Two weeks ago, I posted a meme and tagged four people. I had no idea if they would post answers to the meme on their blogs. I wasn't even sure if they would realize that I had tagged them. Not being a meme-creator, I wasn't sure the protocol for tagging someone. It didn't matter though; I had fun writing the meme and posting my own answers. In some ways, it was no different than simply writing on my blog, although, in style and content, it wasn't typical of most of my blog posts.
But, within a day, Hobgoblin, Litlove and Dorothy had answered the meme -- and tagged other people. And then an interesting thing happened...my referrer log showed a blog that I had never seen before. Imani had answered the meme and linked to me. I enjoyed reading the responses and couldn't wait to see what others had to say. The next day I began to check Technorati (disappointingly slow in indicating new links) and Google, searching on key phrases from the meme.
I read more posts. I started to track them to see how the meme spread. A few days later I read of someone writing a paper for MLA on how quickly a meme spread, but he didn't do a meme, just simply asked people to link to him & post on their own blogs to help his 'research'. There was a bit of a tiff on his site about the methodology of his research. I'm not an academic, so I can't comment on the validity of his research, although it did seem to me that he wasn't really tracking how people picked up on an idea and posted similarly on blogs. Rather, he was testing how many times people could link to him. It seems like a MySpace "Won't you be my friend?" sort of a thing. Which is a little different than ideas spreading among interconnecting communities.
Intersecting communities -- that is what the blog world, at least the little corner of it that I inhabit, is about. A community where one can express one's self and exchange ideas with like minded bloggers. It's true that most memes tend towards the banal. It's an easy target to claim that they all are about "3 things about me...." But, what if they were? Does that matter? Does it matter if the growth of a meme is organic? And what does that really mean anyway? Is there a way in which the spread of an idea is not organic? Is it only organic if it is the little guys writing? Does an idea, or a meme, or a common writing prompt, loose its genuine quality if it gets too big? Can it get too big?
I don't think so. But, I do think it can grow beyond the point where it is easy to track. That is, unless you have limitless time in front of a computer to do keyword searches. From what I could find, 56 people have answered the meme. About another 6 - 8 have been tagged but haven't yet responded. You will find links to these posts here where I have a collection. But, as of today, I will not be posting additional links.
Here is why I'm stopping: 1) I don't have the time to spend, 2) while I'm interested in the spread of this meme because of the 'oh look where it is now!' factor, I don't know that I need to watch it any longer. Lastly: 3) Poetry Thursday used this meme (with my permission) as the weekly writing prompt. By early tomorrow morning, I suspect that I would find about 75-85 links on the PoetryThursday site. At twice what I've tracked down in the last two weeks, this is too great a number to keep up with it.
I have been surprised Â and delighted Â by how many people answered this meme before Poetry Thursday selected it for this week's writing idea. The best part though isn't that more than one or two people completed it, but the wide variety of replies that people across the blog world have given. The responses to the one prompt I recording in my follow up post have been amazing. I wish I could say that I had the foresight to realize I was setting up a metaphor and the resulting responses would be, of course, poetic, but it was much more serendipitous than that. The other answers will give up several wonderful poems and poets if you'd care to mine for those nuggets.
If following the links to this meme has shown me one thing, it is that there are many people who care deeply, are moved deeply, by poetry. That there exists such a vibrant, enthusiastic community of poets and poetry readers in the blog world is a beautiful thing. That they represent several smaller communities -- intersecting communities of people with similar interests -- is exciting.
I look forward to reading the Poetry Thursday responses and hope that the PT participants will enjoy sharing and discovering what others think about poetry.
Below is a chart that I did to track how the meme spread (yes, I'm a real geek!). It isn't very readable in this post, but it gives a graphical representation, even if you cannot read the data. The different colors represent different dates. If you're interested in a copy, email me at address in the side bar and I'll send you the pdf.