in order to exist online we must write ourselves into being

A few days ago I got ‘meme-tagged’… thanks Alan.


For those who don’t know what this means, it’s like a game. Someone somewhere comes up with a themed question that they answer & then send to a few others to do the same, who in turn pass it on to others, and the whole thing snowballs. Most memes seem to be social, name your top 5 movies and why, or 10 things that would surprise people to know about you, or whatever. They can be conversation starters, they can be excuses to show off, they’re a bit of a blogger’s rite of passage. After all, if you get meme-tagged it, it’s a proof of your online existence - it means that someone, somewhere reads your stuff!


Although the quote in this slide isn’t specifically to do with memes, it seemed apt. It comes from another of Danah Boyd’s great essays about online community.

In full Danah writes: “Jenny Sundén (2003) argues that, in order to exist online, we must write ourselves into being. From the flow of text in chatrooms to the creation of Profiles, people are regularly projecting themselves into the Internet so that others may view their presence and interact directly with them. Social network sites take this to the next level because participants there write their community into being through the process of Friending”.


So back to the meme I’ve been tagged with. The task is “naming five reasons why you do (or do not) respond to memes”. Clearly the fact that I am writing this means that I respond… well sometimes anyway! Here’s my reasons:


1) If responding doesn’t require too much thought or time, then hey why not. A bit of frivolity is good for the soul.


2) Participating in these things is, in a weird way, a bit like being a ‘good internet neighbour’. If someone takes the time to nominate me then responding is just basic politeness.


3) I’ve always been a sucker for those ‘six degrees of separation’ type things. So I like the concept of passing it on to a few other people, who then pass it on, and so on in a big chain. Of course, online it takes on another dimension as you can pass it on to people who you don’t actually know except by virtue of reading their blogs. So it’s a kind of ice-breaker, a way to say ‘hello, I like your stuff’.


4) If the meme is really inane or for a cause I don’t particularly support, then most likely I’d just never get round to doing it.


5) I’m wary of internet chain letters. You know, those emails that it seems all new or elderly internet users love to forward on. The “10 great things about friendship” or, worse, the “why you should remember jesus loves you” religious ones that threaten damnation if you don’t immediately send it to all in your address book. *sigh* There’s no polite way to tell the people sending them to STOP without causing offence. I can’t help but wonder if meme-tagging sometimes elicits the same kind of response. So, even if I myself answer the questions, I might not always pass it on to others.


In this instance, however, I will pass it on… In the icebreaker “hello out there” spirit, I’m tagging a few bloggers I don’t know except that I came across their blogs in the past 6 months or so and found them intriguing enough that they earned a place in my bloglines feeds. All three give me a little window into worlds I know nothing about, for which I thank them. So without further ado, I hereby tag:


SoupTwin-1 at “Where Religion Meets New Media” and

Paul at “Fishers, Surfers and Castors”

– I stumbled across both these blogs a few months ago, when a colleague asked if there was any research to show how particular religious communities might differ in their exposure to online advertising. It was in the context of a banking client in a country where there are some pretty strong religious divides, and they wanted to know whether there was anything noticeably different about internet use patterns that might mean that a sizeable chunk of the population might simply miss their online campaign. Anyway, the intersection of the internet with religion wasn’t something I’d thought much about before, and it’s not something I’d come across in my own experience. I like these blogs as they help me see an aspect of the online environment that I imagine is important to a great swathe of the population which I’d otherwise know nothing of.


Hash at “White African – Where Technology and New Media Collide”

- I came across this blog when I was researching the state of digital developments in Africa. Africa is a continent I know little about and have never yet visited, so I rely on blogs like this one to help point me in the direction of interesting articles and stats. By the way, don’t be put off by the blog title, I remember I was a little wary when I first came across it, memories of apartheid and all that, but the focus of writing is on the tagline.


Image from Flickr CC thanks to (: Petra :)


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Uploaded on February 17, 2007