There are memes, and then there are Memes. Said another way: All memes are created equal, but some memes are more equal than others.
I am quite dismayed and disappointed that MemeStreams allowed an entire week to pass without forcing me to read and recommend the essay by Philip Kennicott that appeared in the May 5 edition of the Washington Post. This should not have been allowed to happen.
Between the time of publication and the time of this writing, I received several messages in my MemeBox, but none pointed to this essay. One of them was about a story in the Weekly World News. Another, which I ignored, appeared to be some kind of conspiracy theory involving the Mossad. A third item directed my attention to academically interesting but ultimately insignificant research results in the field of cryptanalysis.
An analogous situation is known in computer science as a priority inversion. It is an undesirable condition, but steps can be taken to design it out of the system. At this point I am forced to consider whether MemeStreams has taken sufficient measures to minimize the occurrence of priority inversion.
In part, the reputation agent is designed to solve this problem. By selecting and sorting available memes based on weighted adjacencies in the social network, the cream is supposed to rise to the top.
For many users, memes pass through the reputation agent in particular much as ideas flow through the news media in general: here today, gone tomorrow. While this approach generally suffices for the run of the mill meme, it is woefully inadequate for that most rare, truly exemplary meme. A remedy must be devised.
I have a proposal. It consists of one idea in two parts: gold stars and sticky bits. Allow me to explain.
Each year, on the anniversary of your blog, you are issued a one year supply of gold stars to use as you see fit. A year's supply is on the order of eight to ten gold stars. Use them with care, because they must last you through the entire year. When you see a truly outstanding must-read-NOW meme that is simply not to be missed under any circumstances, even if it means running around a one-stoplight town at 2 a.m. with a PowerBook and a WiFinder, attach one of your gold stars to this article. Don't jump the gun, because once you attach the star, it cannot be revoked, it cannot be reused, and it will be present for all to see, for all time.
The reputation agent knows about gold stars and takes notice when they appear. This is where the sticky bits come in. Starred memes are moved to the top of the stack, are unmistakably highlighted, with the normal white text on a blue background replaced by larger, bold white text on a red background. Regardless of the "TimeFrame" setting, these memes stay at the top of the stack until one of two actions is taken by the user. a) The user posts the meme to his/her weblog. b) The user explicitly dismisses the meme by clicking on a special purpose link at the bottom of the entry, next to the links for Thread, Recommend, and Reply. Like the Delete function, the Dismiss function prompts the user for confirmation, again presenting the description(s) provided by the user(s) who have attached (a) gold star(s) to the meme.
At the expense of a slight increase in complexity, this mechanism could be protected against abuse by new users. For example, gold stars could be held in escrow and rationed out to new users, at a maximum of one per month.
It is hoped that with gold stars and sticky bits, we can dramatically reduce the occurrence of missed excellence within the MemeStreams community.