How this site came about

Most of the material on this site was created by Martin Farncombe, who has been studying memes for three decades: his interest was first piqued as to why national cultures differed as well as how they differed. He once described how the website came about:

I love to dive, and in 2008 I went to Hawaii to explore its underwater landscape. On the way, I caught a mild cold that blocked my sinuses and pretty much put a stop to my diving holiday, and I took to motoring round the island cursing viruses in general and this one in particular, and musing on the shoddiness of our immune systems. One fine afternoon I drove past a church with one of those pegboard signs outside on which the pastor can rearrange letters to create an uplifting message.


The beginning of defeat? But that’s pretty much the opposite of what I believe. Was this an exhortation to the local football team, or a message to the faithful? And then it hit me - - this was an immune system, a way of fighting off potentially dangerous ideas - - and in that moment it all fell into place".

Since then, many people have knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the book and later this site, and I acknowledge my debt to Chuck Snodgrass, Professor Nelson Phillips, Randy Shafer, Professor Sam Savage and George A. Romero. Special thanks are due to my editor (Anne Abel Smith), and to my long-suffering wife, Judy. I am also standing heavily on the shoulders of Aristotle, Fons Trompenaars, Geert Hofstede and their co-authors, and I admit that stole the wedding ring joke from Marcus Brigstocke.

I am also indebted to my valiant review team, who all helped make this into a very different (and far better) work: Jacek Filbrandt, Tim Maude, Tomi Davies, Ian Beesley, Jim O'Connell, Charles Parry, Nick Wright, Mike Kear, Matt Ing, Bob Thompson, Colin Knapman, Claudiu Murgan and Kevin Jones. Welcome criticism was also provided by Firoz Shroff, John Arnott, Andrew Waller and Roger Camrass.

Special thanks go to those who generously donated their time to talk about their ideas with me: to Professor Paul Brown and Dr Carlos Herrera for neurobiological assistance, and to Professors Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and particularly Sue Blackmore for challenging and repeatedly reinfecting me. If it hadn't been for Sue's memelabs, this site would not exist.

Why a site? Along the way I realised that the book, as a medium for carrying memes, is dead even if it hasn’t stopped twitching. However, I was getting a lot of interest in my work, and so Practical Memetics was created as a way of transmitting these memes and as a home for others who want to write on this topic.

Finally, this website is dedicated to the memory of Francis Keene Farncombe, Charles Bernard Greenberg and Sam Greenberg: in a million small ways, they live on.