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Over time, the phenomenon of idea-dissemination has taken various forms and has adapted itself to different socio-cultural settings (in many cases eventually changing these settings themselves). Suffice it to say that the successful dissemination of ideas, measured by their acceptance by the largest possible audiences, has not always been related to the inner worth of the ideas themselves in terms of their political, scientific, economic or social worth. Valid ideas and values are often lost in the shuffle, while mediocre, or even harmful ones, are sometimes accepted by large numbers.

Ideas do not exist in isolation. Their power can manifest itself only in relation to the environment in which they are spread. The name of the festival is taken from the theories of memetics pioneered in the 70s and later taken up by cultural theorists such as Douglas Rushkoff in his book Media Virus.


According to Memetics theory, a meme is a: "contagious idea that replicates like a virus, passed on from mind to mind. Memes function the same way genes and viruses do, propagating through communication networks and face-to-face contact between people."

In the 70's, Richard Dawkins issued a book The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins,1976) popularising a new theory which addressed the phenomenon of changing cultural patterns. Based on Darwin's theory of evolution through selection, Memetics accords genetic properties such as replication to certain types of information called 'memes'. According to Dawkins, memes are: 'behavioural instructions stored in brain (or other carrier) that are transmitted by imitation (Blackmore, 1999, pg. 43). Because the individual who mediates the Meme to another host keeps hosting her own Meme, the transmission of a Meme is in fact its replication (Blackmore, 1999, pg. 47).

It  is in the nature of Memes to 'infect' as many people as possible

Theorists of Memetics (Dawkins, Blackmore and other) propose that memes are autonomous as they travel (and take root) from one individual to another but these same theorists also allow the possibility of deliberately creating and spreading Memes.

The quality of a Meme is determined by the process of its selection that takes part on every level of transmission. The spreading of Memes can sometimes be obstructed. A Meme in the wrong place at the wrong time will not be able to spread for it has to be accepted by individuals - its hosts. Whether naturally occurring or deliberately created, once a Meme 'infects' a certain number of hosts, it becomes autonomous and spreads of its own power.

From the point of view of Memetics theory, the mass media is presently the most sophisticated engine for the dissemination of Memes since it exposes potential carriers to an incredible volume of memes daily.

In an information society, modern battles are fought less with weapons and more with ideas. Since Memes can influence behaviour and change culture, they are the new weapons which are used to establish and dethrone ideologies.



Although Memefest takes its name from the concept of Memetics, our Philosophical background is not limited to it. The reason why we felt the concept of meme is interesting for our purpose is it's usefulness. A meme is something that can be extracted from us and looked at as a independent entity. It's not necessarily a part of us if we are able to critically reflect on memes that are spread through media and communication. This distance towards ideas/concepts and behavioural patterns can be highly productive and is a condition for involved engagement in to communication practices within our everyday lives.