Wikipedia, Memes and HitTailing

ML Jun 20, 2006

So, I’m reading a bit more about memes in Wikipedia. It gives plenty of food for thought about HitTailing, memes AND Wikipedia.

First of all, Wikipedia is just awesome for this type of entry. Can you even imagine researching meme’s a few years ago? You would have been lucky if Google searches would have produced Richard Dawkins name for you. And before Internet search, forget it. You would have needed a research librarian. And it would probably never even make it into Encyclopedia Britannica. I can only imagine how much easier (and controversial) doing reports in school must be. I would have liked to have been in that field when references from Internet sources when from being unacceptable in a bibliography to acceptable. I would like to see any academician put down Wikipedia’s informative and several-page-long entry on memes.

Second, what we’re doing with this site and HitTailing is definitely programming a meme. That was a big reason for the name change. We’re quickly trying to program a new meme that can carry farther and is more suitable for survival than HitTail. We often talk about something having to be viral to be very successful these days, because word-of-mouth is a highly efficient, low cost, and trusted method of disseminating information. When momentum starts to pick up, the snowball effect occurs, because more mass causes more acceleration, causes more mass. In the most modest cases, you’ve got a silly video passed around the world. In the most extreme cases, you’ve got a new mega-brand like Google.

HitTailing hopefully lands somewhere in-between. The difficult concepts make it difficult to propagate the idea. But HitTailing is part of a memeplex, consisting of Chris Anderson’s long tail idea. And the long tail will probably become part of the world business psyche over the next few years, the way Gladwell’s Tipping Point has, or Andrew Grove’s “strategic inflection point” almost had. Built into HitTailing is a compellingly clear and simple value proposition, enough so that transmission of the meme can occur.

Memes are also connected to the concept of fads and trends in marketing, which have totally different long-term business plans. Fads turn fast. Trends build to last, and can have deep, lasting impact on culture. Memes give both fads and trends a little push in the right direction–a repeatable behavior that predisposes the population for incrementally larger changes to come. We are in the very earliest stages of HitTailing. But this simple change in behavior is akin to the birth of the public relations industry in its day.

Some folks already thought this happened with search engine spamming. Others thought it happened with search engine promotion, search engine visibility, press release optimization, or whatever else you want to call the other endeavors–which in my opinion, only amount to dipping your toe in the water.

It is with HitTailing that direct-to-everyone online public relations takes the plunge into the deep end. Forget direct-to-consumer. By definition, if it’s gone into a newswire these days, it’s gone directly to the consumer. And every person and every machine in between is just a different type of filter. And the end-person, be they journalist, consumer, decision-maker, informed reader, or all of the above simply chooses which filtering mechanism they’re going to use.

But these filters only affect the “daily read”. Filtering is effectively short-circuited once the person wants to know more, and turns to search. When this happens, only the filtering that matters is natural search ranking in the most popular search engines. And the HitTailing meme says that you must cast as large and tightly knit net possible to capture these proactively searching individuals. And the way to enlarge your net, and tighten the mesh is HitTailing, plain and simple.

One response
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    Adam Edwards

    I never thought I would see one of the books I discussed in my philosophy class, Consciousness Explained, show up in something related to business. Dennett, the author, is mentioned quite prominently in the article about memes. I’ll have to go digg it up.

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