The Walrus Bucket Internet Meme, Seriously - InformationWeek
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5/29/2007
04:59 PM
David  DeJean
David DeJean
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The Walrus Bucket Internet Meme, Seriously

The Internet has become so important to society that its role in the transmission of memes may be the crucial fact of our age. Therefore it is absolutely vital to one's position in the social order to understand and be current with Internet memes. Don't you think? Which is why you should pay a great deal of very careful attention to the Walrus Bucket Saga. Because if you don't know about it, you'll be ou

The Internet has become so important to society that its role in the transmission of memes may be the crucial fact of our age. Therefore it is absolutely vital to one's position in the social order to understand and be current with Internet memes. Don't you think? Which is why you should pay a great deal of very careful attention to the Walrus Bucket Saga. Because if you don't know about it, you'll be out of it.A "meme" is defined as a unit of cultural information, an idea or a cultural practice, that is transmitted by repletion from one mind to another, analogous to the transmission of genes. The word was coined by Richard Dawkins, a British biologist, and first used in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, which suggested that memes parasitise people into propagating them much as viruses do. This does a great deal to explain how I caught the Walrus Bucket Saga from a young woman in a bar last weekend in Louisville, KY, and brought it back with me to Boston, and I am now spreading it to others -- including, of course, you.

There is, of course, nothing to explain about the The Walrus Bucket Saga. You either get it or you don't, and either way it's as ridiculous as other cultural memes like dancing computer-graphics babies and the substitution of "ph" for "f" in the brand names of clothing sold to well-to-do white children trying to convince themselves they are leading a poor black lifestyle.

We could discuss whether the bucket has Freudian significance or the walrus is a Jungian archetype. Or whether it's even a walrus at all. But that would all be a waste of time and energy. The Walrus Bucket Saga simply is.

In fact, What I found most interesting is the absolute snail's pace at which the Walrus Bucket Saga has made its trip to infecting my consciousness. The original photo and caption were apparently posted on Jan. 14 (in a blog called "I Can Has Cheezburger?. It didn't make Digg until March 29 and StumbleUpon.com until April 9. And I first heard of it shortly after 7 p.m. Friday, May 25. In this Internet age of instant communication that's like the equivalent of a couple of Ice Ages.

But that means you've still got a chance. The Walrus Bucket pictures have been gathered up on the The Walrus Bucket Saga Web site (which will make it much easier for the people who will someday do their Ph.D. theses on it) and you could be the person in your office who discovers the Walrus Bucket Saga. Think what that could do for your reputation!

(UPDATE 2007-05-31: the hamsterinthewheel.com Web site appears to have buckled under the strain of hosting the Walrus Bucket pictures, but you can still find many of them at Kontraband.com.)

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