Let's name the 'Internet meme knowledge gap' ... after me?

Because someone has to do it

Why not?

Two Buzzblog readers -- including one with an impressive historical standing in the matter -- have recommended that we do so, which by my reckoning constitutes a groundswell of grassroots support for the idea.

(Geek-themed Meme of the Week Archive)

The need for such a name was first identified -- by me, I might point out -- in this post about a Circuit City executive who lost her mind and ordered removed from store shelves all copies of Mad Magazine that featured a biting parody of the chain. Once the purge memo was made public, it was noted in one forum that The Streisand Effect was now in play; i.e. the observation that any attempt to minimize or suppress dissemination of unwelcome news in the Internet age is likely to backfire by creating its own far greater wave of public and press attention. (See "Massachusetts transit officials vs. MIT" for the most recent example.)

Amazingly, I had never having heard of The Streisand Effect -- "new one on me," I wrote. Moreover, I speculated that reader ridicule was sure to follow such an admission and asked if there was a word for not knowing one of these Internet memes, as there certainly should be because these days they sprout up like Internet memes.

"In answer to your question at the end of your Aug. 11 column, 'NetBuzz Syndrome' suggests itself," writes Kirk Leggott, IT director at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa. (NetBuzz being the longtime name of my Network World print-edition column, where the Circuit City item also appeared.)

Cute suggestion, I thought ... briefly. But little did I know that Leggott's missive was signaling the start of a deluge that would soon generate a second e-mail, this one from a genuine Internet meme celebrity.

Mike Masnick is president and CEO of Techdirt, and, of far greater importance here, the man who brought us the Internet meme that spawned this discussion. Masnick offers his own naming suggestion and explains how these things typically work:

Hey Paul,

As the guy who actually coined the term "The Streisand Effect," trust me when I say I'm as surprised as you that the term caught on. I came up with it as a joke, but it seems to have resonated. It's really only gotten "Internet famous" in the last year or so, thanks to articles in Forbes, AP and even a clip on NPR's All Things Considered.

But, if you need a name for not knowing about a meme, I'd suggest attaching your own name to it, like Godwin's Law. So, perhaps it's "Pulling a McNamara" for someone who doesn't know the latest silly Internet meme. :) I like it.


It does have a ring.

But being unable to choose between "NetBuzz Syndrome" and "Pulling a McNamara," I am going to combine the best of both and go with "The McNamara Syndrome" to describe the meme-challenged among us from this point forward.

I will, of course, need your help to make this vision a reality.

We will need citable usages of various sorts, for example: Say someone at one of those presidential campaign "Town Hall" dog-and-pony shows asks Sen. John McCain about drilling off the Florida coast and frets that Cuba is about to "drink our milkshake." And McCain responds: "They can have all the milkshakes they want as long as they don't siphon off any of our oil." An Obama spokesman, shaking his head in that mocking manner unique to politics, will lament the comment as "more evidence of McCain suffering from The McNamara Syndrome."

At first, such a comment will puzzle reporters and have the better among them scurrying for their medical dictionaries, which will, of course, prove useless.

But, as with all Internet memes, repetition -- endless, mind-numbing, fingernails-on-the-chalkboard repetition -- will do its work.

Yes, The McNamara Syndrome it shall be. ... Someone will need to get to work on the Wikipedia page.

(Note to regulars: I will be on vacation until Tuesday, Sept. 2. Expect few if any posts.)

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