Saturday, October 04, 2008

Say Anything

I don't know if I have emphasized this enough, but, in the spreading of a meme, familiarity and recognizability are vital traits. Lauren thought she saw something familiar as Palin debated:

Palin spit out a lot of facts and made a whole lot more sense than ever
before, but as I listened to her answers, I got the distinct impression that
was making a mental check-list of things to say and trying to work them
into the
questions. This reminds me of many many college exams I took, where
I would
decide there wasn't enough time to actually learn the information,
but if I
memorized a few BIG facts, I could somehow make them work for any
question. Was anyone out there keeping track of how many times Palin
why she wouldn't be answering the question and then went on to say
whatever she
felt like? This actually really bothered me. While Biden did
some of the same, I
got the feeling that he was explaining information he
understood, even if he got
a little off-topic, while Palin was simply
regurgitating, regardless of whether
or not it was related


I happen to be of kind of addicted to The New York Times letters. Guess
what? Lauren's not the only one:

As someone who teaches history, I often give essay exams, and inevitably there
are students who arrive ill prepared to take the exam. These students typically
adopt one of two strategies: they either construct an essay that is a torrent of
words, hoping that by filling up the space I will not notice that they don’t
know anything (Sarah Palin’s performance in the Katie Couric interviews); or
they ignore the question I’ve asked, and answer something else they do know a
little about (Ms. Palin’s performance in the vice-presidential debate).
strategies earn an F, since neither indicates that they can tackle a crucial
issue in the course.
Many of us watching the vice-presidential debate wanted
to know how well Governor Palin could tackle a crucial issue facing the nation.
Mr. Brooks informs us that Republicans were relieved that Sarah Palin adopted
what amounts to Strategy No. 2 in the debate, and therefore avoided seeming as
clueless as she did in the Couric interviews, but let me assure him (and them)
that it was no more helpful in establishing her ability to be an effective vice
president than Strategy No. 1.
Barbara Weinstein

See, when things are very recognizable, they have a better chance of spreading as memes.

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