Meme-Wrangling (Part 2)

0. Intro 🐳

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
~ T. S. Eliot (in The Rock)

Where We Had Gone Then

Following on the heels of the previous post—Meme-Wrangling (Part 1)—that being the first in a two-part series, we’ve got in store for you some more (but with a twist.) This time, we’re going to (mostly) let the images do the talking; fancy that, the accompanying images miming away their messages to you!

Here’s the deal: The warm response from readers (just like you!) indicated that we had hit a nerve with all things visualization. Specifically, what you resonated with was the role which visualization plays in spreading memes, with a focus on the viral speed with which memes spread nowadays (through Instagram, YouTube, and friends.)

Oh, did I mention that last time we even checked out—in the comments section of the previous post—an intriguing picture capturing how millions of termites built an amazing Australian termite castle (all without a leader in sight), and brought to the attention of the general public by Daniel Dennet in his terrific book entitled Bacteria to Bach and Back The Evolution of Minds (published by W.W. Norton)

Where We Are Going This Time

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s do a level set and refresh ourselves with a definition or two of a meme:

  1. Meme: an 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

With that theme (of a meme) in mind, let’s dive right into letting the images that follow do (most of) the talking—with the occasional pointer or two thrown in—regaling us in the goodness of memes in all their rich varieties.

1. Of Polymorphism (And Of Composition) 📦

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
– Rumi

Change is the only constant, nothing stays the same. Oh my, don’t we know that!

Or do we? Just to see where you stand, I invite you to check out the meme of the boiling frogs.

But what—and if you will now cast your gaze upward a bit at this section’s title—do polymorphism and composition have to do with the theme of change? Here’s what, even as I implore you to remain mindful of the key role that encapsulation has played in taming software design complexity:

OO makes code understandable by encapsulating moving parts. FP makes code understandable by minimizing moving parts.
~ Michael Feathers (@mfeathers)

And if you want more—a whole lot more—then all you have to do is head over to the curious case of

When Object Orientation Met Functional Programming

Whoa, what’s that wood-encased contraption all about, you know the one now coming into view?

2. The Ebb And Flow Of Paradigms 🌊

If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.
– Abraham Lincoln

Look to the skies and behold how the winds of change blow us hither and thither. Wait, I’ve got my metaphors crossed…

So yes, I was going to say—having scrambled to disentangle the skies metaphor from the oceans one—that the ebb and flow of paradigms continues unabated (to this day.) For the canonical scoop on this particular meme, you really should have a look at the much-abused phrase “paradigm shift”.

(Oh, and for the decidedly non-canonical scoop on the “ebb-and-flow-of-paradigms” meme, you can—make that, you should—check: On the Unreasonable Effectiveness of Patterns).

But you still haven’t told us what that outlandish wood-encased contraption is doing here?!“, you implore, justifiably so. So yes, that unprepossessing contraption is a pre-memetic era wireless radio, encased in some quality wood, seated demurely, amirite?

But right next up, and standing tall, there’s a whole lot of books, along with a smattering of memorabilia, strategically sprinkled around.

3. Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants 🌋

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
– Linus Pauling

When Sir Isaac Newton opined that “If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants“, he could easily have been speaking from the POV (aka Point Of View) of the three books in the picture above, which stand tall on the shoulders of their bookish brethren.

And the meme—that also being the underlying theme—here is clearly one of cooperation. Forget internecine, forget zero-sum games. Think instead to (the theme of) more giving, and less taking: Turn to the works of Adam Grant.

More details, prequel-style, here.

4. Inspiration Is A Perishable Commodity 💸

There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can’t move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies.
– Robert Frost

The observant reader—that’s you of course—will by now be impatient about reminding me (much as my ragtag writing staff is at this very moment!) of a promise I had made at the outset, when I had boldly said: “This time, we’re going to (mostly) let the images do the talking; fancy that, the accompanying images miming away their messages to you!

So what happened since then? Ahem, in full disclosure, let’s just say that it’s time for a confession, or two.

For one thing, we got carried away. One word led to another, leading to a torrent… All is not lost, though.

So yeah, we’re going the mime route pronto, amirite?

Let’s draw inspiration, especially as we’re in the thick of it, less it expire. Don’t perspire, it’s time to be inspired, beginning with building a bridge coming right up.

5. A Bridge To The Future 🎢

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
– Albert Einstein

You see, there were mountains in our way, but we take a step every day. That’s how we reclaim our humanity, though not without a hefty dollop of willpower.

And no, technology is far from the maligned two-faced Janus it’s occasionally made up to be. All the same, when Einstein speaks—more like, spoke—you better listen up, such as when he opined (above) on the perils of technology.

We got this one down, ship-shape, mate.

6. The “Liberation” Of Software ⛵

A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for.
– William Shedd

Are those actually toy-laden boxes—more like, massive containers—above, the ones which bedeck the ocean liner ahoy? If they are, this may be the place of choice for all those who unrepentantly believe that whoever has the most toys at the end of the day wins, amirite?

At any rate, technology can—actually has always been—a double-edged sword. So who’s gonna come along and liberate the shackled masses, yearning to breathe free? Shall we make a dash for it while we can?

If software can claim to be (a tad) more than a set of instructions for computers, is it conceivably up there as a full-fledged enabler of global imperatives and policies? Who’s gonna put “free” in “free software?”

Yo, Docker—and Kubernetes—thank you for your liberating impact.

7. Slow Down To Speed Up 🐌

When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
– John Muir

Let’s end our decidedly interlocked dialog on memes—one between interlocutor and captive reader—by sounding some polite notes of civilized diffidence.

Behold the interconnectedness of it all. And lest we snarl up the soothing cadence of a Tetris game in flight—tick-tock, tick-tock—and lest we be lulled by its metronome-like spell, shall we remind ourselves that we are the masters of memes (and not the other way around)?

Will the blind watchmaker like to stand up at this time and make herself (or himself) heard on this subject, or forever keep her (or his) silence?

You see, even as you beam that this essay is finally drawing to a close—do you, really?—our universe teams with memes. Nay, it’s bursting at its seams with reams and reams of themes, arguably best encapsulated as—you got it—memes.

What will it be next time?

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