Saturday, April 5, 2008

Memes, language, WoW and cheese

Blogger Lia of The Knitting Defective posted about being tagged to participate in a meme. This is a new use of the term to me, taking it from a viral transmission of some cultural element, to using the word to describe not even the individual meme itself. Maybe I'm just behind the times, but my Mister hadn't seen "meme" used this way before, either.

In the usage I'm familiar with one might say that
Rickrolling, lolcats, dramatic prairie dog, or this kind of blogger's game of tag are Internet memes, but you'd still say "Dude! I've been Rickrolled" rather than "I've been the victim of a meme!" But here the game of tag itself is being referred to as a meme in the latter sense.
This intrigued my geeky little brain, as it feels a little like watching the evolution of the language in progress.

I got the same geeky fascination watching the acronym "PST" evolve. I'm not sure if PST goes back farther than Everquest. But I'm using it as my example since that's where I became aware of it.

In Everquest, a private chat message to someone was called a "tell". So if you wanted someone to reply to you in response to a chat post, rather than say "please send me a tell," it was usually shortened to PST for "please send tell." Example, if you wanted to sell 20 bone chips for a platinum piece (a reasonable price back in my day) you might post a chat message to the zone saying: WTS bone chips x20 1p PST.

What has been interesting to me has been watching the abbreviation PST lose all of it's connection to its original source, while retaining it's understood meaning. In World of Warcraft, the private message is referred to as a "whisper". The abbreviation PST has carried over from other gamers with pre-warcraft experience, but WoW is bigger than EQ is or ever was by many magnitudes of huge. Many (most?) of the people using the abbreviation don't know the origin of the acronym. You now see people using it as though it was the sound "psst" for getting someone's attention quietly. This makes sense in the context of "whispering" to someone. So now, instead of ending a chat post simply with PST, you might see "please pst me". This always makes my eyes cross a little, because to me that says "please please send tell me." But in this context I'm vastly outnumbered. It still means "send me a private message," but has become a word rather than an abbreviation.

Anyway, back to the meme thing... The tag game/meme that Lia was referring to has the following rules:
  1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 or more pages.
  2. Open the book to page 123 and find the fifth sentence.
  3. Post the next three sentences.
  4. Tag 5 people and task them with doing the same.
Curious, even untagged as I was, I decided to give it a go, and here's what I found.

Nearest book with required number of pages: The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman and David Gibbons. Page 123 is a photograph, so I moved on to page 124.
For example, if you're looking for a pairing with Queso de la Garroxta, the rustic Catalonian goat's milk cheese, and you know from experience that it marries well with a Meursault, the superior white Burgundy, try it with another classic Chardonnay-based wine--an elegant, sparkling, dry Blanc de Blanc Champagne. By gradually branching out like this and exploring different pairings, you'll discover some unconventional but beautiful marriages. This is always a thrill.
I'm not going to tag anyone (I am not very good at following that kind of rule). But if you'd like to play along, grab your nearest book with 123 or more pages and post a comment.

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