From: Grant Callaghan (email@example.com)
Date: Sun 20 Oct 2002 - 15:23:20 GMT
Perhaps we should include as one of the defining characteristics of a meme
that it is a transaction as expressed in number 2b of the definition below:
Main Entry: trans·ac·tion
Pronunciation: tran-'zak-sh&n, tran(t)-'sak-
1 a : something transacted; especially : an exchange or transfer of
goods, services, or funds <electronic transactions> b plural : the
often published record of the meeting of a society or association
2 a : an act, process, or instance of trans acting b : a
communicative action or activity involving two parties or things that
reciprocally affect or influence each other
- trans·ac·tion·al /-shn&l, -sh&-n&l/ adjective
What is replicated through a meme is information. In order for it to be
replicated, it must be transmitted. This requires the information to be
encoded and broadcast and it also requires someone to receive and decode the
transmission. Therefore, we can say it is the information that is the meme,
but only if it is part of a
transaction between an originator and one or more other people.
This also allows for the problem of the receiver not receiving the
information perfectly because the system generates noise as well as
information. What a person does with the information received is beside the
point. Usually, it is used to reproduce behavior based on the information
received. But I think we can say that it was the information transmitted
that was the meme, just as it is in the case of genes.
For those who want to make comparisons with DNA and genes, DNA is also
encoded information that is broadcast through the medium of reporductive
action. In sex, the male broadcasts his seed and the female receives it and
uses it to reproduce a body that resembles both the male and the female.
That is also a transaction. Sometimes the process results in a reproduction
and sometimes it
doesn't. (for example, fish fertilizing eggs laying on the bottom of a
stream or the ocean) It's the same with memes.
So I vote for the word "meme" to refer to the information encoded as part of
a transaction between two or more people (or animals?) which may or may not
lead to replication.
In short, a meme is encoded information. The encoding can be in the form of
words, actions, or artifacts but the meme is what was encoded.
Unlimited Internet access -- and 2 months free! Try MSN.
This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun 20 Oct 2002 - 15:28:24 GMT