What is a GoMeme?
A GoMeme is a specially modified piece of content that spreads virally along social relationships in a manner that benefits every site that helps it spread. Any piece of content can be transformed into a GoMeme. It's a piece of content, or a meme, that is specially modified to spread virally along social networks.
A GoMeme adds some special information to the end of any piece of content. This information (called a "Path List") shows the sequence of sites that a piece of content has traveled through to reach the site it appears on. Everyone who posts the content adds their site to the Path List at the end. So as the content is syndicated from site to site the Path List grows, and each site in the path thus includes links back to every site before them in the path. As well as being useful and interesting, the Path List has the added benefit of increasing the visibility and search engine rankings of sites in the Path List -- because as more sites link to a site about a topic, that site is considered more relevant on that topic by search engine ranking algorithms.
A GoMeme functions as a "trackback multiplier" -- It makes your site part of the path for a piece of content, wherever it goes after your site. This gets you trackbacks not just from the sites that get the posting directly from you, but also from the parties who then get it from them, and so on.
It could be thought of as a mind-virus that can be attached to any piece of content. It makes the content spread more contagiously, by benefitting those blogs that help it spread further. And in turn, this benefits your blog by getting you more visibility for your blog in proportion to the number of blogs that get a piece of content from you -- which is your reward for finding and promoting the GoMeme. Everybody wins.
There are several reasons behind the GoMeme concept which shed some light on why this is more than just a simple "chain letter." First of all, whenever a site links to an article they find on the Web, they are essentially helping to then promote that article to others. The use of the Path List at the end of the GoMeme enables every site that helps to market the article to then get some of the benefit of the article's spread. The benefit comes back to them in the form of links to them from other sites that contain the article. This has the effect of increasing their Google rank for the terms in the article (as well as other terms in the sites that host the article).
In the future every piece of content might be a GoMeme, and in that case, GoMemes would primarily spread only via sites that were genuinely relevant to their content (because if everything was a GoMeme, sites would have to choose which ones to post -- it would no longer be a novelty, they would post them according to same criteria by which they post any article). Thus, the GoMeme would have the effect of spreading mainly to relevant sites, and thus the links back to the referrers in the Path List would be relevant links. The benefit of this would be that sites that find the GoMeme early and/or sites that spread it the most would get higher numbers of links back to them. This would effectively help to improve their rankings in search engines in proportion to their "timeliness" in finding "hot" articles early, and their "influence" in spreading them to other relevant sites. So sites that find things early, or spread things the most, would start to rise in the ranks. This makes intuitive sense -- these sites are more expert than others. This would enable sites that find things early and spread them widely to get preferential rankings in search engine results on relevant topics, which is what should happen.
This method also provides more useful information to search engines. Google's PageRank algorithm attempts to estimate the value of each site based on the number of other sites that point to that site and their estimated value; but it fails due to the fact that Path Lists do not exist for most articles on the Web. As a result, as articles spread from site to site parties tend to either just cite the site they got them from, or to not cite anyone at all. This means that search engines cannot see how an article spread with very much resolution, if at all. One reason is that search engine indexing is not frequent enough. Another reason is that no matter how frequent it is, a search engine cannot infer what site a given site found an article from , unless there is a citation attached. The GoMeme method provides an incentive for sites to forward the Path List for an article onwards -- by doing so, sites can get credit for their roles in helping to distribute articles.
The GoMeme method is reminiscent of Hebbian Learning -- a method for learning in neural networks that strengthens connections between neurons that interact. In this case the neurons are weblogs. The connections are strengenthed indirectly because by giving webmasters the ability to see the list of sites they get things from, and the list of sites that get things from them, beyond just 1 hop, they can then find new sites that are relevant to their interests to read and subscribe to. This has the effect of transforming indirect connections to direct connections. Sites that get things indirectly, can subscribe to get things directly. Sites can also subscribe to sites that get things from them. This improves the flow of information by enabling it to flow more directly among relevant sites.
What is the GUID for?
By adding an optional "global unique identifier" to the end of your entry, you can later search for all blogs that got the GoMeme from you. Your GUID can be anything, but it should be short, and should not presently return any search results on Google (and hopefully will stay unique for a long time).
Why are We Doing This?
We think this is a fundamental new tool for bloggers and other content publishers on the Web. We're doing because it's an interesting experiment in memetics. It's also beneficial -- because by participating we help drive traffic and visibility to the blogs that we found this GoMeme from, and in turn, blogs downstream from us will then help us. It's a social-network way of saying "thank you" to the other bloggers downstream from us. This GoMeme is the latest evolution of an ongoing experiment from Minding the Planet. It's just for fun, and we're curious to see what happens. Join us by following the instructions in the GoMeme and helping to spread the GoMeme to your social network!
How To Participate
You can also comment on this posting and view trackbacks to see how this GoMeme is spreading and to discuss this experiement with other hosts participating in this GoMeme.