The phenomenon of contagious ideas has been probed quite thoroughly and approached from many different perspectives. What makes one idea catch on? What dooms others into oblivion? There are at least several answers.

One thing that’s often disregarded, though, is the carrier of an idea. Who is the carrier and what role do they play in the entire process?

Check out: The Other Factor that Makes an Idea Spread






  • memetics – The study of memes.
  • contagion – the ready transmission or spread as of an idea or emotion from person to person
  • undervalue – to value below the real worth; put too low a value on
  • vernacular – the plain variety of language in everyday use by ordinary people
  • impeccable – faultless; flawless
  • palatable – acceptable or agreeable
  • proxy – substitute, agent


Think about it

Answer the questions below.

  • What is the carrier’s role in relation to the audience as far as spreading an idea is concerned?
  • What is the difference between the carrier and the inventor on an idea?
  • What are some well-known examples of carriers of ideas? What ideas have they popularised?
  • What does “[t]hat” in the following sentence refer to? “That’s not great for the actual originator of the idea, but it is great for the idea itself. “
  • Why are people who question the originality of an idea carrier missing the point?


Practice makes perfect

 Fill in the blank spaces with the missing words. Use ONE word per blank space.

An important distinction: the carrier is the person ________ brings the idea into the common vernacular, although ________ may not actually be the ________ who discovered or researched the idea.  They may be impeccable storytellers, thinkers, or writers. They make fresh connections and present cogent arguments. They are critical in getting ideas to ________ hold.


Replace the fragments in bold with the phrases used in the original article.

  • The people who dismiss the work of idea carriers as “nothing new” fail to understand its importance.
  • They may be fantastic storytellers, thinkers, or writers.
  • Some well-known examples of carriers of ideas would include Daniel Goleman, who promoted the idea of emotional intelligence in 1995 [. . .]
  • And yet the role of content seems to be in the centre of attention.
  • There are many examples of ideas that have become popular not because they were new or novel [. . .]


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