory—and that Part 1 (of our two-part meme-wrangling foray) needs to draw to a close.

 

 

 

4 comments

  1. Good point! Visualization does help memes to be spread. That might explain a lot of memes are quickly spread out through Instagram and YouTube nowadays. Good influencers know what images match with their contents.

    • Deep insight there, Xin, regarding how visualization helps memes spread! Oh goodness, tell me about the viral spread of memes (through Instagram, YouTube, and friends) nowadays. Outside of (digital) social media, and looking to (non-digital) book media for a minute, I can’t help but think to a marvelous picture I came across (a few years ago) in a Daniel Dennett book: Check the intriguing picture of how millions of termites built an amazing Australian termite castle (all without a leader in sight) in his terrific book entitled Bacteria to Bach and Back.

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