Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

BiPHuFo: a new meme

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People use memes for something, unaware of what memes are. Is cultural evolution in danger?

I was searching for information about emojis to understand if I could consider them memes. According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, memes are

“units of information that we must learn if culture is to continue.” (in Creativity, Harper Collins, 1996)

But, to my surprise, I found the following definition: MEME: A static image with a HUGE FONT.” What!?! The image below is an example.

What can I learn from this unit of information if culture is to continue? Nothing.

These images are NOT memes. These are Big-Pictures-with-Huge-Fonts. Therefore, I propose we call them Biphufos. Listen below how you say it.

biphufo.m4a

In cultural evolution, any new ideas are passed on to future generations if each child learns them. Otherwise, these ideas fall into oblivion and produce no cultural evolution. But when we change the meaning of words, like calling meme to what is clearly a biphufo, I fear we’re putting cultural evolution in danger.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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