November 29, 2006

Memetics experiment

Writing about web page http://acephalous.typepad.com/acephalous/2006/11/measuring_the_s.html

In the name of science, I have to link to this cool applied memetics experiment – and you should too. Oh yes. Why? Because it’s interesting, and you’re an interesting person. People will like you if you write about interesting things.

Memetics is, roughly speaking, genetics (and evolutionary principles) applied to ideas – as a theory, it models ‘culture’, which includes art, music, text, religion, advertising… it’s very broad. Not everyone likes it – but arguably it has some explanatory power. The memetics meme has spread quite far, but I’d hazard a guess that most people using the term ‘meme’ don’t really understand memetics.

The genetics analogy isn’t as strict as all that, because you also have horizontal propagation… and possibly Lamarckian inheritance. That isn’t a fatal flaw. Susan Blackmore’s book, The Meme Machine, is an excellent text on the subject.

So anyway, read the link, and please then blog your opinions of it, sending a Technorati ping. (And if you think it’s all rubbish, you can blog that too, and it still counts as spreading the meme. Or the anti-meme? Such is the joy of memetics.)


- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Max Hammond

    I’m not convinced that it’s a very good investigation of memetic propogation on the internet; it’s an experiment rather than any memetics. The “experiment” just asks you to spread it for kicks, rather than for any interest or excitement. Too techie to appeal to most people, not interesting enough.

    Most things that happen on blogs have nothing to do with memes, they’re not the replicating units which Blackmore et al tend to describe memes as.

    29 Nov 2006, 17:22

  2. I’m not too attached to spreading this particular meme; but, I am interested in spreading the meme of ‘memetics’.

    Most things that happen on blogs are memes, or at least their expression – the definition is perceived too narrowly by too many people.

    30 Nov 2006, 09:42

  3. Max Hammond

    the definition is perceived too narrowly by too many people.

    I tend to agree, I think I should rephrase: “most things which happen on blogs are not successful memes, they are never replicated”. Perhaps these “blogmemes” are, but I am unconvinced. They’re replicated, but are they stored in the brain?

    30 Nov 2006, 16:24

  4. I’d agree with that rephrasing.

    Yeah, these “blogmemes” are pretty crap. :) They enjoy success while they last, in that they succeed in getting their victims hosts to expend the brain time needed to replicate them. They might not become a major part of the culture…

    ...well, having said that, perhaps there’s a meta-meme also being transmitted which I hadn’t noticed – the tradition of posting random crap on your blog just because other people did, like those awful lists of questions. Grr.

    In general, they’re pretty much equivalent to spam, or chain letters. This one was interesting, in that:

    • it was vaguely centralised (rather than just people reposting a link to a blog they read, that links to another blog they read, and so on), and
    • it advertised memetics.

    30 Nov 2006, 20:06


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