Re: electric meme bombs

From: Bruce Howlett (
Date: Mon 21 Oct 2002 - 06:14:48 GMT

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    I have just rejoined the list after some 2 years absence and I see that there are still some problems with definitions and perceptions that seem to be inhibiting the progress of the science of memetics. I would like to make some observations that may help.
       The concept of memetics has been of great assistance to me in the study and practice of change management. While I agree with the holistic approach (the definition of a meme event as an observable behaviour in a cultural context), by far the most significant factor in that process is language. For example: it is possible to bring about significant change in an organisation by changing the language used by the people within that organisation (acknowledgements to If Price).

    The operational environment that makes the mememetic process possible is the pattern identification system used by our brains, and as far as I can tell, that system evolved from the basic need to quickly identify danger in order to stay alive. What makes the exact defining of what a meme is, and how it works difficult, is that it does not work the same way each time. If the brain receives part of a pattern it will fill in the blanks from past memories/experiences. As no 2 peoples experience of life is identical, it is obvious that the reaction to a specific meme will be different in each case. I think it would help if we stopped treating a meme as an object. To me the "meme" is the process of transference of a pattern and the resultant behaviour. As people with an interest in memetics, what we are doing is creating a language to describe a concept. I hope it doesn't take another 2 years for the memetics community to agree on some standard definitions.


    Bruce Howlett

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