Here is a little information about some of the people who have contributed to the theory of memes. Probably the most influential have been Richard Dawkins, who invented the term “meme” and Daniel Dennett who used the idea of memes in developing theories about consciousness and evolution. There are many influential people missing from this list and I shall add to it in due course (suggestions welcome).
Aunger, Robert is Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Public Health Hygiene Centre at the
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is author of The Electric Meme, and editor of Darwinizing Culture. He has conducted ethnographic research on meme transmission in central Africa.
Bryson, Joanna is a Reader in computer science at Bath University. Her research on artificial and natural intelligence includes imitation, language and memetics.
Dawkins, Richard is a zoologist, and the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He invented the term “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene (see my Don’s Delight in the Guardian) and gave a slightly different interpretation of it in The Extended Phenotype (1982). He refers to religions as “viruses of the mind”. His (unofficial but thorough and up to date) website includes a useful page on memetics.
Dennett, Daniel. is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, Medford, MA. and one of the best known of contemporary philosophers.
His 1991 book Consciousness Explained suggests that human consciousness is a huge complex of memes, a person is an ape infested with memes, and “A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library” (1991, p 202). His 1995 book Darwin’s Dangerous Idea explores the importance of replicator power, and the notion of the meme as replicator. He claims that “… a human mind is itself an artefact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes.” (1995, p 365).
Distin, Kate is author of The Selfish Meme.
Heylighen, Francis is a research professor at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), and an editor of the Principia Cybernetica Project. His main focus of research is the evolution of complexity but he has written many papers about memes, as well as on the emerging intelligent web, or “global brain“.
Holland, Owen is Professor at the University of Essex, where he is researching machine consciousness, and building anthropoid robots and robot swarms.
Jouxtel, Pascal works as a consultant on behavioural change and evolutionary approaches to complex problem solving. He is co-founder of the Société Francophone de Mémétique (2002) and author of Comment les systèmes pondent : Une introduction à la mémétique.
Marsden, Paul Paul (@marsattacks) works as a consumer psychologist to brands and advertisers. Using ideas in The Meme Machine, Paul co-founded Brainjuicer PLC (LON:BJU) – an online service for testing ads and optimising their ‘infectiousness’.
Speel, Hans-Cees is an IT professional working with Linux and Unix and lives in Nijmegen, in the Netherlands. He is (ex-managing) editor of JoM and has written papers on memes. He was the first to use the term “memeplex”.
Winfield, Alan is Professor of Electronic Engineering at the University of the West of England, Bristol. His research is on swarm intelligence, imitation in robots and the possibility of artificial culture.