A meme is, more or less, simply a unit of information – a quantum of cultural communication. This is information stored, compressed, perhaps encoded or encrypted in some way. This information is encoded in such a manner that it can be unpacked or decrypted in useful ways. This generation of meaning clearly already exists within language and the diverse semantics which may be extracted or translated from words, compound statements and narrative more generally – this is an unpacking or decrypting of complexity, of structured information into useful knowledge.
The encoding of a message in a way that meaning or useful communication can occur represents the storage of the potential energy that unpacking the complexity of the message would produce. Understanding message or information storage as delayed communication is instrumental. Genetic information storage effectively encrypts organic architectures across their double helix. Cultural memes are different to genes in type but not in kind; this is to say that cultural models, maps, logics and vocabularies are encoded into artefacts and narratives as a different fundamental type of complexity storage but they still represent the same kind of complexity storage as instantiated in narratives, images, symbols, languages, books, magnetic storage or other incomplete logical systems. Cultural objects are relatively simple in comparison to genetic information systems but when considered in their broader dynamic contexts, their complexity is comparable but is stored and encrypted in a far more decentralised manner. It is possible to conceive that decentralised, dispersed information storage systems might convey some kind of selective advantage in evolutionary terms.
From our privileged point of view we tend to views memes as curious cultural or informational entities. The broader context and reality is probably more that the stored and transferred (i.e. communicated) information encoded in a meme merely exists on a very wide spectrum of information storage and complexity.