≡ Menu

Creating a Meme

Last night I gave a talk at the inaugural Ottawa CaseCamp on blogging and the impact it can have on your business.  Meme creation is one of the biggies, which I didn’t dwell on, but deserves some amplification.

Wikipedia defines a meme as a “unit of cultural information transferable from one mind to another”.  By definition, the world of blogs is the world of meme creation, and propogation.  Whether marketers, political pundits, analysts, sports commentators, or politicians, that’s one of the reasons we write blogs.

It’s been a little over a year since I set out to create a new meme to talk about the telecommunications industry.  I called it Voice 2.0, and without going into a lot of detail about what Voice 2.0 is (there’s plenty to read on that), I want to tell you a little about the success of that meme.

I wrote the Voice 2.0 Manifesto on a train from Toronto to Ottawa.  It was the product of a bunch of ideas about how to overcome roadblocks that had the potential to prevent iotum from being successful in the industry.  They had been percolating in my head for weeks, and now I wanted to get them out and into writing.  When I returned, I posted them on the iotum Simply Relevant blog, cross posted them on the Saunders Log and then sent email to a few of my blogging friends inviting them to talk about these ideas.

There were some excellent blog postings and discussion over the next month, including some fairly pointed remarks from my friend Jeff Pulver, who felt that Voice 2.0 was really nothing more than his concept of Purple Minutes in different packaging.  Nevertheless, following hot on the heels of Tim O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 piece a month earlier, the “2.0” meme had currency, and stuck. 

Over the coming months we saw Yahoo’s Brad Garlinghouse use the term Voice 2.0 in a speech at IT Expo.  Rich Tehrani’s team at TMCNet appropriated the term, and rebranded the old ITEXPO as  VoIP 2.0.  Discussion of the Voice 2.0 concepts continued at ETel in February of 2006 as well. 

In May of this past year Ross Macleod approached me, following the inaugural Ottawa Barcamp, and suggested a conference on Voice 2.0.  Why not?  And so, a one day think-tank event was born, further cementing the Voice 2.0 ideas, with speakers ranging across the industry from Nortel’s Peter Carbone to Telepocalypse’ Martin Geddes.

In addition, throughout the entire period of the last year, bloggers of all stripes, ranging from the smallest to giants like Om Malik have continued to talk about Voice 2.0.

And what has been the result?  Well, arguably, Voice 2.0 which advocates an internet and web services approach to the future of telecom, is in opposition to the incumbent industry’s IMS architecture.  Or, perhaps they can work in conjunction, who knows?  What’s worth noting, however, is that 12 months after the introduction of these ideas, they have almost the same currency as IMS, as measured by Google hits.

For my talk at CaseCon last night I ran two Google searches.  The first was a search on the terms IMS and Telecom together.  Here is the result:

The second was a search on the term “Voice 2.0”, and here is that result:


In 12 months time, we’ve managed to insert an idea, which now has apparently a ton of currency, into a very old industry.  We haven’t relied on large marketing budgets, or heavy lifting PR campaigns.  Instead, using just blogs and conversation, we set out to cause a change that would produce an environment that would be more conducive to our success, and the success of hosts of other companies like ours. 

And that, my friends, is why blogging is powerful.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Stuart Henshall November 7, 2006, 8:42 pm


  • Gokul November 17, 2006, 7:52 am

    Hi Alec,

    I wrote a couple of blogs on Performance Tuning and there were kind of long. Some of my usual readers actually complained that they don't want to read long blogs. Is that a common complaint? Is there an unsaid rule about size of a blog? Btw the blogs in question are at http://tggokul.wordpress.com/2006/11/16/performan… and Performance Tuning. The Beginning – Part I.

    In my defense, I could not split it up, lest it loses continuity.


  • Alec November 17, 2006, 5:07 pm

    Hey Gokul, I don't think that was too long at all. Don't know if there is a "rule" but I thought your pieces were fine.

  • Anonymous Fox March 21, 2009, 3:16 am

    I know this is WAY late in the game to post this here, but does anyone have ANY idea on how to create the perfect meme?



Leave a Comment