Friday, August 13, 2004

GoMemes as Extended Hat-tips

I've been following Nova Spivak's posts explaining GoMemes and their potential benefits. It's interesting stuff, for sure, but perhaps not quite as revolutionary as you might think.

There already exists a natural precursor to GoMemes within the blogging culture: the practice of hat-tipping. Suppose you find an interesting article from reading Joe's blog. If you then link to that same article, you might acknowledge Joe as your source, by appending something like "Hat-tip: Joe" or "(via Joe's bloggs)" to your post. [But with real links, of course.]

The only significant difference with GoMemes is that they (ideally) include a full path-list of all previous sources. That is, you don't just link to Joe, but also whoever Joe found the link from, and so forth. To achieve this functionality, Spivak's experimental memes required tedious instructions (see this example) to be appended to the meme-post.

This is the unavoidable result of introducing new practices - people don't know how to perform them unless instructed. But such tedium could perhaps be avoided if, rather than portraying GoMemes as a completely new idea, we instead expanded upon an existing practice: namely, hat-tipping.

The process of extended hat-tipping is conceptually very simple. If the post you wish to acknowledge offers no acknowledgements itself, then you simply hat-tip it as usual. However, if it does offer another source, then you instead copy that source-list and append a link to the current site to the end. For example, if Joe's post says "via Bob", then in my post I would write something like "via Bob to Joe". And so on.

The crucial point is that although I've explained the process here in some detail, it would not be necessary to do so in practice. Once the custom caught on, and bloggers saw each other offering extended hat-tips in this fashion, others would pick up the practice quite naturally: imitating it without any need for formal instructions. It would just become a part of blogging 'culture'. And that, for the sorts of reasons Spivak explicates, could prove beneficial to us all.

Update: For some explicit go-memes, see my personality and politics survey, Academic Blog Survey, and the Metapolitics Go-meme.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful invention it is, this thing we call the Internet!


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