Re: Sexy memes

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Sun 20 Oct 2002 - 20:54:57 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "Re: Sexy memes"

    > 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
    > Main Entry: trans·ac·tion
    > Pronunciation: tran-'zak-sh&n, tran(t)-'sak-
    > Function: noun
    > Date: 1647
    > 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
    > transmission. Therefore, we can say it is the information that is the
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > a transaction between two or more people (or animals?) which may or may
    > lead to replication.
    > In short, a meme is encoded information. The encoding can be in the form
    > words, actions, or artifacts but the meme is what was encoded.

    I think this is exactly the level of abstraction I'd like to see. Thanks Grant, I feel we are pretty much on the same level. Memes as quantities of information, I think we have a winner here. Their is only one comment I'd like to make. I don't think it is necessary that the receiver and transmittor are two different people per se. From retrospection I know there is quite a lot of implicit knowledge in one's mind which can become explicit through environmental triggers (information received from the outside). I'm thinking about private euraka moments and 'what alcoholics refer to as moments of clarity'. In that sense you transform implicit knowledge to explicit information and transmit that information to yourself. I think that the self-plex (set of memes about the self) is partly based on the experiences of such private moments of inference.


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