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Gossip: The new meme

“When did we start calling gossip ‘memes’?” TEDPrize director Amy Novogratz asked today, as we discussed our favorite rumor — I mean “meme” — from TED2006: It seems, many people (including some media outlets) mistakenly believed that David Bowie had joined us in Monterey. He’d be welcome, of course, but he wasn’t there. (Nor was he expected.) We concluded that the meme began when “Life on Mars” was played as walk-out music.

Another TED-generated meme: When Chris announced that he and Amy had traveled to Ethiopia, and engaged with local communities as part of their TEDPrize research, some misinterpreted that to mean Chris and Amy were engaged to each other. (Let’s just say simply and with dignity that they are not.) “That isn’t a meme, that’s gossip!” Amy said.

And that’s the final word. If it’s about you, it’s gossip. If it’s about someone else, it’s a meme.