RE: memetics-digest V1 #1031

From: Lawrence DeBivort (
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 00:02:50 BST

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    Subject: RE: memetics-digest V1 #1031
    Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 19:02:50 -0400
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    Hello, Steve,

    > > I do view memetics as a potentially important technology, on a
    > par in terms
    > > of importance with nuclear weaponry. So while the generality
    > may be true
    > > that useful tools become disseminate themselves, it is still worth it to
    > > slow the dissemination down if there is concern for its abuse.
    > The defense
    > > against nuclear weapons was a combination of public disgust with their
    > > destructiveness and offsetting threats (MAD). I'm not sure memetics has
    > > equivalent defenses, and I would like to know what the
    > defense(s) are going
    > > to be before contributing to the dissemination.

    > The potential may be there but any actuality is way off, if ever.
    > Defence usually comes after I'm afraid - arms race and all that.

    > > I say all this not out of a sense of pessimism about our human
    > society, but
    > > out of a sense that an ethic is at work now around the globe,
    > an ethic that
    > > asserts that the pursuit of short-term selfish advantage is an
    > acceptable
    > > primary value. There are too many folks out there to whom lots
    > of money and
    > > power are the goal, and give short shrift to a shared societal
    > well-being
    > > and progress. With these folks, cleverness has replaced wisdom,
    > and what one
    > > can get away with has become the ethical standard. These folks
    > have proven
    > > themselves adept at taking advantage of the new 'tools' of
    > globalization and
    > > IT systems. I have no desire to hand them additional tools, and
    > would rather
    > > use those tools that we have to impose accountability on them, and to
    > > require their due consideration for the needs of a beneficial human
    > > evolution.
    > I agree there is an ethic of ME. NOW! going around the world, but part of
    > that is social evolution. People are less reliant on one immediate kin
    > group. Instead they are in a multiplicity of groups (such as this), so if
    > you piss one group off so what? You are not ostracised like you would have
    > been in a kin group.

    I think you have put your finger on it. If we have an endlessly transient
    population, how are the notions of community loyalty and responsibility
    built up? Hmmmm....provocative question. Do memes build a community
    amongst the adherents to a meme? I can see that I've got some thinking
    ahead! What do you think?

    > Like you said, this is a public forum. If you want to be really
    > paranoid, I
    > watched for a month before I made a post. So someone could watch without
    > ever posting.

    Yes, I've thought about this, as, I imagine, lots of members have. But the
    alternative is to shrink our world back into the confines of present friends
    tried and true, and the promise of the Web is thus diminished. Not that
    this is repsonsive to the security matter we are talking about, but I have
    over the years become more and more sensitive to the postings and their
    authors that are more likely to be convivial and provide learning. I am more
    at ease than I used to be about ignoring rudeness or argumentation for the
    sake of argumentation.

    I tried a couple of times to set up smaller email lists by invitation only,
    but found that these lacked the robust disagreements and probing that seems
    the stuff of learning, though it can sometimes be disagreeable or

    So, back to security, I am careful about posting here, or any other list,
    about technical matters, and hope that that wariness will be sufficient.
    > We are a long way, if ever, from developing a memetic technology. Unlike
    > hard tech, this one would be available to the ordinary person. Have you
    > considered that?

    A bit: generally, you are absolutely correct, and that is part of the
    wonderful potential that memetics has -- it isn't dependent on mega-bucks
    and equipment and scientific or engineering teams. But I also think that
    large insitutions will have an advantage over small ones, or solo
    practitoners, in that the large organizations will have the resources to
    amplify their message in the conventional ways that are now practised:
    advertising, lobbying, spokepeople, public relations, and the new
    fad-on-their-block, "perception management". This is what scares me--the
    combination of these money-dependent technniques with memetics.

    So...perhaps it is naive, but I hope that this is one thing we can do better
    with, rather than poorly. Do we have any choice but try?

    Maybe we need some sort of brainstorming workshop on this.

    Best regards,

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