On Tracking Memes in the Meme Pool

Given what memes are, and how they work

How might we more accurately track memes?



One reason to ask this question is: If a screenwriter/film storyteller is aware of the most popular/successful/viral memes, it can (potentially) inform their choice of memes to include in their film story. (However, ironically, trends being what they are, some memes also are time-sensitive – and become unfashionable quickly. i.e. “So 5 minutes ago.”)

However Transmedia Guru Gary Hayes has created an excellent way of estimating the amount of media content both produced and consumed:

Garys Social Media Count

Gary’s Social Media Count (Source: http://www.personalizemedia.com/garys-social-media-count/)

So – with specific regard to social media and Feature Films for example, we could look at (say):

Google Zeitgeist 2012 (Feature Films): http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#the-world/feature-films

Facebook 2012 Trends – Movies: http://www.facebookstories.com/stories/3866/movies

Or – looking at real-time general box-office trends:

The-Numbers.com: http://www.the-numbers.com/

Box Office Mojo: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/

But – the key problem remains, screenwriters/filmmakers need to be able to (theoretically) predict the zeitgeist 2 to 3 years ahead. (As that’s how long a feature film often takes from concept to screen, and often, can take much longer, e.g. up to 20 years in some cases.)

Or – in terms of monitoring `General News / Memes / Zeitgeist’, sources include: 

Google’s Hot Trends: http://www.google.com.au/trends/hottrends

Facebook Trends: http://www.facebookstories.com/

YouTube Trendshttp://www.youtube.com/Trends

The YouTube Trends Blog: http://youtube-trends.blogspot.com/

Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/whatshot (most popular pages on the web every 5 mins… according to the Alexa Toolbar)

The Year on Twitter – 2012https://2012.twitter.com/

Twitter 2012 – Most Tweeted/Retweeted: https://2012.twitter.com/en/pulse-of-the-planet.html

`Word-of-mouth’ (how feature films go viral) is currently impossible to track accurately – until we all wear cameras and mic’s (with speech recognition and analysis software), which all sounds very `Orwellian/1984/Big Brother’ and therefore: unlikely – it is likely the zeitgeist with regard to the most widespread memes will remain difficult to accurately track. Word-of-mouth is the most important driver of memes, yet still the most elusive and ephemeral to track in real time.

Confused Crowd

In the meantime, digital data tracking (via social media, and data resulting from search tools such as the above) is as close as we can come, to tracking the general spread of viral memes (`hot’ ideas, concepts) in the culture.

Therefore, the ultimate barometer of whether a theatrical feature film went `viral’ of course, is still its ROI.

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

The Top 20 Audience Reach/Budget Films of the Last 70 Years. Data Source: The-Numbers.com. Analysis: JT Velikovsky

Part of the trick is understanding the units of culture, so we can track them. This is also helpful in the Digital Humanities.

For the structure of the unit of culture, see this book chapter:

StoryAlity #132The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture (and narreme, or unit of story)

  • Thoughts, feedback, comments?


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.’ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.

Alexa: http://www.alexa.com/whatshot

Box Office Mojo: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/

Facebook 2012 Trends – Movies: http://www.facebookstories.com/stories/3866/movies

Gary’s Social Media Counthttp://www.personalizemedia.com/garys-social-media-count/

Google’s Hot Trends: http://www.google.com.au/trends/hottrends

Google Zeitgeist 2012 (Feature Films): http://www.google.com/zeitgeist/2012/#the-world/feature-films

The-Numbers.com: http://www.the-numbers.com/

The Year on Twitter – 2012https://2012.twitter.com/

Twitter 2012 – Most Tweeted/Retweeted: https://2012.twitter.com/en/pulse-of-the-planet.html

YouTube Trendshttp://www.youtube.com/Trends

YouTube Trends Blog: http://youtube-trends.blogspot.com/

5 thoughts on “StoryAlity #45B – On Tracking Memes in The Meme Pool

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #47B – More on Memes and Film (and: 3 solved problems in Memetics) | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity #100 – The Holonic Structure of the Meme – the unit of culture | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity #109 – Memetics and Film | StoryAlity

  4. Pingback: StoryAlity #115 – The “Less-Than-One-Percent” Problem in the Domain of Movies | StoryAlity

  5. Pingback: StoryAlity #109 – Memetics and Film | StoryAlity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.