He said, She Said Meme

April 24th, 2007
Blogging Essays, Business of Blogging

I love bloggers, they are very good people. But even the most kind hearted and best intentioned bloggers sometimes either misinterpret or misread information and the piece ends up very different from where it started its life. This somewhat macabre movement of information from one person to other with slight mutilations is very interesting to me. All of us have studied or read about it in one form or fashion.

Now here is the idea for the meme: Read through the following news paragraph and recreate a post on your blog from memory if you will. Encourage your readers to do the same with a link back to your post.

Now, imagine throwing video into that mix. By the time I got the headphones on and the video downloaded, I’d be on to designing some new feature (or, more likely, answering more email). I’d only get to hear three words at a time, which just doesn’t seem very satisfying. I can sometimes have podcasts on the in the background, and those are easy to download and listen to at the gym. (I have a working shuffle! I can once again listen to things while I work out! And I can still do email at the same time.) But videos? I realize this is my own personal shortcoming, my short attention span that accelerates my multitasking tendencies, but why can’t all videos come with transcripts, like closed captioning for those of us with attention deficits? (I realize also this wouldn’t work so well with videos of cute jumping cats.)

I would love to read the third (or fourth and so on) reiteration of this paragraph.

Notwithstanding the results of this experiment, these human failings are just the reason us bloggers (and any media outlet for that matter) should pay very close attention to the originator of a thought or discussion and read the language and details quite closely before jumping to conclusions. We should be even more careful in reiterating these thoughts in our own words and make sure we link to the originator so their viewpoint is preserved and readers have the option of checking with them.

When the news or topic is hot, it is easy to fall into the trap of jumping on the bandwagon (first to market is a slippery slope, remember webvan?) but I think we owe it to ourselves and our readers to look closely.




  1. Chris Wondra (1 comments.) says:

    Great thought Mark.

    As sort of a renegade teacher, I’m often asking my students to take an idea and “run” with it. Analyse it. Interpret it. Review it. Add to it.

    Your post reminds me that getting digital content “right” is a bit more complicated. With digital content, we have a responsibility to think even deeper and search for the originator–a challenging task for anyone, not to mention an eighth grader.

    Interesting experiment, Mark. And a great illustration.


  2. Buck (1 comments.) says:

    Wow – a game of Internet Telephone! Haven’t played that since I was …. what… 9?

  3. Eric (1 comments.) says:

    I took the bait Mark. I’ve posted my attempt: What He Said Wasn’t What She Said.

    Excellent idea. I, too, and interested in seeing how this plays out.

  4. azrin (1 comments.) says: have not been tagged by my Evil Travel Memes yet eh?

    azrin @

    7 people to tag.


  1. […] you written your post? Good. Now go a visit Mark’s post with the original paragraph and see how in just two generations the information has […]

  2. […] you written your post? Good. Now go and visit Mark’s post with the original paragraph and see how in just two generations the information has […]

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