Memetracking for science!

I’ve wondered before about how one might measure the spread of memes across blogland, and now Scott Eric Kaufman is doing exactly that in preparation for a panel on academic blogging at the MLA. Here’s the post explaining his project in full; here’s the basic explanation:

Most memes, I’d wager, are only superficially organic: beginning
small, they acquire minor prominence among low-traffic blogs before
being picked up by a high-traffic one, from which many more low-traffic
blogs snatch them.  Contra blog-triumphal models of memetic
bootstrapping, I believe most memes are—to borrow a term from Daniel Dennett‘s rebuttal of punctuated equilibrium—"skyhooked" into prominence by high-traffic blogs.

For my talk at the MLA, I’d prefer being able to quantify this triumphalism with hard numbers. … Since I lack foresight, I’m stuck announcing
my intentions and begging participation.

So here’s my own contribution, since I’m always happy to supply a data point or two, and the prospect of the blogger panel at the MLA fills my heart with joy. Please consider doing the same if you’ve got a blog and would like to help with the project.

And speaking of the MLA convention: it’s right here in Philadelphia, which means I don’t have to pay for a hotel room, and there are people I want to reconnect with and panels I actually want to attend (the blogger one for sure, but also a bunch of poetry-related ones). So I’m going. Anyone else out there reading this who’s also planning on being there?

2 Responses to “Memetracking for science!”

  1. Clancy says:

    I’ll be there. That blogging panel is not to be missed. (I’m staying with friends in Philadelphia; if I didn’t have that hookup, I probably wouldn’t be going.)

  2. Amanda says:

    Yay! I’ll try to find you before or after — I should be able to recognize you by your blog photo. I wonder how many other people from the academoblogosphere will be there?